As opposed to the botoxed succubi preying on fresh, sweet mannfleisch that rightfully belongs only to the nubile.
In a recent New York Times Fashion section (’cause that’s where the stories for ladies go), Sarah Kershaw noted with incredulity that women over 35 who date men 5 or more years younger than they are not necessarily grotesquely withered demons of neediness.
This all has to do with the new ABC comedy (?) Cougar Town, which is spawning ever more “think pieces” on the shocking news that women do not shrivel up and die once they hit 40. Kershaw seems open to this shocking turn of events, and reports, in an unnecessarily pearl-clutching fashion, that her survey of how older women/younger men couples do not indicate that “cougars” are giant dysfunctional freakshows portending doom for romance.
We’re none of us old enough (35+) to qualify as cougars (although I’m drawing close), but I was curious if my sister harpies had dated anyone far younger or older, and how that played out. Our discussion, after the jump.
PhDork: I don’t think I’ve ever dated anyone more than a year or two younger, and that was long, long ago. I’ve been very very briefly involved with a couple guys who were quite a bit older– 6, 7 years, 16 years, I think, in another and had a heavy, totally inappropriate work flirtation with a guy 19 years older (those aren’t going to be dissected in the NYT–too normal: they wanted my youth/beauty/baby-makin’ capacity, I wanted their money/expertise/daddy-love. Right? ) Also long, long ago. In varying cases, I’ve had the “age is only a number” experience and the “whoa there, we’re clearly coming from different generational viewpoints, and not in a good way” go-round, too. The Dude and I are about 6 weeks apart in age. He’s older. I’m so traditional.
SarahMC: My boyf and I are about one month apart in age. I can’t really picture myself with anyone much younger than myself, but men younger than myself are under 27. Maybe when I’m cougar-aged (no, boyf, I’m not breaking up with you).
I’m baffled and disheartened that a crap show like Cougar Town is supposedly super-popular. Do people just have awful taste in general or is there a real market for cougar drama?
PhDork: A little of column A, a little of column B…
BeckySharper: I’ve been the May in a May/December relationship and hated all the stereotyping and bullshit that went with it (Viagra jokes, being immediately pegged as a bimbo/golddigger). So I’m really not tempted to discover the stereotypes and bullshit involved in being the December.
PhDork: I teach young men in their prime “cub” years, and while there have been some over the years who are cute/smart/charming, I’ve never found myself really *attracted* to them. And not because I’m trying to keep my hands to myself. 18-22 year olds are rather callow, and I can’t get het up about pretty packaging if the box is empty, ifyannowhutimeen. And I’ve (almost) never been the hook-up-with-a-near-stranger type, even when I have been single.
SarahMC: If you don’t want *your* box to be empty, you’re gonna have to take what you can get in your old age.
BeckySharper: I agree completely that really young men just seem so…young. I’m sure there are rare men out there who are old and wise beyond their years–just as there are men who are middle-aged outside and little boys inside–but in general, if I see a hot dude in his 20s, I just assume he’s got a lot of growing up to do, and–as we say down South–I ain’t takin’ ‘em to raise. I did date a sexy Aussie guy last year who was 27 and very open about preferring older women. I was 33 at the time but his previous relationship had been with a woman in her early 40s. He claimed that older women are more confident, calm and sexually assertive than 20something women, and he preferred them for that reason. He definitely was much more mature–emotionally and sexually–than most 27 year old men of my acquaintance, but I’m not sure whether he was attracted to older women because he was more mature, or he became more mature by spending so much time in their company.
Still, if I’m going to have to take what I can get when I’m middle-aged (and therefore hideous by Patriarchal standards), at least this dumbass Cougar stereotype acknowledges the fact that young dudes might still be interested in an older woman…even though I’ll have to stalk them, pounce and then drag them home in my jaws.
Isn’t that at least somewhat better than the usual image of women over 40 as lumpy old broads who should just stay home and cuddle their 87 cats?
PhDork: Yes, but the “cougar” image is still really limited in terms of race and class and bodytype. Attractive in a conventionally feminine sense, gym-fit, at least middle-class, and white white white.
BeckySharper: Didn’t Fran Drescher do a show a while back about being with a much younger man–based on her own experiences? I seem to remember it coming and going pretty quickly. Maybe it didn’t play into the whole “Sexy…rawr!” stereotype enough. Fran’s gorgeous, but she’s a Jewish comedian with a big loud honk of a voice–not a cougar from the Demi/Courtney Cox mold.
PhDork: Was the term “cougar” even used when Terry McMillan brought us Stella and her sexy Caribbean cub Winston 15 years ago? Are there any non-white characters in Cougar Town? I have the perhaps misbegotten impression that the older-woman/younger man relationship is actually more common in non-white groups, although I couldn’t say why.
So, readers, share your thoughts. Are there any cougars–or aspiring cougars–among us? Have you subjected yourself to Cougar Town? Is the fascination with cougars just about finding another female demographic to exploit and objectify, or is there an upside to this soi-disant cultural phenomenon?