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

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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?

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