Demi Moore. Kim Cattrall. Joan Collins. Even our nation’s beloved Material Girl. These not-so-spring-like chickens have been walking over the hearts of young, impressionable and highly-envied males for decades. Gracing the covers of our guilty-pleasured tabloids with their poise, and their boys, reminding us that despite their age, they’ve still got it.
However, Stacey’s mom hasn’t always had it going on; cougars have just in recent years been growing increasingly accepted in society.
Not entirely unlike the LGBT community, their social acceptance is blossoming with time. From the early days of Queen Elizabeth I to the (in)famous Mrs. Robinson and her fool-proof stockings, cougars throughout the globe have, and continue to serve, as constant reminders that age may just be a number; and the same may apply to their men. Though what many like-mined cougars tend to comfort themselves with are the universal words of wisdom: if people are always going to talk, why not give them something good to talk about?
Centuries before Ashton Punk’D his marriage to Demi Moore, Queen Elizabeth I dubbed herself as the original Cougar–Queen of both the jungle, and England. Though her prestige is undeniable, her legacy for the frisky felines of the world remains unmatched. Never married, Liz made it a point to always put herself, and her country, before any male figure (1). Her relationship with Francis, Duke of Anjou, flourished from 1571 to the time she kicked him to the curb in 1581.. Anjou had no choice but to carry on–the 24-year-old was going to be just fine. Liz, impressively, was 46 (but didn’t look a day over 35).
Fast forward a good 410 years and you’ll stumble upon another Elizabeth: Hollywood legend, Elizabeth Taylor. Known as one of the greatest actresses of the Golden Age of Hollywood, Taylor captured the eyes and hearts of seemingly anyone who came into contact with her–even if the television screen acted as a barrier. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, one may ask? Perhaps her seven ex-husbands. However the fearless 39-year-old Larry Fortensky tried his hand with the tinsel-town tantalizer and walked away with a solid five years of Hollywood “bliss” with the then 59-year-old.
What is curious is that though known for many crowning achievements, very few see the words “cougar” flashing through their minds when thinking of the starlet. There is no room for argument in stating that Elizabeth Taylor and her mystical violet eyes entranced the world with her talent and charm. Though while it holds valid that Taylor could have also slabbed “cougar” on her impressive resumé, we tend to think of her more as a philanthropic angel on the ground.
It could be argued that society places less of an emphasis on the negative aspects of individuals that shape the nation in a such a positive light. According to Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels’ piece “The Mommy Wars: How the Media Turned Motherhood into a Catfight,” it is a curious case when one delves into the economic stature and perhaps correlated moral background of a woman and her choices. Class privilege is an interesting topic for debate, especially in terms of a woman’s choices. “Tanya, who has ___ children by ___ men…” is a common sentence structure seen in various magazines slamming welfare mothers left and right. However, Douglas and Michaels investigate a similar situation of a mother with ___ children by ___ men, yet is painstakingly beautiful and conveniently filthy rich.
Christie Brinkley’s sexuality is as envied as fellow cougar Demi’s abdominals. While struggling, Tanya is seen as a disgrace; all because she can’t live up to the outrageous standards that the media places on women in the world today.
These expectations apply not only to mothers, but to cougars as well. We, as women, are expected to uphold certain values–whether we want to fulfill them or not. Because cougars don’t necessarily follow the “traditional” family structure, or act as women are “supposed” to act, they are thus judged by society. Of course, more so in the past, the media has both helped and hurt cougars. By making it more socially acceptable through films such as The Graduate, or weekly guilty pleasures such as Desperate Housewives, cougars are seen as much more prevalent in today’s world. However the growing fear of could this happen to my family? creates an unnecessary sense of paranoia that we all could certainly do without.
As humans, we can expect to come face to face with the ugly head that competition often rears, far too often a time. When it comes to men, countless women spend countless dollars on books, tapes, seminars, on how to “play the game.” While our bank accounts are dwindling away and our sanity may subconsciously be doing the same, it’s not far fetched to think that we lose a bit of ourselves along the way. Where did the cool, confident, sharp bachelorette run off to once finding out her prince charming has an attractive, younger co-worker? She scampered away, in fear that competition will leave her man longing for some new arm-candy.
This seemingly unfair advantage is what gives cougars such a negative stereotype from the eyes of fellow females, as a result of fear. Fear of competition, fear of replacement, fear of the consuming jealousy that can so easily overtake a once right-minded individual.
Men, on the other hand, seem to think of cougars as anything but a threat. By rather seeing cougars as a challenge, they are thus digging their own grave for complete and total domination of the sharp and stringless jungle cat. The whole been-there-done-that way of the cougar is appealing to innumerable men considering their confidence is unmatched. These fearless felines know exactly what they want, and exactly how to get it. Sexually, economically, self-sufficiently, they’ve got it all on lock.
Societal trends make up for various other reasons that men find cougars so… irresistible. Dating choices have changed dramatically in recent years, as a result of feministic viewpoints and a stronger emphasis placed on self-sufficiency. The divorce rate in the United States for first marriages is 41%; for second marriages 60%; and for third marriages 73%. While in the 1950s, divorce rates remained fairly low at an average 14%. Since the gradual growth of divorce rates in the 1960s (an era of excessive change and broadening perspectives), divorce rates are at the highest that they have been in United States history.
Though not all is lost–in many cases divorce is a productive alternative to til-death-do-us-part, allowing both the once-husband, once-wife to grow separately and prosper in their own ways on their own terms. Since these women are now getting their feet wet back in the dating pool, they are thus more inclined to know what they like, what they don’t like, and be that much more appealing to the male specimen.
Additionally, women are looking for more than a prince charming to sweep them off their feet; especially once aware of the ugly truth that he might not be coming. Today, there is much more of an emphasis placed on companionship, travel, and fun rather than the be-all-end-all, his-and-her towels, commence-the-Corinthians partnership. The knowledge that comes hand in hand with years and experience is also an alluring factor for younger men toward older women, considering financially (along with other realms), they’ve been around the block. What it all boils down to is that whether you love them, hate them, or love to hate them, there’s no denying a cougar on her prowl.
Works Cited: “Older woman, younger man relationships” ; “Accomplishments of queen elizabeth i” ; “Dame elizabeth rosemond taylor” ; “The mommy wars” ; “Ask a cougar: Why do younger men like older women?” ; “Divorce rate”