Why ‘Cougar’ Doesn’t Mean Cool

Awhile ago, it popped up in a conversation and sparked off a wave of laughter. I glared. He grinned and said,

“But the cougar is a beautiful animal!”

No, the man just did not get it.

Here are some of the descriptions I found of the word, on Urban Dictionary:

Cougar:

“A 35+ year old female who is on the “hunt” for a much younger, energetic, willing-to-do-anything male. The cougar can frequently be seen in a padded bra, cleavage exposed, propped up against a swanky bar waiting, watching, calculating; gearing up to sink her claws into an innocent young and strapping buck who happens to cross her path.”

“An older woman who is past her prime & who is attracted to younger men, often as an act of desperation or as a last resort.”

“A Cougar is a female, usually between thirty and fifty years-old, who enjoys the sexual company of younger men. Cougars are only usually interested in men under the age of twenty-five. Also, Cougars are non-committal, choosing to move from mate to mate without ever settling down. It is not uncommon for the same Cougar to attack (sleep with) many different men in the same group of friends.”

I struggle with labels and for one single reason – because they rarely evolve as human descriptions should and often stay limited to the associations that they started with. This is also why I’ve never liked most popular descriptions of men for women, notably one that reminds me of a fluffy, yellow-feathered bird.

A cougar describes an older woman and one who it is acceptable to see as a sex object. This much is actually fine and inoffensive. But overlaid on that are perceptions of desperation, of cheap behaviour, of non-committedness and a generally predatory aura. While some of those may seem appealing within an erotic fantasy, no one (man or woman) wants to be described in those terms.

There is an almost tangible movement in popular culture today, pushing the idea of an independent woman acquiring male attention from the always most attractive age group – the 20s. That prototype has existed for years (think Hugh Hefner surrounded by nubile bunny-eared beauties). This is no more than a female version of the same archetype and it’s not pushing sex or freedom, it’s about power.

As a recipient of all the benefits of women’s liberation and empowerment, I enjoy financial independence, the virtue of fabulousness, the heady high of choices and control over my own body. My only problem with this, is that it’s cold when it gets into the realm of relationships. I don’t like the idea of treating human beings, male or female as acquisitions or status symbols. Whether men have been doing it for decades or not doesn’t change things. I can’t see how a relationship that is about exchanging power for money/fame can have anything to do with love, trust or any of those things that make a relationship great.

To come back, that’s why the description of cougar stings. If the original thought be true, it shouldn’t matter what
gender a person is, for them to be appealing to a large number of the opposite sex (younger or otherwise). It’s not an age no-bar situation. Age and experience have after all molded one into a person of confidence, ease, polish and independence. Attraction is flattering when it happens because I’m me, not because I fit the current fashionable norm of appealing. So yes, ask me my age by all means. But don’t call me a cougar.

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About IdeaSmith

IdeaSmith is the digital doppelganger of Ramya Pandyan (intrepid train-traveller and frequent spouter of post-midnight rhymes and rants). As IdeaSmith she battles obscurity and slays boredom with her stories about men, books, digitalia and Mumbai. She performs live and also blogs, tweets, Instagrams, Facebooks, +G’s, Youtubes and Goodreads all as IdeaSmith. Ramya is a blogger, digital storyteller and spoken word performer. She also runs a forum for aspiring writers called Alphabet Sambar. Tweet-bomb her at @ideasmithy.

Posted on June 8, 2011, in Featured, Relationships, The Dating Game, Times, they are a-changing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. At least there’s a sexy thing bout ‘Cougar’..the male equivalent fr the cougar wud probably b spelled ‘U-N-C-L-E’ or ‘B-H-U-D-D-A’ or some other random unsexy term 🙂

  2. Couger has been always used [or atleast I have perceived it as] negative. Lets say we go by all the definitions and term a woman who is no longer in her 20s, who enjoys sexual company, of men older or younger than her, and is non committal. What’s negative about any of the above definitions?. I think people expect many things of their relationships, and “non commitment” is one among them, which both the genders seem to enjoy. So is the sexual company, why is it wrong if a not so young woman enjoys it. Isn’t that natural?

    The only thing negative about the term is, how these women are put across as being easy targets for men, and not the other way around [women trying to attack men]

    • @Rambler: What’s negative? Nothing at all, except that in popular perception, these are coloured with dispproval and disrespect. But you’ve a valid point about their being easy targets.

  3. at Cougar sound better than Tharki Bhudha.. or something.. Lolz…:)

  4. If you fancy humping younger men then the cap fits…wear it !

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