The Cougar Threat

Color me unimpressed by Mark Penn's "microtrends" based on Marc Ambinder's writeup. Penn mostly seems to be playing his favorite sport of defining groups arbitrarily and then finding that if you slice up the population in random ways, you can get interesting-but-meaningless results. That said, this is funny:

Within the past ten years, the number of women who sought younger male boyfriends has quintupled. These are the "cougars," Penn writes.

I'm not sure I understand why they're cougars? Because it's an alternative to being a cat lady? Relatedly:

There are about 109 million straight women in America now compared to 98 million straight men; the gender ratio in the African American community is 56 to 44, female to male. The surplus of single women "are left out of the institution of marriage."

But how much of this is simply accounted for by the fact that men live longer than women [UPDATE: I mean, of course, that women live longer than men]? I'm not sure it makes sense to think of widows as "left out" of the institution of marriage.