by J Perry Stone
Cougar: A woman 40 years or older who preys upon men many years her junior.
Every time I turn on the television lately, it seems I can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a cougar. This fall, Courtney Cox stars in
Cougars have entered our reality, our language, and thus, require a small measure of investigation. I have to admit, however, the term bugs me for a couple of reasons (and not just because I’m kicking the hell out of 40 either).
1) It seems to me whenever a woman does something society has to stretch to accept, such women are ALWAYS slapped with a pejorative moniker.
High-powered professional = ball-buster or bitch
Sexually daring = slut
Dating a younger man = cougar.
Notice there's no name for the male equivalent of cougar save dirty old man, perv, creep, or a**hole. Nothing that sticks, in any case.
2) By calling a woman cougar, one trivializes her relationship by assuming its existence is merely the result of a self-serving, last-ditch attempt to recapture her diminishing youth. This isn’t to say there aren’t women out there prowling around, but how utterly depressing and sad to assume this is the agenda of every woman who takes part in a May/December romance. Focusing on a woman’s inability to accept the aging process is a generalization unworthy of most women I call friend. What’s more, it is an ugly insecurity most women get over the older they get.
So what are the options? Throw a big tantrum? Laugh it off till the term cougar gets so cliché, it falls out of favor?
I think of the 70’s classic cult film, Harold and Maude in which the adorable Ruth Gordon plays the vivacious septuagenarian teaching Harold--depressed and death-obsessed at 20 years of age--a multitude of life lessons:
“A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. They're just backing away from life. Reach out. Take a chance. Get hurt even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an
Maintain her youth inside. That’s absolutely right!
So what are your thoughts? Does the term cougar offend you? What do you think of May/December romances in books, TV and movies (particularly if the woman is December)?