Posted by: Sherry Amatenstein
Topic: Let’s look at the cougar phenomenon – older women with younger men: What makes this pairing so powerful?
The reason I'm writing about cougars this week while my esteemed fellow and female posters are deep into as Evan put it, technology, evil is due to - shock of shocks! - a technology glitch. I never got the e-memo informing me this week's topic was changed. We're given debate topics a month out and cougars was on the original line-up. The email sent to my box telling me of the change apparently went bouncy, bounce. As do many relationships that start strong in the cyber-world and crash and burn once they become real.
So - back to cougars!
Isn't this subject getting a little, well, long in the tooth? Guess if anything could have ended the non-ending media interest in this ‘phenomenon’ it would have been the cringe-inducing reality show Age of Love pitting cougars against kittens, AKA 20-something chickies. The “prize” - a 31-year-old supposed stud. I never saw the show, only promos which precipitated aforementioned cringing. So if anyone knows which side won – or is that lost? – please post, along with your opinion of the result.
And yeah, call me a hypocrite. I’ve added to the madness by writing about cougars (the term also refers to pumas or mountain lions traditionally known as stalk-and-ambush predators) for my more.com dating column. My bully pulpit rationale: www.more.com’s audience is women over 40 so the topic is germane rather than gratuitous. But hurl those brickbats if you must.
It’s true these passion pairings are increasingly common: A 2003 survey conducted by the National Association of Retired Persons revealed that one-third of single women between 40 and 60 are dating younger men. And that’s fine. No quarrels. Let freedom ring. As long as it’s not another Mary Kay LeTourneau type seducing her 13-year-old student I say vive l’amour.
The match to my flame is that older men/younger women couplings still create barely a ripple, while the sight of a woman in her prime snuggled up to a lad who barely remembers life before the Internet brings on guffaws, snorts and even ridicule. And while most geezers appear thrilled to be seen with arm candy, many women of a certain age wish they had a sack over their head when out in public with a young paramour, so deep is their discomfort. Society didn’t excoriate 81-year-old Tony Bennett for marrying a 48-year-old hottie, but if an older woman doesn’t look like Demi Moore, she’ll be verbally assailed for ‘going after’ Ashton Kutcher.
I’ll close with another cringe inducer: websites like www.dateolderwomen.com, www.gocougar.com and www.intergenerational.net that exist to seduce women into actively trolling for fresh meat. Can’t we allow attraction to just happen, and the age (or color or religious or socioeconomic or whatever) disparity between two people be viewed not as a social impropriety but as simple, unassailable, almost unimportant fact?