Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Curse of the "Cougar" Moniker

I hate that older single women dating younger men are called "cougars." I just hate that expression. While pretending to be playful, the expression hides so much more- since when are cats? It also suggests that we are just our nether regions, our "pussies." As The Gender Bender Blog writes
An older woman who dates much younger men merits a label while an older man who dates much younger women is fine? The whole (ageist) premise behind the “cougar” label is that after a certain age, women get desperate for men and prey on younger men. Oh, what she wouldn’t do to get in bed with a younger man! Meanwhile, reverse the roles – if you have an older man who dates much younger women (like older men who divorce their wives and find themselves younger trophy wives) that’s not perceived as desperate or predatory. Instead it’s almost like a status symbol, just something more to make the men seem more distinguished and successful.
The rich old (white) man with the young, booby, babe on his arm is cool. The older woman with a young man on her arm is a predatory cat, practically "robbing the cradle." Really?

Kim Cattrell, apparently an actress playing a main character in "Sex in the City" (we all know I don't have a TV), turned down a magazine cover that would have required she pose with a cougar (the animal kind, not an older, single, female woman who seeks out younger men), and the astute blog suggests if more women took a stance against the icon of the cougar, women over "forty wouldn't have to constantly reiterate that they don't have to be either sexless matrons or sexed up cougars." It really has sort of become a dichotomy: Meg Whitman or a Sarah Palin type in her low cut shirt. (By the way, why does the media spend so much time on Sarah Palin's sex appeal? Can we imagine a world where this happens with male politicians? Would Secretary of State Hilary Clinton be more popular if she wore something other than classy business suits?)

I lost it, though, when I saw that the SFSPCA is advertising older cats with the "cougar" motif. Sure, cougars actually ARE cats. They're not necessarily OLDER cats. (By the way, if you search for "cougar" on google, the first definition that comes up is the urban dictionary definition, the one I'm talking about that bugs the shit out of me. In fact, it's quite hard to find information on *cougars* via google. You have to filter through a lot of shit about adult women to get there.) A *real* cougar, though, is a large cat, not an older cat as the SFSCPA would have you believe. They're about 50 to 105 lbs, and serious predators. I'm guessing the SFSPCA doesn't have any of them for adoption. Playing on an ageist, anti-feminist theme is a crappy way to advertise pet adoptions.