Posts Tagged ‘age’

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Okay, I’ll Say It: Cougar. Now can we get serious?

December 18, 2009

by Anne Alexander

This “cougar” word is not my favorite contemporary expression, but we seem to be stuck with it. New word, old concept. There have always been older women-younger men pairings. At least one society has specialized in age-mixing, and I can’t even remember what part of the world these folks inhabit, but all the young girls go to old men, and the old women make it with the young boys, teaching them a thing or two. Later, when a youth has earned some status and fortune, he can get a wife closer to his own age. Candidates are abundant, because eventually the old men die off and free up the younger women – who have by then grown to the approximate age of the upcoming men who have acquired enough of what it takes to be entitled to wives.

As if “cougaring” weren’t bad enough, a young man who fools around with an older woman is said to be “tadpoling.” A tadpole is, of course, a developing amphibian, not even a frog yet. My thoughts return to a place they don’t often visit, a certain night in the late 1960s. Tadpoling. Who knew?

Magazine surveys are notoriously unreliable, good for starting conversations and not much else. But in 2003, an article stated that 34% of women between ages 40 and 69, were dating younger men. Of course there are a lot of questions you want to ask. Like, how much younger, on average? Are we talking about Americans only? Or Americans and Canadians? Europeans? What?

In 2004, Match.com reported on attitudes toward a large age gap between partners. Apparently they used a 15-year difference as the definition of “large.” Anyway, they supposedly found more men who were willing to date a woman 15 years older, than women willing to date a man 15 years younger.

Naturally, someone arbitrarily made up a formula to determine the acceptable societal norm – the “half-your-age-plus-seven rule.” In other words, for a 30-year-old woman, 15 plus 7 is 22 – so your male friend should not be any younger. For a 50-year-old woman, the lowest acceptable male age would be 25 plus 7, or 32.  Of course, if two age-disparate people stay together for a long time, that would mess up the math. It’s all nonsense anyway. The person who invented this standard – who died and made him God?

When Ben Franklin was 39, he wrote a letter to a friend, offering advice about choosing a mistress: find an older woman. Franklin listed 8 reasons, which are briefly paraphrased here:
Intelligence and better conversation.
They treat you good, because they don’t have beauty to offer.
They don’t get pregnant.
They keep their mouth shut about your liaison.
Since they age from the top down, there’s no difference below the waist.
It’s less sinful than deflowering a virgin.
A young girl can be made miserable by your attentions, but an older woman will be made happy.
He winds up with “8th and lastly. They are so grateful!!!”

More recently, Franklin’s advice has been streamlined into the smart-ass slogan, “They don’t yell, they don’t tell, they don’t swell, and they’re grateful as hell.” Accompanied by a snigger.

Actually, it’s nothing to snigger about. Gratitude is always appropriate, on both sides, and at any age, whenever two people meet to express affection and/or exchange bodily fluids. I’m quoting a man on this – Orson Bean, who wrote about his own journey of liberation. He says a healthy man “is filled with tenderness and caring and concern for his partner at the height of the sex act… and afterwards the feeling is one of love and tenderness and deep gratitude.”

Making love with a compatible partner is something to be grateful for, always, each and every time. It’s a wonderful, positive, perfectly gorgeous thing to do. Or should be. And why on earth would a person ever want to share such an experience with a partner who is anything less than grateful – and gratified?

Just like any other kind of pairing, the main thing to consider is this. To find someone you really vibe with is so rare, it’s stupid to create artificial barriers of any kind.

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Cougar Quotations

December 18, 2009

The older man/younger woman dynamic reinforces patriarchal conventions; the older woman/younger man dynamic subverts them.
Hugo Schwyzer

It’s not exactly what you’d call a May-December romance. We’re more like summer and fall. His family would rather see him with some sweet young thing. But there is an important difference between me and the sweet young things: I know how special he is.
Robbie Campbell

“You know, if you were forty years younger…”
Glorianna O’Toole curled her upper lip disdainfully. “Don’t flatter yourself too far,” she said. “If I were forty years younger I wouldn’t look at a kid like you twice!”
Norman Spinrad in Little Heroes

I have finally figured out the rudiments of how to love somebody, too late. There are no men my age, and if there are, they want twenty-two-year-olds to bear their children. Will I ever be able to practice this loving?
Cynthia Heimel

I think men get a HUGE pass on this kind of stuff (just one pass of many that we dames don’t get)…go to a shopping mall, and see some young chick with a guy 20 years her senior, nobody bats an eye, but the reverse? The trouble is, nobody calls a guy a “dirty old man” unless he’s maybe 40 years older than the woman…or girl…With us, 10 years qualifies us as being cougars.
Angelina Orduno

My hubby is 14 years younger than I am….I just happen to enjoy still putting toys on layaway at KMart.
Debbie Shearer Aures

Anybody who wants to screw a sixty-three-year-old woman I wouldn’t wanna screw anyway! Okay? Because they have big problems.
Grace Slick

Women may eroticize youth and vigor in younger men, but they rarely are turned on by displays of ignorance or uncertainty; high-brow Western literature and low-brow pornography are filled with countless examples of men being aroused by much younger women who either “play dumb” — or are the genuine article.
Hugo Schwyzer

“Actually, he’s my boyfriend. My son is slightly older.”
(ad for anti-aging moisturizer treatment)

Most men grow up believing in sex as a favor they have been granted — sex as strategy or currency or power. Therefore, the act itself is full of threat. The older woman typically is indifferent to being dominated or getting something in return. …She is interested not in power but in pleasure.
Paul Theroux