We're not huge fans of the word cougar — used, for the most part, to try to humiliate women who date younger men (their "prey," known as cubs). But for better or worse, it's in the lexicon, which means that the idea that older women can still be sexy — and sexual — is out there, too. The following group of films shows that the cougar's been around in popular culture for a while, that cougar/cub desire is a two-way street, and that these couplings can be good, bad, or downright scary.
Too young to be a cougar? Too old to be illegal? Well, marketers are carving out a niche for cougars in training, that is women under 40 who like younger men.
There's already a school for aspiring cougars, and now there's a name: pumas. San Francisco will elect its Miss Bay Area Puma on Feb. 18, and I imagine similar contests are being held around the world. All winners will be sent to Jamaica to compete for the title of Miss Puma during International Cougar Week at the end of March.
Who's responsible for all this? It's actually sponsored by the Society of Single Professionals, a nonprofit organization for singles (its website certainly looks nonprofit!), and the Singles Travel Company. Though the cougar trend really only exists in pop culture, they've twisted the cougar-cub phenomena into an empowering movement for women.
"Midlife women are victimized by our youth-oriented society," says Rich Gosse, organizer of International Cougar Week. "They are regarded as 'non-sexy.' Supposedly guys are only attracted to nubile 20-year-olds found in the centerfolds of men's magazines. The truth is that there are many millions of men who find older women attractive. We will prove that during International Cougar Week."
Are you convinced?
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With schools for cougar training and cub conventions for preying, you'd think the cougar-cub trend had gone wild. But a new study, which surveyed 22,000 online daters, found it to be a myth among real men and women.
Instead women and men sought stereotypically aged partners. Women preferred men who were the same age or slightly older (and wealthier), while men preferred attractive, younger women. In fact, the older men get the younger their ideal woman is.
So is the boy toy a myth? The study seems to think so, saying the cougar phenomena is currently contained to celebrities and pop culture. It, however, did not survey the US, but it did talk to several similar countries like Canada, Britain, Australia, and Germany.
It could be a matter of time before the boy-toy myth becomes a reality — though I'd say it would have happened already — but it's probably just a small number of younger-men-loving women, and that's all it ever will be.
Are you surprised?
Photo courtesy HBO
Perhaps Millbrae, CA, should start calling itself Cougar Town. This weekend, the San Francisco suburb hosted the National Cub Convention for cougars (in this case, women over 40) and the "cubs" who love them.
I'm all for women over age 40 embracing their youthful spirit and heading into the dating scene, but this report from the convention floor rubs me the wrong way. To find out why, read more
Mark your calendars, cougar-wannabes! November 6 is your big day. Before the California Cougar Convention takes place at the Beverly Hills Crowne Plaza Hotel, cougar expert Lucia (no last name?) will host a cougar tutorial. The Cougar School must have a very easy learning curve, because this "Queen of the Cougar Jungle" Lucia teaches the class at 6:30 — and then gives the keynote address at 8 p.m.!
I imagine her instruction will go something like this: "Wear sexy clothes, make it known you're sexually available, and go to a bar where cubs are." I mean — could it be any more difficult than that?
What do you think about Cougar School?
I dislike the word "cougar," but I've got no problem with women going after younger men. After seeing Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer and in this photo on the set of Inception, I think I have a new younger-man crush.
Gordon-Levitt isn't that much my junior — it's not nearly as extreme as my 30-something friend's thing for Zac Efron — but he's baby-faced enough that the crush feels a bit cougarlike. How about you: what younger male celeb do you find most alluring?
Ugh, along with the acronym MILF, is there a worse word than "cougar" to describe an older (read: older than 30) woman who remains a sexual being? (I know, I know, cougar describes a woman on the prowl for younger dudes.) In spite of all that, I still think this video is hilarious. I love how, after they define cougar ("an older single woman who frequents clubs and bars looking for innocent young men she can have passionate hate sex with") that guy goes, "Yeah!" Passionate hate sex? Bring it!