Should ‘Cougars’ Be Leashed?
I hate “Cougar Town”, perhaps the most self-loathing (lots to choose from) show on network television. The risible idea of an older woman — shriek! — dating or sleeping with or chasing a younger man, actually having sexual desires, has become a cultural trope.
Here’s the predictably outraged Andrea Peyser in the New York Post:
Susan Winter’s relationship at 40 with a 19-year-old led her to write “Older Women, Younger Men: New Options for Love and Romance” (Horizon Press). And she understands the “ick” factor.
“What’s empowering about a middle-age woman coming on to a younger guy at a bar and taking him home?” asked Winter, now 55. “Do you really want to wear leopard-skin pants, crop top and muffin fat hanging over?
“Being with someone younger expands our choices. What we find unattractive is the idea of a predator.”
Carolyn, 44, works in the music industry and dates younger guys. But she knows some men get turned off — or on, for the wrong reasons.
“I’m dating people, they have to know how old I am,” she said. “I’m the one who’s uncomfortable.”
It was inevitable that society would turn against women’s gray hair, crow’s feet and belly fat. But I won’t be the butt of jokes.
Act your age, ladies. And lay off the boys.
Because if you head into any New York (substitute any major city name here) bar, you’ll find some fat old guy with a comb-over and healthy self-esteem working hard to pick up lithe, pretty girls half his age. Yet when women play the man’s game, the wrist-slapping, pursed-lips crowd remind us it’s not seemly for a woman over…35? to have a sexual appetite, let alone want to enjoy it with a younger guy.
I think they’re all really jealous.
Many older women are in great shape. Those gray hairs? Feh. We treasure our colorists. We earn our own incomes, own our own homes and, best of all for some younger men, have our own clearly formed identities without the social validation of a husband.
After my divorce, my first boyfriend was six years younger, his successor eight years younger. For most of my older single life, (before settling down with someone four months my junior), I dated guys much younger than myself, mostly because they were a lot more fun. They had more energy and optimism.
Available older guys were too often embittered sad sacks — broke from divorce/child support/alimony; worn out from endless fighting with their ex-wife(ves); broken by the forces of middle age, whether the loss of their hair or their job.
The ones my age who were in decent shape? Too busy chasing college-age kiddies to even glance in my direction.
Cougars are using the basic laws of supply and demand to their advantage — older guys (i.e. men their age, 40+) won’t even consider dating most of them. New York City women over 35, even the ropy-armed crowd lean as whippets, freshly manicured/pedicured/highlighted/Botoxed, wearing their best designer dresses, are a dime a dozen. They know it, men know it. Oversupply.
Younger men — 10 or 12 or 15 years younger — even five or six years younger, offer an appealing alternative. I used to call them Kit Kat boys, like the candy bar, a nice, light snack. They probably won’t marry you or nurse you through your hip replacement(s), but they have their own charms. They dance well, know cool music, are up for adventure. One of them told me, appreciatively, how much he valued our age difference. Women his age, he said, were an amorphous, identity-seeking mess, too often focused on Getting The Ring.
I’d just lost a lousy husband and was in no rush to make that mistake twice.
I did hit bottom the night I met a lovely young —- oooooohhhh, so young — man in one of my favorite Manhattan bars. We dated a few times but it wasn’t working out too well. Not because he lived in Queens (where I’d never even been before) and I north of the city. But because he kept talking about college. Because he’d just graduated.
I could barely remember college.
There are limits to how low one can go. But it’s up to the man, and the woman, to make that decision.
Not the finger-wagging crowd.
Have you ever dated someone much younger (or older)? How did it turn out? Would you (never) consider it?