I had blocked out of my head the fact that there is a TV comedy called “Cougar Town” premiering tonight. I am sure it will be hi-fucking-larious. Then this afternoon it was brought to my attention that Jian Gomeshi was talking today on his radio show about the term “cougar.” I didn’t listen to the show because I was busy walking 8 kms in the blazing Fall sunshine to get to and from preschool.
I like cougars, the big cat kind. I think they are very powerful looking and often their velvety smooth noses invite me to pat them. Luckily I have never encountered a real cougar or I would be one handed, if alive.
I dislike the term “cougar” when used to describe a woman over 40 who dates a man who is significantly younger than her.
Part of me, as in all things, says live and let live. If I don’t care for the term cougar then all I have to do is not use it. And kneecap anyone who uses it in my presence…oh wait, no.
The other part of me, as in all things, spends time wondering why I am bothered by it. Why, if I am 35, married to someone who is 37, it matters what a bunch of women Not Of My Circle Anyway are called/calling themselves.
It is a defense disguised as empowerment. It is a solution to a problem that does not exist.
Women who define themselves as cougars say they are empowered by the term. They are making decisions for themselves, they are choosing which hot man to take home, they are not limited by their own age group, they have the confidence in themselves to pick the most attractive guy to them and proposition him.
All of which is great. Knock yourself out.
But if it’s so empowering to be a woman over 40 who knows what she wants, why are you making an excuse for yourself? Why not just say, I am a 42 year old woman and I like that dude in the mesh shirt and I’m gonna go grab him and ask if he wants to have the sex with me. Why do you have to form an informal “club” and label who you are and have a website where you can be the real you?
It might not be an excuse. It sounds like one. It sounds like this to me, “I’m over 40 BUT I still got it.”
Like MILF (“I’m a mom but I’m still hot enough to fuck”, yes, that’s what the F stands for) and Yummy Mummy (“I’m a mom but I’m still tasty delicious, nowhere near my sell-by date,”) Cougar is a defense against those critics who would look at your relationship or your appearance and declare it inappropriate. (Isn’t that just so kind of them?)
But here’s the thing: unless you are committing a criminal offense in your personal relationships, NO ONE gets to tell you who you can or cannot date. NO ONE gets to say You’re too old to date that person / you’re too flabby to go out without lipstick / you’re too procreative to wear those pants / you’re too ANYTHING to do ANYTHING.
Seriously. It is nobody’s business but yours. And maybe your mother’s if she’s around but actually no. Just yours.
So a defense is created against an offense that should not exist in the first place. A solution to a problem that just got invented, just like my terrible tongue bacteria (tongue scrubber,) my shameful period (crinkle-free pad wrappers,) my wrinkled eye skin (pick a skin care regime, any skin care regime. How about the fact that it’s called a skin care regime?)
Where it concerns older women dating younger men, there is no problem. No problem? We don’t need a solution.
You don’t have to be An Older Woman. You don’t have to be A Younger Man. You don’t have to be defined against an artificial, societally constructed baseline. You just be. You just are.