Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cougar or Crone?

Is it just me, or is the term "cougar"--an "older" woman who prefers the company of younger men--irritating?

Yes, I know many of my gender would argue that it's an empowering label, declaring a defiant, unapologetic attitude and choice. Still, I can't get past the cringe factor, and hope that it will eventually fade in popularity. Don't get me wrong -- I'm all for consenting adults of either sex exercising free will in their "private lives." If that is the case, it troubles me that a word implying predatory behavior is used, especially toward women.

Of course, men have long been called "pig" or "tiger," depending upon how welcome (or not) their advances are toward the objects of their attention. Again, I'm talking about adult sexuality, not child molestation.

Perhaps it's trivialization and sensationalism to which I object. How evolved it would be if one's sexual preferences could be calmly viewed as simply a part of the whole human experience, and not pandering to our inner giggling adolescent. The crone (a dignified archetype) typifies this acceptance. But then, such maturity does not sell popular magazines.

Evidence that we haven't evolved all that much -- the recent tabloid fodder involving Ashton Kutcher's split from Demi Moore. Not only is Moore portrayed as a spurned older woman, she was depicted as tragic, a victim, crashing down in heartbreak. She's been dumped, what do you expect? If the two parties in this scenario were the same age, would it be less gossip-worthy?

By now, our dirty-laundry-lust seems to have mercifully waned. Leave the woman alone, please, and grant her privacy to heal.

From my bookshelves, for your consideration:

Older Women, Younger Men: New Options for Love and Romance, by Felicia Brings and Susan Winter.

For the academics, from UMI Dissertation Services:

The New Dyad: Older Women and Younger Men (Egalitarian, Age Differences, Sex Roles, by Sally H. Peterson

Older Women and Younger Men: The Initiation Narrative of the French Eighteenth Century, by Veronica J. Massey. This treatise demonstrates that so-called "cougar" roles are not the exclusive property of modern times.

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