When Bushnell was 43 she married a man 10 years younger. She has described this large age gap as a great positive:
...the reason my marriage works is that it's not traditional. When I was younger, I dated men of various ages, some a little younger, some several years older. And I saw a pattern begin to emerge: Whenever I was with an older man, all those societal dictates about male and female roles would creep into my subconscious. I'd start acting like the little woman, and then my behavior would make me sick and I'd rebel by staying out at nightclubs until four in the morning. I knew what I wanted - an equal, balanced relationship in which both members could shine, a union in which I'd have a partner as opposed to a provider ... equal partnership is something many women want...My fellow cougars and I found our footing in relationships with younger men.
And by the way, our men don't usually resemble boy toys ... More likely, he's confident, open-minded and willing to make his own rules.
And she has described the inspiration behind Sex and The City as an attempt to liberate women from the "injustice" of the rules of society:
I’m 52 years old now, and when I was a young girl growing up in the 1960s, there were a lot of dos and don'ts. We, young girls, were told what was permissible and what was not, and how we were to behave and conduct ourselves. And I object to that. And this injustice has always driven me. SATC, with all the sexual liberation and freedom expressed by the women characters, reflects a society unfairly imposing itself on women.
But Bushnell's cougar vision of liberation is floundering. Following on from Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore's divorce, we now learn that Bushnell is divorcing her husband after discovering his relationship with a much younger woman. Her non-traditional approach to marriage didn't work.
And I don't think that's entirely accidental. Bushnell is mistaken when it comes to equality. A 43-year-old woman is going to struggle to give equally in a marriage with a 33-year-old man. She won't be able to give him her youthful beauty and passion. She won't be able to give him children. The sacrifices will come mostly from his side, not hers.
It's interesting, too, that Candace Bushnell felt the impulse of masculine and feminine roles only with older men, rather than with younger ones. Her rejection of men older than her suggests that she is not accepting of a man expressing a masculine role as a husband and father within a marriage. Again, I don't think that's a giving attitude from a woman. It's as if she wants a marital relationship which resembles the unstable, free-floating, sex based relationships that occur on campus before men and women become conscious of their adult roles. For a woman to insist on that kind of a relationship when married requires a husband who is, in my opinion, either immature or who is forced to suppress his adult personality.
And why? Consider again what Candace Bushnell says about being with older men:
Whenever I was with an older man, all those societal dictates about male and female roles would creep into my subconscious. I'd start acting like the little woman, and then my behavior would make me sick and I'd rebel by staying out at nightclubs until four in the morning.
What does that say about Bushnell's feminine identity? It's not something through which she can connect with a man anymore. She has defined it in a negative way as something externalised and oppressive. But this too then limits what she is able to give in a marriage. The equality of marriage being a meeting point between the masculine and the feminine is lost.