Don't Call Me Cougar Unless You Want to See Fangs
The other evening I was asked out by a delightful blonde specimen who, I could tell by his lack of crow's feet and cynicism, was young enough to be my nephew...or even son if I'd been a just a tad more promiscuous and less safe as a high school sophomore. That's right, do the math...he was 15 years younger. Going out with him would deem me in the eyes of society as the dreaded "cougar" since apparently a woman over 40 who dates a man eight years or more their junior can be labeled as such. I fricking hate the term, and am thrilled that it seems to finally be becoming extinct.
First, let's just look at the implications of the word. A true cougar of the feline variety is also called a panther, puma, and mountain lion. It is the smallest of the big cats and known for its reclusive, solitary nature and as being what they call a "stalk and ambush" predator. Translate this to the female variety and it implies that she is a lone and friendless woman who skulks through the shadows waiting for some weak boy to come close enough for her to pounce on and drag back to her lair where he will struggle until he is too spent to fight off her advances. Then he will be forced to have sex with the hideous hag. I can tell you from years of frat parties and Friday nights in the bar scene, that unless a woman is a total troglodyte with a bad attitude and bad breath, she need only wink, blink, or asked to get laid. No sneak attacks are necessary.
Throughout the years there have been a multitude of terms for people who date those younger than themselves like: cradle robber, manther, and chickenhawk. All of these have a negative connotation, as if being older than your partner makes you a lascivious leech who is somehow trying to suck the life force out of the poor innocent and then toss away his carcass to the vultures. It brings to mind the Countess Bathory who tortured and murdered hundreds of village virgins so she could bathe in their blood and regain her youth.
The one adjective associated with the cougar that does not offend is prowess. The implication here is of one that has mastered an act and engages in it with grace and confidence. In this case, that act is love. So, society should be grateful when those who have gained a little expertise choose to impart some of their sexual savoir-faire to a lucky lad. I liken it to when the goddesses of Greek mythology chose a mortal man to share their wisdom and their bed. Perhaps older women who bless younger men with their bounty should be deemed Athenas or Aphrodites or Selenes.
You are welcome to call me any of these, but unless you want to feel my fangs, do not call me a cougar...even if you see me out with that blonde.
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By Lisa Thomson