I was thrilled to read Judith Warner’s column in the September 24 New York Times (“The Real Cougar Fans,” ripping the new cougar ethic). Personally, I am appalled by courgardom – not by its age reversal (who cares about age and gender disparities if they work?), but by its stalker aspect:  Since when does a woman, particularly a gorgeous one with a wealth of experience, have to use teeth and claws to get her man? Wit, charm and money, sure (never held back a young person, either), but slashing? (For the record, I don’t think teeth and claws are useful man-tools, either.)  If you’re looking for sex and you subdue a guy, or just overwhelm him, he’s going to wilt, and that’s not helpful.  And everyone knows, if you’re looking for romance – well, stalking your kill just won’t do.

Why on earth are cougars catching on? Does anyone care? Does anyone want to be one?

I sent this to Chris Lombardi thinking it might be a good query for a WVFC poll. In the meantime, I checked back on the Times‘s website and discovered 434 responses to Warner’s column!  They were wonderful:  pithy, bitchy, thoughtful, clever and all over the lot. Check them out! So should WVFC respond to the responses?

For my own part, I’ve decided to remember an experience my brother Gene had with a man he met at a bar in New Zealand: The guy was exactly like Andy Capp, said my brother, but what was funny in the cartoon turned out to be horrendous in a human being (the wife came to the bar — every night! — to cart the body home).

Maybe we should check out Courtney this Wednesday night and, if we hate her, just not cart the body home. And maybe it’s not such a bad idea — once in a while — to be in touch with our inner wild.

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  • AmyLeigh October 1, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    I don’t know where to start, I’m still processing my thoughts and feelings over the current “cougar” phenomena. They are really touching a nerve, though, as I go through my first year as a forty-year old and all the personal crises and fear that that has spawned (which has also caught me totally off-guard).

    I was only starting to get over being referred to mostly as “ma’am” and that felt weird enough. I am coping with a lot of insecurity over my sagging boobs, my waning fertility and, though I am slim, fit and generally look much younger, it is obvious that I no longer get the attention, or the attention is just really different, that I might have even just a couple of years ago. It sucks and it’s weird and I don’t know how to feel about it. What’s worse is that I’m single and my friends who are already comfortably paired can’t relate to the insecurity I’m facing. What I did _not_ need on top of all this is a label.

    My most recent relationship was, in fact, with a man almost six years my junior. I absolutely reject the label or the notion that that makes me a “cougar”. I’m thoroughly sick of the double standard- hell, of even having it commented on- when older men have commonly sought out younger companions. Why isn’t our culture commenting on how a hetero woman my age, 40, can hardly get a man her same age to even date her? Forty year old men primarily live in either a fantasy world of trying to date much, much younger women either for the trophy factor or because I’m the reproductive equivalent of spoiling milk. I resent that and I resent the whole “cougar” thing and I dare anyone to refer to me that way. I’m surprisingly upset about it and will not be watching the show and I’m pissed that the show and our culture is promoting what I perceive as an insulting image. For just a moment forty was “the new thirty” and now I’m just a creepy older woman? Grrrr!!!

  • Comrade Kevin October 1, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    The only real cougars I have known are middle aged women, usually with significant emotional issues, who date younger men because they cannot face the fact that they are aging. To put it bluntly, I have been pursued by several in my life and at least have some degree of understanding of the practice. It’s a purely selfish action on their part, in my opinion, because I found quickly that my presence in their lives was due primarily to the fact that I was much younger than they and had nothing to do with mutual love. Aside from that, women fresh out of divorces count as cougars, though this is usually a temporary period of emancipation from a bad relationship more than a long-lasting state of being.

    Those who can make relationships work where there is a major age gap are not cougars. They’ve based their relationship on healthy terms.