Heh, Troy Patterson and Rebbecca Traister look at the new, unprecedented, never before witnessed phenomena of 40 year old women bagging 20 year old dudes. Evidently there's not just a reality show about this on TV, there's actually a sitcom coming out which will explain to us why "The Graduate" never got made. Meh. Here's Traister on the show:
So because the men her age have a ticking clock and she no longer does, she tries to fulfill her romantic dreams by moving in with 20 men under 30, the kinds of guys "who can keep up" with her. Evidence that they can "keep up" begins with their arrival on some kind of frat party bus, where they are shown swigging beers and saying things like, "I can't wait to meet this cougar!" and "I really hope this cougar likes lamb, cause I'm nice and sweet and tender." Ah, liberation! Sweet, hot congress with dudes you were so glad you never had to deal with again after graduation! Mee-ow.
Is it possible that Stacey -- and all the other women who embrace the term "cougar" -- don't know that, on some level, they're being laughed at?
Original "Cougar" author Valerie Gibson has claimed that the term was coined as derogatory (no shit!), in reference to older women who went out drinking and went home with whatever guys were left at the end of the night -- like the weakest members of the pack, see? And even though women are making extravagant efforts to reclaim it as empowering, it remains offensive and dehumanizing on almost every level, as "Daily Show" senior women's issues commentator Kristin Schaal illustrated in a piece in which she had an animal handler carry a grown woman to the news desk, Jack Hanna style, so that Jon Stewart could examine her up close: "Do you want to hold her, Jon?"
Slow down Rebecca, you're killing em.They aren't laughing at her because she's enjoyed the company of young dudes--they're laughing at her because she's called a cougar. Much as I would, now, laugh at any dude who, with no sense of irony, referred to himself as a "sugardaddy."
Look, people come together in all kinds of ways, for all kinds of reasons. I'm a huge believer that the human race's survival depends on this fact. If you're 20 and you fall for someone older than you, it's all love. If you're 40 and you fall in love with someone who's 20, it's mo' love. If you just have a friend with benefits who's half--or twice--your age, it may not be love, but it hopefully it's peach pie. But all of that said, don't let them turn you into a name, into a marketing ploy.
On another note, a lot of this reminds me of the 70s, and blaxploitation's odd obsession with white women. There was this whole line of Cleaveresque Black Power logic that argued that it was somehow empowering to mimic one of the more repulsive relics of White Power--the sexual subjugation of black women. This isn't a perfect parallel, I know. But there is that kind of, "Well, if my ex-husband can be lecherous, so can I."
The obvious backdrop is a long history of men engaging whatever fantasy suits them, and then standing in judgement of women's sexual predilictions. That's a nasty problem. But I don't think embracing a sexuality, which much be animalized in order to be accepted, helps much.