Cougar is a dirty word
When Demi Moore was quoted a few weeks ago in W magazine saying “I’d rather be called a puma than a cougar,” I was at first quite pleased. Somehow, puma seemed a nicer name (cougar, to me, sounds as cringeworthy as nails scratching on a blackboard) and I hoped it would catch on.
But after some digesting, it dawned on me that calling women who go out with younger men ‘pumas’ isn’t any more flattering. A puma is still a wild animal who feeds on innocent prey – which is where the term cougar comes from – and is just as offensive.
Demi Moore, shame on you for thinking a prettier word will make you feel better. Besides, it’s not going to catch on. Unfortunately, the cougar is here to stay.
Is there any way to shirk the term, or the insinuation that comes with it? That older women are hunting naïve young men who know no better than to walk directly into their well honeyed trap where they’ll be pounced upon and clawed apart?
Originating in Canada in 1999, from a website called cougardate.com the name has stuck like bad BO does to the inside of an old cab. No matter how much I’ve ignored it and have never used it in a sentence or written about it in a story, ‘cougar’ is now a part of our everyday vernacular. Great. Another derogatory term for women.
A quick once-over of the names women have to live with over our lifetime: we get called spinsters if old and unmarried as opposed to a bachelor. We’re sluts if we play the field, while men are revered heroes.
We’re maneaters if we play the field, jailbait if we go for older guys, bitches has somehow become a song lyric staple and now we have to live with being likened to a vicious animal if we dare go out with a man born a few years after us. Quelle horreur!
Spinster might have been around forever, but cougar? I’ve got issues with it. Partly because it is a new term, so could have been prevented, but mostly because the connotation simply isn’t true.
Older women do not prey on younger men. They do not go out hunting in packs for 20-year-olds in skinny jeans with messy hair and dirty t-shirts. Trust me. That is not an older woman’s ideal date.
It’s almost always the younger man going for the woman. Have you ever been in this situation? I have, and the thing is, they know you’re ten years older but they just don’t care.
There’s something about a mature woman that’s like a toasted marshmallow to a guy– not as glossy or firm as a meringue but much more irresistible.
And here’s the thing: there’s nothing wrong with it. Over the last couple of years, more of my friends seem to be hooking up with younger men. And so what? Men have been doing it for years. Who’s to say that it ain’t the female’s turn?
My theory is that young men have less baggage, and so are more willing to commit to a serious relationship (which unless you’ve been living on Mars, is quite attractive to a woman, doesn’t matter what her age).
Younger guys like the idea of falling for someone who can show them the ropes and maybe teach them a thing or two. It’s not like they get tricked into these situations – they are not standing idly by, the victim, while a woman holds a gun to their head and makes them take off their clothes.
Guys are active partners in these relationships – and yes, they can actually be relationships as well as just short flings. A few of my friends married their toyboys (how much more fun and exciting is that name?) and there’s nothing to say it won’t work.
So why the label cougar? Why make the whole thing sound so callous and calculated and severe and damning when really, it’s just about two people who dig each other?
There’s no need for name calling folks, it just creates more lines in the sand. And stupid TV sitcoms starring Courtney Cox.
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