Fierce Women Dish

an artist, a journalist, an activist, a psychologist, a student, and a diva place a cup of nourishment on the table.

This week’s topic: Cougars, dating and double standards April 21, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — fiercewomen @ 9:13 am

What’s the big deal with women dating men who are younger?  Is cougar a celebratory word or a patronizing one?  Is there a double standard about May-December romances?

Crystal: We all seem to agree on the first question…and the last. However, this pack divides on the second one.

Is a older woman dating a younger guy a big deal?

Donna: I just don’t think it’s a big deal—the older we all get, the less age difference matters.

Roise: I am with Donna.  I don’t think it is any big deal for a woman to date someone younger than she is (well, as long as it’s legal), but the term cougar just offends me.

Amy: I agree with Rosie and Donna. I don’t think it’s a big deal.

Janine: My sentiment exactly–“What is the BIG deal about women dating younger men??” I mean they have names for men who date younger women–studs, gigolos. Excuse me, let me be a little more current–how about players or ‘playas’ or at least that’s the assumption. It’s just no big deal when men do it.

Crystal: I’ve only dated one man older than me so it’s no biggie.

Cougar: celebratory or patronizing?

Amy: I do think the term cougar is patronizing.  Do we have a comparable term for older men who dad younger women . . . would it be something like “sugar daddy”. . .this is still patronizing for the woman who is assumed to be looking for a rich father figure rather than a legitimate love interest.

Rosie: Why can’t a woman who is dating just be a woman who is dating? The labels are a way of qualifying and classifying someone as a type, and I think we should all have the freedom to not be put in a box of someone else’s understanding or creation.

Crystal: The term “cougar” actually makes me giggle. I use it about myself or when talking with or listening to Louise “Wheezy” Glover, my favorite cougar. I don’t take the label seriously. I think people use labels when they’re not comfortable with someone or a situation.

Janine: At the end of the day, isn’t it about being happy with whomever??  I think we clearly get too caught up in what other people think. Young, old–as long as you’re not breaking any laws, who cares if we’re cougars and they are the cubs.

Is there a double standard at play? Do May-December relationships work?
Janine: It IS a double standard. I used to date ‘younger men.’ And yes, it’s true–they’re exciting, unpredictable, a little more care-free, have plenty of stamina, too (if you know what I mean).  I didn’t have an issue with it at all–until he asked ME to buy the drinks (a little too young perhaps).

There are some pros and cons to dating younger or older. My boyfriend today would actually be called the ‘stud’ because I”m 10 years younger than he is (he’s 51, I”m 41). His life to his friends is the ‘best thing ever.’ They say to him, “Wow! She’s so young.” (yeah, right) And then they slap a ‘high five’. At that point, I’m not sure whether to be flattered because of the ‘so young’ compliment or be insulted because I now feel like a ‘trophy’ no one his age was ever supposed to get.

Rosie: I recently heard that if men want to date someone who is younger, then they should date someone who is half their age plus seven (that’s “the cutoff” was the implication).  So, a 50 year old shouldn’t date someone who is younger than 32, a 25 year old shouldn’t date someone younger than 19.  I have no clue where this formula came from but it seems that women should be given the same allowances—that dating younger shouldn’t just be the domain of men.

Donna: I do think it is a bit of a double standard—men have for years. I did read an article recently about men in their 20s that went out ‘cougar hunting’. They were specifically looking for groups of older women— older than their 20s — out together for casual hook ups. It was all very contrived, from what they wore — no flashy watches, for example, because ‘cougars don’t need your money, they have their own’ and the description of their stealthy planned approach of any group of women on a girl’s night out. Now that seemed predatory as well as somewhat offensive.

Crystal: It seems to be less of a double standard. Whether it works or not depends on the people in volved. Although I do think there’s a difference in a 54-year-old woman dating a 34-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman dating a 20-year-old guy. Here’s my question: is being a cougar a heterosexual phenom? Does it apply to older women who date women half their age?

Amy: I actually think it’s great that people are just out there dating other people and that some of our age norms are changing.  I’m certainly not living out the traditional female role of my mother and grandmother. I hope that with all the challenges of being a modern woman we also get some newfound freedoms in choosing our best partner.

What do you think: Big deal? Cougar: celebratory or patronizing? And is there a double standard?


9 Responses to “This week’s topic: Cougars, dating and double standards”

  1. Jill Says:

    I married a younger man but I don’t like the term “cougar”. I also know a man who would bar hop looking for “cougar’s” because he knew he would get some ( if you know what I mean).

  2. petitedragon Says:

    I am married to a man younger than I, but only by 2 years. I have dated quite a few younger men; one was 21 to my 33. I never really thought about my age actually, and neither did they. Quite frankly, my age never even came up. If he was interesting, outgoing and intelligent, I went out with him. I believe that age is what we make of it. I’ve met many people who are not chronologically the age of their intellect or their actions. If two people make each other happy, that is a beautiful thing. It’s what we all want.

    As far as being termed a cougar… I say bring it on! They are beautiful, powerful animals and I’m not at all put out by the comparison.

    As far as men that search for “cougars”… let’s face it… there are just as many women as men searching for someone; whether they are looking for younger, older, taller, shorter, cuter, wealthier, classier or just plain someone to talk to.

  3. NiceGuyEddie Says:

    Let’s look at the “etymology” – such that it is – of the term. According to (hardly an official source, but should do for purposes of explanation) as “An attractive woman in her 30’s or 40’s who is on the hunt once again. She may be found in the usual hunting grounds: nightclubs, bars, beaches, etc. She will not play the usual B.S. games that women in their early twenties participate in. End state, she will be going for the kill, just like [a man].”

    In short, she’s out there specifically to “hook up”. She’s no different than any given male or female out there who’s looking for a little hanky-panky. Can’t women have raw sexuality too? Isn’t it OK for women to go out to have a Good Time?

    Is the term “patronizing”? Probably. In most contexts, it’s used by knuckle-dragging chowderheads that honestly do my gender a grave disservice. Indeed, these swinging globs of testosterone proudly define themselves as “playas”. That said, and (dammit) giving in a bit to their misogynistic Dewey Decimal labeling system, let’s understand that there are plenty of “female playas” out there: women who prowl the bars in search of prey, be it those with more “stamina” (if you know what I mean) or someone who can pick up the tab at the Capital Grill and drive her home in his BMW 8-series. Believe me, I’ve been asked what kind of car I drive and then promptly dismissed when I mentioned my Jeep Cherokee (Sport).

    Kudos to Li’l Dragon here for owning the term (or “pwning” the term, as the kids these days would put it). She’s right. Honestly, there’s a whole world of barflys and boy toys out there looking for a good time, and maybe – just maybe – Mr. or Mrs. Goodbar.

    Just my $0.02…

  4. fiercewoman Says:

    Points well taken from both from both Dragon and Eddie. People DO love to throw labels around and attach them to people, and certainly the use of this term and whether or not it is found to be patronizing has everything to do with the both context and tone in which it’s used…

    Let’s take like the definition of cougar you give from urbandictionary:
    “She will not play the usual B.S. games that women in their early twenties participate in. End state, she will be going for the kill, just like [a man].”

    It’s very interesting to me that if you de-sexualize this definition and boil it down to this: a woman who takes or gives no BS, doesn’t play games, knows what she wants and goes after it, it sounds just like a description of most of the women I know and respect…..

    Isn’t it interesting to note, though, that sometimes as a woman you also get labeled a ‘bitch’ for knowing what you want, being outspoken about it and/or openly going after it. I do know women that embrace this term as well.

    Now, I cannot help but wonder if there is some correlation between attributing these types of labels to strong women…maybe because this has not been the norm in the past in society for women to show their strength, or because this type of ‘behavior’ from women is intimidating to both sexes….

    Thoughts? Comments?


  5. petitedragon Says:

    I think there is a correlation between attributing those types of labels to women (like Bitch), in the same manner as society in commonly labeling sensitive men a “wuss” or telling them to “be a man”, “act like a man”… it is a change for society, women being/acting stronger and men able to show weakness, as most of the centuries have seen roles for men and women very differently, even as close as the years of our grandparents. I believe it is our nature to want to label people and ideas so that we can try to understand them better. Some labels are positive, some negative… but, if we stay true to ourselves and our ideals, the power of that label becomes less and less.

  6. NiceGuyEddie Says:

    OK, I don’t want to drag politics into the fray, and this is NOT an endorsement of Sen. Clinton, but…

    Hillary’s classified as a “bitch” by many. Why? Because she calls ’em like she sees ’em (unless she’s under sniper fire)? Because she can opine with the best of them? Well, you can agree with her views or not, but you certainly don’t get to be a Senator without asserting yourself.

    Point is, if you’re a Boy Politician, you assert yourself in the political arena and you’re labeled as a tough, hardscrabble, take-no-prisoners, the-buck-stops-here kinda guy. You are chock full of true grit, man. You can Get Things Done.

    But if you’re a Girl Politician, you’re just a bitch. Yeesh. That, in a word, sucks.

    We can talk about the sexual double-standards found in the after-hours meat markets all we want, but when it comes to the issue of shaping our nation – something that (should) rely heavily on brainpower, courage, and a strong sense of self – well, hell, Sugar, it’s equal opportunity. You bet. A woman is just as qualified to do the job. Period. And they don’t have to be a “bitch” to do it. It should be about the issues, not whether or not the “bad lady is being mean, Mommy, make her stop”.

    Wonder what Dorothy Parker would have to say about women in politics and/or the term “Cougar”?

  7. Ladyof theSouth Says:

    Before you read my “thought” I want you to understand that I am a 28 year old lady and have been with my husband for 15 years…

    I feel slander is mutual in this society. Women, men and children all are being categorized on a daily basis. Weather it is the “Bitch”, the “weak man” or the “cry-baby kid”. I feel in part that society does this due to the fact they have underlying issues themselves that need to be dealt with. Unfortunately, when a person is educated, determined, goal oriented, beautiful or overly dramatic, they will have a name to accompany it based off today’s social status standards. I think in this scenario that well enough should be left alone…. I feel you are only affected by the status you obtain or the one that society gives you, if you let it. I personally feel we were all taught how to deal with this a young age…”Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. God help you if you did not learn that, you will be a sad soul to anyone you met. It is normal that you will not be accepted by all… it is human nature. Everyone is different and in this case everyone has a different need of fulfillment. Conversely I could easily call these women, arguing the fact these women are being categorized, with the feminist and someone else would have something to say about that. I feel that a “status” is not given but rather received and should be an honor to the person receiving it. Why?! Well, you have worked hard for it…people realize that you obtained this based on your social status. Quite frankly…I would be happy to be one of those “cougars” that do not hunt for the rich but prey on the “normal.” They are really deep down just looking for a real man to be happy with.

    Lady of the South

  8. So I just saw this “A List” search on about Cougars, Pumas, and Jaquars (now there are categories for women who date younger). Here’s the link:

  9. bratboy_y2k Says:

    When I was in my late teens to mid 20’s I exclusivly dated women that were between 35 46. It was fantastic for all parties involved. I even helped many of them comfortably get involved with fetishism. I reffered to them as older women. Sure there are other socially recognized terms now but really it’s just slang. Cougar is just a popular term for an available older woman. The word is irrelevant, it’s the concept that people ought to either be for or against. In this case I’m for :).

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