Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Should Be a Four Letter Word

There are a few words in the English language that I cannot stand to hear spoken. One of those words is a racial slur, and two others are slang for parts of the female anatomy. Honestly, I hear those words and my skin crawls and I want to find a hole to hide in.

But now there is another word that causes me to cringe when I hear it used in a particular context - cougar.

I'm talking about cougar when defined as: a woman, usually over the age of 35, who seeks out the sexual attention of men who are younger than she is, usually in their early-to-mid twenties.

Basically, cougar as it is used to describe the female version of a dirty old man.

The local radio station that I listen to recently ran a gag wherein they were sponsoring a "cougar" party, stocking the event with young guys and inviting self-proclaimed or wannabe cougars to call in and win chances to attend. The radio station would play a snarling cougar sound byte as part of the promo, and every single time I heard that sound, I had to turn the station.

I have no idea why this irritates me so much. Maybe it's because I'm over 35 and the idea of anyone thinking of me as a cougar humiliates me. I do appreciate the pleasing face and form of a young, physically fit male, but I'm in no way on the prowl. In my world, cougar is far from a compliment.

Too, I can't get out of my head the stereotypical image of a middle aged woman, face painted with layers of makeup, body stuffed into lycra pants and a gaudy beaded top, cruising the bars looking to score. This is just as bad as the depiction of some balding middle aged guy cruising college campuses in his mid-life crisis vehicle, looking to score some young ass. Ick on so many levels.

I guess I also have issue with what I perceive is certain amount of desperation being turned into some kind of joke. I'm sure there are many cougars out there who love their lives, are happy with their choices, and are very proud of their ability (after a certain age) to attract the attention of younger men. But for me, the word cougar denotes a certain amount of desperation and neediness - that these women must have the attention of younger (and presumably attractive) men in order to validate themselves. If this is the case, why is it okay to make that into a joke? Nobody thinks it's okay to be a dirty old man. And certainly no radio station I know of would consider sponsoring a "Dirty Old Man" event wherein men over the age of 35 or 40 are encouraged to call in so that they can win a chance to attend a party stocked full of women in their early twenties.

Of course, my pity is probably unwarranted. These cougars are probably having the greatest sex possible and should be the subjects of envy. Somehow, though, I can't manage that reaction.

I'm not a fan of extreme May/December romances, which I admit is totally unreasonable. No reason an older woman can't or shouldn't find love and happiness with a younger man. But I've figured out why I have a problem with it - I can't manage to get rid of the cougar factor.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A dirty old man party sounds like a good idea to me. Sign me up!