The Dating Game: Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better (Including Dating Way Younger)

Megan Carpentier
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I hate the term “cougar.” I mean, I also hate “MILF” and anything else that attempts to define older women or those that have have had children as inherently unfuckable—and thus the rare few supposedly worthy of placing a man’s dick in as special—because, damn it, I have no intention of leaving my sexual self in the same dustbin as the idealism of my pre-recession twenties. But I hate cougar because there is no predatory animal to whom men that devote themselves to exclusively fucking younger women are compared: men are, of course, going to want to fuck younger women, and yet older women are supposed to content themselves with ever older men. Fuck that shit.

Not to say that I didn’t date older men in my twenties: to my detriment, I certainly did. The divorcés, the never-marrieds, the taking-off-the-ring types. I dated the whole motley crew of misfits and miscreants and, inevitably, they made me long for the more understandably fucked up men of my own generation (or younger). Maybe it’s part and parcel of being part of the post-sexual-revolution generation and trying to date men that were raised with the old nuclear model only to randomly discover casual sex later on, but, I’ll be damned if my weirdest dating stories don’t inevitably involve men born before 1970.

I dated a few younger men in college—a year seemed like a big deal to me then, because my sister was two years younger—but it wasn’t until I neared 30 that I went out with someone society might have deemed absurdly younger. And, damn, was it a good time. So good, in fact, that I spoke about it (video audio is as NSFW as this post thus far).

I didn’t stop there, either. I’ve since dated men younger than my sister, even, breaking my long-ago high school rule. (In fact, I’m still doing so.) Since I turned 30, I’ve had two long-term relationships with people older than me: one was the top entry on my worst ways to get dumped list, and the other one was slightly less screwed up, but far more emotionally fraught. On the other hand, all the younger men I’ve gone out with have been deeply respectful of my boundaries, thoughtful, and are still people with whom I have close friendships.

But, somehow, women that want to bang (or have relationships) with younger dudes (or ladies) are considered weird—despite, I think we can admit, the significant differences in sex drive and performance as we age—and dudes that spend their midlife crises exclusively pursuing younger woman are considered the norm. Again: whatevs. Women that do it get a funny label to indicate that it’s not the norm, and men are just doing something “normal.”

The important thing in a relationship is that the power dynamic suits you and your partner, not that it suits society. Age, as I’ve learned, doesn’t solely determine who is more submissive or dominant, it doesn’t determine the level of equality, and it damn well doesn’t determine how good (or bad) the sex is. So, get on with your bad selves. Just treat all your partners (younger or older) with the respect you want, and demand the same for yourself.

[Image via ucumari on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]

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10 Comments Have Been Posted

The closest equivalent older men have

is Sugar Daddy, which sounds like -- wheeeee! -- a bright, harmless Candyland character. I think there's also something to be said about the fact that the term "Sugar Daddy" is overtly linked to money, while there's no assumption that a so-called "cougar" either has money to spend or would spend anything on a younger partner (because, y'know, she's a chick!)

Anyway, agreed on all counts. My significant other is two years younger than me, which doesn't seem like much, but we still occasionally get comments about it. Most of the time, when I've gotten the feeling that I'm dating someone too "young," they've actually been older than me and the sensation was just an indication of their maturity, or lack thereof. So long as everyone involved is a consenting adult, ages don't guarantee anything, and why should anyone else care?

And yet if we women prefer

And yet if we women prefer older men, we're called gold diggers, or if they're not rich, grave robbers. >:(

Personally, I'd never date anyone really older or younger than me (my current boyfriend's only 6 weeks my senior) but yes, affixing labels to people is creepy.

You Rock

I watched your youtube video. It makes me realize how tight lipped my girlfriends and I can be about the details of our sex lives. I'm from a conservative small-ish town Indiana and have been shamed into silence on multiple occasions when attempting to talk about sex in any detail. I live for the day when I can exist in a world where creative and open sexual discussion is norm and women can be viewed as witty and self aware and self actualized, instead of written off as inappropriate or slutty, when talking about sex, age and politics in such frank and enlightening terms. Thank you.

I feel like you're fighting

I feel like you're fighting one double standard by creating another one. You are counter arguing "cougars" as being a negative, predatory connotation by saying, "Hey, men who date younger women are not normal, because look, all the older men I dated are total creeps."

Agreed. As the partner of a

Agreed. As the partner of a dude who is 15 years my senior, I find this entry kind of odd and head scratchy. Also, I personally don't find any magic in dating anyone who doesn't remember the Cosby Show during its initial run, but I'd never have the cheek to be prescriptive about it. It's my personal preference and not a pathway to the truth.

I also do not bed people who don't know who Sydney Pollack is or who have not seen <em>Three Days of the Condor</em>. So far that's worked out well for me, but it's still not something I'd suggest to others.

Yeah, your bad taste in older men is really more of a you problem rather than a generalized older men problem. That said, cougar label is overwhelming misapplied to working class, poor or other marginalized women. Nice white ladies aren't really called "cougar" unless it's TV and played for laughs or faux empowerment. MILF is really classist and racist as it generally only refers to middle class or affluent suburban white moms and is more a designation of most favored status and not merely about who is still allowed to be sexy/sexual.

Actually, the fact there is all this "cougar" backlash is in itself pretty telling. Ladies with class, race and gender privilege are having the word hurled at them and suddenly it's "problematic". Hi, it was problematic the first time it was hurled at a working class woman who was dating a man significantly younger than herself. The term was being hurled against marginalized women years before Matt Damon's character in <em>Ocean's 13</em> characterized Ellen Barkin's character as one! Like, "chillax" and "talk to the hand" before it, "cougar" apparently has finally made it to the 'burbs.

"In real life as in Grand Opera, Arias only make hopeless situations worse." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

What about "Dirty Old Men"?

Or worse yet, "Cradle Robber", which is almost like calling someone a pedophile. Those terms are waaaaaaaaay worse than "Cougar". Shit, who would be insulted by being compared to a beautiful creature like a cougar?

That being said, all of these terms are bullshit and yes, women get a harder time about this whole thing then men do. But I think it's less so due to some idea that "cougars" are in.

People can't help who they fall in love with and age shouldn't matter. On the other hand, if you are dating younger people strictly for that thrill then......if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck.....

Errr, a cougar is an ANIMAL,

Errr, a cougar is an ANIMAL, and the connotations suggest that an older woman is being predatory anyway (thus the choice of a predatory animal). "Dirty old men" and "cradle robbers" are also predatory, but at least they get to be HUMAN. This is just made worse by all the other 'inoffensive' ways that women are compared to or treated like animals and meat on a daily basis.

i was wondering

why do you guys want to be soooo equal you wana work the sam job as us- ok you wanna wear pants- ok etc etc etc goes on forever but when im talking round you you want to be treated like a ladie nah i aint going thats bull you all treat us like dogs and make us feel stupid milf and couger??? really? it all started as a joke FOR GUYS then that dumb movie made it seem so stupid women you are not being treated any diffrent least i dont see it.....what it comes down to is if the men you mess with aint sh*t then stop messin with aint sh*t men that dont meen every man aint sh*t just the ones you been f*ckin and if you think my language is bad to dam bad its how i talk to dudes so equal treatment rite??

-Love your friend E

Trust me...

It's not your language I have a problem with, it's your offensively ignorant "insight" and laughable lack of eloquence (and syntax, for that matter).

You think it's unfair to be

You think it's unfair to be judged for your age, yet you imply that older men are inferior to younger ones? That older men who want to date younger women MUST be going through a midlife crisis?

I think you have some sexist thoughts to unwind.

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