WOMEN over the age of 50 have all the sexual allure of a prescription for piles. At the turn of the half century they become beige cardie-wearing, thick-stockinged, thick make-up reliant relics who are more likely to turn out an Aran-knitted baby hat than turn a man on.

That seems to be the sentiment of French writer Yann Moix who this week declared: “I prefer younger women’s bodies, that’s all. The body of a 25-year-old woman is extraordinary. The body of a woman of 50 is not extraordinary at all.”

Now, as you can imagine, this has resulted in women across France (and indeed the globe) screaming ‘Sacre bleu! You’re a chauvinistic, ageist, insecure creep who needs the validation of young women.’ French journalist Colombe Schneck, for example, posted a photograph of her body with the caption “Voila, the buttocks of a woman aged 52. You don’t know what you’re missing!”

But should the gallus 50-year-old Gaul be pilloried for having the guts to say what so many think? Aren’t we all programmed to believe youth – with its firm, smooth skin, luscious hair, and sculpted body represents true beauty – and that the desire dissipates as the wrinkles arrive, the tummy sags, and bingo wings flap in front of us, belonging to buzzards who peck out the eyes of the once-excited beholder?

Isn’t this why we are part of a selfie-obsessed world which spends £1.9b a year on Botox, and indeed £2bn a year on hair restoration? Who can deny the popularity of Love Island to be the ogle factor, indeed that reality television and advertising insist we equate beauty with youth?

Should Yann Moix be maligned because he fancies younger women? American magazine Allure carried out research which argued that “women are at their most beautiful” aged 30. It added they “show signs of ageing at 41, stop looking sexy at 53 and are too old at 55.” Even Michael Gove reinforced the notion when he cited Scarlett Johansson – not Helen Mirren – for his fantasy figure for his Brexit debate argument; “The hard line Tory MPs are like 50-year-olds at the end of the disco waiting for Scarlett Johansson to come along.” Yes, many writers, mostly female, regularly tap onto keyboard; - ‘Doesn’t Helen Mirren look fabulous!’ But that doesn’t seem to register with the likes Michael Gove and Yann Moix.

If some are determined to kick the Frenchman in the couilles, let’s also consider the what’s-good-for-the-gander argument. Does anyone hold Susan Sarandon accountable for having partners born around the same year as her first hit movie? Did California tremor when Kate Beckinsale was claimed to be dating Jack Whitehall, who’s around 15 years old?

I may be wrong about this but I’d guess that Moix’s comment will bring tacit agreement from those who’ve emerged from long-term relationships, ended by ennui and a partner’s increasing laziness. The immediate desire, according to dating site research, is to desire what you haven’t had for some time, which is someone who reminds you of the younger you. I can cite first hand knowledge. Last year, for example, on a skiing holiday I took a small shine to a journalist who was 15 years younger. She in turn, however, took a larger shine to a blogger 15 years younger than her, who in turn fancied the pants of the chalet girl. (At the end of the day, no one won.)

All that said, I think Moix is talking merde when it comes to the attractions of the older woman. He seems to be saying that lust is the gateway to love, which makes him seem infantile and lost. Sure, the older person still needs to fancy someone but attraction can take different forms; a sharper, funny mind, for example, expressed in a winning smile, an inner calm. I don’t agree with Billy Joel at all when he sings, ‘I don’t want clever conversation,’ because that is sexy.

You don’t believe me? Surely I’d prefer to date, like Moix, a 25 year-old? I can honestly say I can appreciate the beauty of gorgeous young things such as Emma Stone or Emily Blunt, but if I had to pick a Hollywood star to spend an evening with I’d take Tina Fey any day.

Having said that, here’s something to throw in the Hypocrisy Box. I agree with Moix that we have a cut-off point. Last year, for example, I interviewed my dream woman Olivia Newton John and cheekily asked when she was free for coffee. But the reality was I didn’t really fancy 70 year-old Livvy any more. The same is true for one-time dream girls such as Catherine Deneuve, Katherine Ross and Sharon Maughan from the Nescafe commercials. While my long-term partner was the same age, (and still looks great) my most recent girlfriend was ten years younger. Bottom line? I wouldn’t date someone ten years older.

Now, Moix may seem astonishingly shallow, but bear in mind that when the French journalist posted a pic of her postérieur couldn’t she also be accused of using the wrong judgement criteria? And while he may be semi-tragic, you have to admire his honesty, and the fact he’s set the debate about the sexual power of the older person. And made a few people wonder about their youth obsession?