Bed, Bitch & Beyond: Bitch? Yes. Cougar? No.

A while back when a girlfriend and I were walking by a billboard for the Vivica Fox-hosted reality show, “The Cougar.” I made some snarky comment about this not exactly being the equality feminists dream of, and the friend gave me a cheeky grin and said, “You know, that older woman is only 39.”

That’s less than five years away, folks. Apparently I don’t have long before I go from flirty thirty-something sexual adventurer to predatory over-the-hill sexual adventurer, at least in the eyes of TV producers. I should probably call ahead to see if they can line up some callow youths for me. But the problem is, I’m not particularly attracted to young men. In fact, I already know I would just plain suck at being a cougar.

I have three little brothers who range in age from 23-18. The little brothers have friends. More than once, the friends have hit on me, and some of these guys were–objectively speaking–pretty hot. But while a college athlete’s body is a thing of beauty, I wasn’t all that tempted. First of all, I knew that even just a fun roll in the hay would condemn my brothers to years of “Yo, Sharper, I fucked your sister!” I couldn’t do that to them. Second of all, as I recall from my own experience, college guys are fairly lousy in the sack. Energetic and enthusiastic maybe, but their technique usually needs a lot of refining.

Granted, there are some women who like that. Madonna, when asked about her predilection for very young men, once said: “They don’t know what they’re doing, but they can do it all night long.” Yikes. I don’t know about you, ladies, but marathon sex with a dude who doesn’t know what he’s doing does not appeal AT ALL (and sounds like an excellent way to wind up with a raging UTI). But to each her own. Personally, I know what I like, and what I like is a man who doesn’t need to be introduced to the concept of female orgasm. Or the location of the clitoris. Or the importance of reciprocity. By the time men hit their 30s and 40s, you can reasonably expect these things from your lovers (well, more or less. Some men are slow learners). Yes, learning together is fun, and I enjoyed it when I was younger. But I’m not interested in reliving it, either.

Since I turned 30, I’ve had the chance to date, or just to shtup, guys in their early to mid-twenties, and each time, I’ve politely said “no, thank you.” This is one of the few issues where I realize how despite all my assertions that women should have the same societal privileges as men, I am unable to walk that walk.

Older men love younger women (and I should know). It has ever been thus, mainly for cultural reasons of money, power and Patriarchy. Now that women are wealthier and more powerful, they’re more often the December in May/December romances. Pop culture certainly seems in love with the idea of the older women with younger men, although I suspect that’s because pop culture gets off on the edgy and transgressive. “Cougars” fit the bill, since they challenge the traditional idea that younger women are hot and older women are icky or sexless.

I don’t condemn women who want to date younger men–if that’s what works for them, great. If men can do it without being shamed, then so, in theory, should we. But the older I get, the more I realize that it’s one masculine privilege I’m not interested in co-opting. Much younger men simply don’t hold much allure for me. I think it’s yet another of the ways that despite the gains of feminism, even when I’m an old girl, I’ll never be be one of the old boys.

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9 Comments Have Been Posted


My friends tease me that I am a cougar all the time. I'll be 37 next week and my BF is 28. I know I'm not, but it's kinda funny I suppose.

Here is Sarah Haskins on the topic ...

All I can say is that I would much rather be a "cougar" having a younger boyfriend (because I, too, am nearing that 40s decade still looking young enough to be ID-carded at a bar every now and then) than being some 50-60 something year old man's "trophy wife/girlfriend," "sweet young thing," and such. I find that relationship dynamic far creepier.

oh, man this was funny as hell.

so true. all of it. young men also have the "ew" factor for me because they haven't perfected the art of hygiene yet, either.

There's something to be said

There's something to be said for "gettin' 'em young and trainin' 'em right." I've had a long suspicion that at least part of the attraction younger women have for older men is sheer ignorance and malleability -- lack of experience, lack of confidence, not knowing what she likes (or should/shouldn't like) and wants all play into the power balance, and allow an older man to be, shall we say, less than stellar while still getting the admiration (that is, if we classify the older man as being one who isn't interested in anything but getting his rocks off and his ego polished, which isn't a fair or even accurate assessment). Still, being the one with experience puts him in the 'teacher' position.

I've been the (relatively) older, more experienced woman a few times. If the younger guy accepts the "pupil" role in the relationship, it can be a lot of fun, even if the relationship doesn't last very long. And perhaps you teach the callow youth something that will benefit him and his next lover.

Still, that's pretty altruistic. I don't blame you for a lack of interest in taking on the project.

Why, I wonder, is that "predatory, sexually adventurous older woman" so threatening that she requires a special, dehumanizing code word? And why do other women pick it up and use it so much?

Whole "cougar" thing is so...icky.

And why is there not an equivalent code word for men? Because people see men liking younger women as just the way things are. (Yes, we have "womanizer" -- but that's not specific to older men, and "cradle robber" is applied to all genders.)
Wondering, Becky, have you seen the new show starring Courtney Cox? I think it's called "Cougar Town." Sounds pretty awful, not to mention that Cox looks very young herself!

the male equivalent of a cougar

I'd like to suggest 'badgers'

subconciously aspiring to cougardom

first of all, i noticed you just wrote your last post a little while ago, so i want to mention that i have really enjoyed this blog.

secondly, i just have to respond to this. i'm pretty young, but married and have been for almost 6 years now. so, not forever, but long enough to have an, "oh, holy shit, forever is a really, really damn long time," moment or two. so at some point, when contemplating my forever-married-future-sex-life not too long ago, i came to a strange realization. when picturing my sexual future, i had always, in the not-to-distant recesses of my mind, envisioned myself as a mrs.robinson sort. only, you know, not married. and not depressed about it. well, there where a whole hell of a lot of things wrong with mrs. robinson in the end, but for a few golden moments in that movie, to me, she was just the ultimate of awesome. the whole being more experienced, sexually powerful, sleeping with the nubile-young-hotness thing really appealed to me.

i'm still too young to have ever been the "cougar" (though i have told all of this to the husband, to which he replied that i would always be a "milf" to him), so i can't say from experience or anything, but for me the fantasy is kind of a power trip. i'm not bad looking, but i'm not the hot chick, so i've always felt like, as my projected sexiness comes mostly from my total awesomeness, it would be more readily obvious when i was older, more experienced, smarter, and, hopefully, successful.

but probably more than anything, i'm also a ridiculous ogler (which i might feel more bad about in another time and place, but i tend to think that men can deal with it, and maybe even deserve a good dose of it). so a huge part of it is that i just am very visual, and really like to look at young men in the blush of youth, preferably mostly nude. the preformance thing isn't so much of an issue for me -- really, it's almost completely separate. i pretty much never have a problem getting off, so perhaps that aids in my shallowness, but i've definitely got a lot of sex memories where the maybe sex was meh, but man, the guy was beautiful. or memories where i know the sex was great, but mostly remember how amazingly gorgeous and perfect the man looked to me throughout it. to be honest, the prettiness of my sex partner is usually enhanced by their personality and by the sex, but the prettiness is what i remember most.

so, what i'm really tiptoeing around saying, or at least, you could certainly phrase it this way, is that i really remember with fondness when i banged the hot dudes. clearly, if a guy said this, it would be problematic. i like to think i approach the issue with a bit more delicacy, and am not a douche about it (for example, i do not muse on what beverages i will be proffered when i pay for my heinousness for all eternity), but i do think this is not a standpoint from which a lot of women tend to operate, probably for a boatload of cultural reasons, and may be, imho, at least partly why the cougar thing doesn't appeal as broadly to a lot of women.

also, as an aside, i think it's worth mentioning that lauded cougars nowadays look like demi moore and courtney cox -- not exactly equivalent to their male counterparts of, say, jack nicholson, harrison ford, and woody allen, to name a few. the ladies look like they're in their early 30s, while the dudes look decrepit. bring up the ultimate fictional cougar -- who is, of course, maude -- and most people still find that pretty scandalous and even gross.

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