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The Secret Life of the American Cougar

The Secret Life of the American Cougar
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To hell with the young ones that don’t know their G-spot from their clit, or who think that perky tits and a flat tummy are the keys to getting a date. Give me a little of that Cougar spirit!

  Reinventing 40

Amazingly enough, 40 is no longer the bane of women’s existence that it was when I was a kid. We all thought that age 40 meant that you were old—that’s when your hair turned gray, and your social life became a mockery. Chances are that your husband (if you still had one) was schtupping one of the young women from the steno pool, and you were left at home to clean the lipstick prints on his collar…and not say anything about it to him, because everyone knew that to be a divorcee over 40 was to resign yourself to a life of cheap apartments, nobody to help parent your children, and nothing to look forward to beyond reruns of Dallas and The Love Boat on a Saturday night.

Lo and behold, something snuck up on us in the intervening years. Forty-something women are now prime real estate in a buyer’s market—and it’s about damn time that they (oh, wait—I mean WE) got some good press! We’ve come from behind in the Race To Sexy, pulling ahead of the oh-so-damaged Lindsay Lohans and Paris Hiltons to take the lead on what’s hot.

And let’s face it—we should. Because not only do women look better because of improvements in nutrition and skin care (at least, those of us who didn’t spend our teens and twenties baking ourselves to a crisp in the sun), we also have finally gotten it through our heads that we aren’t second class citizens anymore. We know ourselves far better than we ever did before; we’ve been there, done that, got the tee shirt, and gave it away to Goodwill. We’re surrounded by amazing role models—other women in their 50s and 60s, who, while fallible, have shown us that we really can be confident, sexy and healthy.

  The Great Cougar Disconnect

So, why do so many images of us seem…neurotic? Courtney Cox Arquette’s character in Cougar Town (which, by the way, was created by two men) looks in the mirror at her admirably well-maintained body and prods and tugs at it, finding so many flaws that if she were a diamond, someone would have ground her up and used her as an industrial abrasive. The visual image of the cougar on the prowl at the bar, with a low-cut, barely-fitting dress aiming her somewhat needy yet predatory gaze at any young gent that happens by, desperately trying to find someone to keep her from going home alone? That’s become a stock image in mainstream media’s portrayals of the sexual exploits of single women “over the hill.” And mainstream media is still primarily staffed with Men Over 40, the guys who seem to be mostly deaf to the cougar’s mating call.

Maybe it’s because we’re not really sure (especially the older men among us) what to do with blatant sexuality coming from women who are the age our mothers were when we were growing up. These are the mothers who we idolized—the bakers of cookies, fixers of skinned knees, and creators of the idyllic image of home. We don’t like to think that our parents ever had sex; could our uncertainty about cougars come from our denial that our mothers were ever sexual beings who loved to do the dirty deed just as much as we do? Or are we overlaying our own prejudices about what’s sexy and hot in the bedroom on our perceptions of older women, with their less than star-quality tits and assets jarring us into the reality that we try so desperately to avoid when thinking about sex?

  The Vintage Advantage

Whatever the reason, there are fortunately a few cubs (or men that are specifically attracted to cougars) out on the market for every woman on the prowl. The lust for a perfectly-aged cougar is wide-spread; sites such as Cougar Talk.com cater to matching up the felines with their prey, and vice-versa. And some of them aren’t just looking for a little extra-curricular fun with teacher; many are specifically interested in long term relationships, including marriage.

“So, why do you like older women?” I asked a friend of mine who’s been involved with his older lover for years. His answer surprised me. “I am a bit of a mama’s boy…I like women with a maternal side to them. I’ve only ever dated one woman that was my own age,” he noted, referring to his very first girlfriend. “I’m just not attracted to younger women the way that I am to older women.”

Other guys I’ve talked to love to partner up with women who know how to get their own sexual pleasure and have enough experience to have a clue when it comes to getting everyone off. Still others note that older women have a sense of being relaxed in their own bodies that makes them more of a pleasure to spend time with. “My wife is 10 years older than I am, and she just doesn’t let stuff get to her like younger women I know,” said Jay. “She walks around naked with the lights on and doesn’t worry about whether I’m looking at her stretch marks, which makes her 10 times sexier than if she felt ashamed of her body.”

And it’s not just the guys. I get pursued by delicious women under the age of 30 on a not-too-uncommon basis; they are often attracted to older women because of their experience in life, their understanding of what it takes to live happily, and their willingness to take control of the situation, in bed and out. And no, not every younger woman wants that, but enough of them do that dykes like me don’t have to worry too much about becoming obsolete in the dating scene.

A few years back, I had a conversation with Dossie Easton, the sensual spitfire and writer of a number of books on BDSM, polyamory, and sexuality. I mentioned to her that if I knew that my late 30s were going to be so much better, physically, psychologically, and sexually, I probably wouldn’t have stressed so much in my 20s.

“Oh, honey,” she said, her eyes dancing like fire, “Wait ’til you’re in your 50s!”

Trust me—after all this? I can’t wait.

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Comments

YES. I went with the rule that a cougar's prey has to be be at least 10 years younger than her, so I've been a cougar since I was 34. I love my 30's SO MUCH better than my 20's.

02/09/2010
JF  

Wow -- being a 21 year old, now i'm starting to not be so scared to turn 50! Smile

02/15/2010
gone77  

While I have no issue with older women--and men--hooking up with younger people, I dislike the terms "cougar" and "cub." I find it hard to take seriously anyone who uses those terms, uh, seriously. As for why a lot of the images out there of "cougars" are neurotic is because a lot of them are. They're not rejuvenated by getting older, they're trying to recapture their lost youth. They fear old age and hope that sleeping with younger men will help them feel and appear younger. In their case, all it does is emphasize their age and make them sorta pitiful figures.

02/19/2010
Kimbalicious  

Kristi: I respectfully say you are entitled to your opinion. Perhaps, however, you might look at YOURSELF closer, as individuals see and interpret things around them in their OWN eyes ONLY. This means this is YOUR interpretation of these terms and the so called "fear of old age and recapturing youth." No one has the right to use the term "They" as if THEY were the speaker of the house on the subject. Walk in the shoes, wiggle in the sand, jump in the water and for goodness sake get a sense of humor!

It may be YOU who is afraid of aging. In any case, terms such as "cougar" and "cub" are only words. It's sad that YOU SEE these images so negatively and have made such a sad interpretation based on your surroundings and your own thoughts. I wish you more wisdom to know the difference.

It's the media (mostly men) that continue to show aging in this light. I believe if you ask most women 40 or over how they feel, it will be in good favor (some less wisdom than others, unfortunately - but I'll bet on majority) - for wisdom and self acceptance comes with age and it should be basked in like a pig in mud.

02/26/2010

People will always come up with labels. It's society's way of both marginalizing what they don't get and trying to fit us all into nice neat boxes. We define ourselves. If you don't like the words "cougar" & "cub," don't use them! Fuck that noise, yanno? I'm a so-called "cougar" as well, being 32 and hopelessly in love with & planning to spend the rest of my life with a 22 year-old. My friends have come up with the nickname Kougar Kake, or KK for short, so I've learned to get a bit of a kick out of it, but I know we all have words we're uncomfortable with, especially when much of society uses them in a derogatory fashion.

04/16/2011

People get way to caught up in who what when and where really as long as the 2 people are happy (and of consenting age) who cares my wife is 15 years older then i am and does it make a to me at all? No of course not. but to others it seems odd or strange but really she is my best friend and has been for a very long time and she makes me happy =)

12/06/2011

i'm "pushing" 40. The slew of men that prefer "cougars" is absolutely amazing. I don't have a preference for younger partners. The fact that so many men are so open about being attracted to older women really does help my confidence though.

09/26/2012

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