Hilary Swank was called ‘irresponsible’ for becoming a mum at 48, why do we not have the same energy for older dads like 83-year-old Al Pacino?

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When it was revealed earlier this week that Al Pacino was set to become a father again at 83, the first person I thought of was Hilary Swank. And no, not just because they starred in the 2002 Christopher Nolan film Insomnia together.

I thought of Swank because she became a mother earlier this year for the first time aged 48. In doing so, she seemingly invited a pile on from internet trolls claiming that her decision to become a mother in her 40s was “irresponsible”.

“How deeply irresponsible to bring kids into the world at such an old age, just to fulfil some inner selfish desire for children,” one particularly vocal follower wrote after Swank posted a picture of her newborn twins to Instagram in April. “By the time your kids are in their 20s, both their parents will be in a nursing home or dead.”

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The same energy hasn’t been given to Pacino, who is expecting his fourth child with his 29-year-old girlfriend Noor Alfallah. Or to Robert De Niro, who welcomed his seventh child early in May, aged 79.

“Not in my lifetime, could anyone have told me that Al Pacino and Robert De Niro would be walking their infants they biologically conceived while on Medicare and cholesterol meds, through Central Park in 2024,” one Twitter user wrote, adding: “They’re truly the greatest of all f***ing time.”

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Both of these men are a good three decades Swank’s senior and will likely be around for a considerably shorter period of their newborn child’s lives than she will, so why is Swank getting penalised while Pacino and De Niro are reaping praise?

Perhaps it has to do with how we view older mothers in general. Women only have a certain window where they are fertile and able to have children. We have a shelf life, so to say. A man, however, can impregnate a woman throughout most of his life.

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