Cut the Cougar Crap

6 April 2011

Through the ages, women have never had a lack of complaints about the inequalities between men and women. Particularly when it comes to romance, dating and age, there’s always been a lot to complain about. I wish I could say that I am not about to contribute to that litany of gripes, but oh no, I’m about to jump right in.

So, this whole “Cougar” thing. I wouldn’t mind if that term got lost in the Bronx Zoo and was never heard from again. Or was shot with a dart gun and left to die on the Serengeti. You get my drift. I loathe it. It is the word that is now used categorically for any woman who dates younger men. When you hear the word “cougar” what comes to mind? Sharp claws, bared-teeth, pouncing on an unsuspecting zebra to make a kill.

When sometimes, a guy just asks an older woman out and she says yes.

Sometimes the younger guy even falls in love with an older woman, sometimes even marries her, and it was actually all by his own free will. Can you imagine? He wasn’t seduced, tricked, pounced upon, hunted down. He just found her attractive and decided he wanted to be with her. I wish we had a name for that. Oh right, we do. It’s called dating. The very word we would use if an older man dated a woman half his age. Oh, what a fuss everyone made about Demi and Ashton and their 15-year age difference. Isn’t she worried he’s going to leave her? Or cheat? It will never last! She’s so much older than him! Did you know Bruce Willis married someone 24 years younger than himself? Probably not. Because no one was calling him a lion or a panther or even a dirty old man.

In fairness, I am assuming the term “cougar” was meant to be used regarding women who repeatedly go after younger men. It is also meant as a compliment, I am sure. But my friend, who is sexy and in her forties, hears that term used about her in general, even when there’s no younger man in sight. I am sure it is meant to infer that she’s (still!) sexy and (still!) attractive to men. But it also infers she’s a predator, up for hunting down a young man in his prime and making a kill.

So what’s to be done? Probably nothing but complain. And I guess we could be more philosophical about it. If “cougar” has replaced “spinster” and “old maid” as the word to describe over-forty women, then at least we’re headed in the right direction.

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Posted by Liz Tuccillo at 07:38 AM
bargain news , Insiders , Our Guest Bloggers , Points of View , Relationships |


  1. Morgan
    April 7, 2011 @ 4:06 pm

    I totally agree with you. I married a wonderful man several years my junior. He’s from the UK (we met online) and couldn’t understand why there would be a prejudice in the States re: older women/younger men — when in Europe, it’s very common (even considered cool). Over here, he learned it’s a different story (fortunately, he’s not the kind of man who pays any attention to that kind of prejudice). Why is it that Bogie & Bacall are considered such a romantic couple and she’s given the endearment ‘Bogie’s Baby’ — yet older woman/younger man (Joan Collins & her hubby, for example), no such thing? Even though I’ve been happily married for 10 years, I’m still viewed in a less-than-flattering light by some. It’s time to do away with the whole cougar thing and celebrate those of us who are fortunate enough to be in an older woman/younger man relationship. My wish is that everyone could be as happy as my hubby and I.


  2. Kaiza
    April 15, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

    Just because you’re a cougar doesn’t mean you have to be defensive about a term used loosely as slang. Suck it up


  3. Pam
    May 24, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

    Come on – lighten up!! “Cougar” is a state of mind – it’s about women who aren’t afraid to be women – it’s about going after whatever it is you want.
    Men have done it forever – it’s about time women feel good enough about themselves to go after anything…it’s not just about younger men!


  4. Sun God
    June 13, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

    Some women enjoy the word “cougar” because it trully celebrates the undeniable strength, magnetism, and charm of an older woman. You of course are entitled to interpret it as you will, but why vilify something that is meant to be toungue-in-cheek? If you want something annoying to go away just ignore it. To me, your article plants seeds of negativity and only perpetuates the constant bickering over power between men and women. Get over yourself, maybe the word doesn’t even apply to you.


  5. Gina
    June 21, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

    Dear Liz,
    Thank you for writing this article!!! I guess I would be called a Cougar or referred as to one NOW..But I dont care for it to much because it makes us look bad like you said “Sharp claws, bared-teeth, pouncing on an unsuspecting zebra to make a kill” and I am none of those things and matter a affect we just had a Baby Boy and I m so in love with my life ,so we need to make some major changes because it is ok for a Man to date or Marry a much younger women but it is not ok for us women ???


  6. Sheri Ann Pochat
    July 28, 2011 @ 9:17 am

    I agree whole-heartedly with Ms. Tuccillo’s post. What is even more disturbing to progressive women is that most people, including women, do not get it. I live in a suburb or Orange County, New York. When I listen to the children give speeches about women and their duties, I am taken aback by how the old double standard is STILL widely taken for granted.

    Even in places where you expect progressive thought, I find that women are still protrayed as oafs with unwitting idiocy, princesses to be admired for dress and looks. Still further, here in suburbia, a charlatan should your skirt be above the knee or blouse have clevage.

    Cougar? I don’t want to adopt the maile paradigm of calling her a stud either. If a woman dates a younger man, I say good luck to the woman in all of her glory!


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