The Thrill Of Cougar-ism: Why It's A Woman's Right

by Reanne Derkson

The cougar is a predatory animal of a territorial class found in every major American habitat.  Although fatal attacks on humans are rare, they’ve been trending upwards in occurrence.  Hunting methods typically follow the “stalk and ambush” technique; however, if the cougar is lucky, its prey will walk right into its pawed grip.

In Generation-Y dating culture, the cougar takes on similar meaning: a woman who “preys” on men years younger than her. The cougar, in this case, is me.

Fed up with my usual dating scene, I recently decided it was time for something new, someone fresh… someone born in the 90s. Under the influence of a double shot of hormones on the rocks, it didn’t take long for cougar vision to kick in.

I knew he was younger than me. It wasn’t just that his face looked as though it had never before seen a razor. He still had this soft lisp where he slipped on the sound of an ‘S’ simply because he was too excited to slow down and say words like “ssslopes,” “ssshots” and “sssex,” in a more eloquent manner.  For a characteristic I’d have picked out as a flaw in an older man, I found in him charming. That, and his hair — curly, chestnut locks tousled around his face only to be continuously brushed out of his eyes by his rough boy-hands.

But they didn’t feel like boy-hands later that night.

After an evening of flirting and enough lemon-drop shots (yes, he was legal) to make one forget about basic things, like age, I refused his invitation for a sleepover at his parents’ house and instead brought him home with me.

Where did the name “cougar” for an older woman dating younger men come from, anyway?  Maybe it’s because mature women often wear feline prints and furs (I, myself love a cute kitty print). But based on the associated verbs, like hunt, prowl and pounce, the most obvious derivation of the term is the adaptable species of cat that is the cougar.

As a mid-twenty-something, I don’t exactly meet the mid-life criteria for a true cougar; though, I have swapped spit with a teenager. A five-year age gap in your 20s doesn’t seem much in the big picture, but it’s comparable to a ten-year gap in your 30s, or a 15-year gap in your 40s. Maybe that makes me a new breed of cougar? Or perhaps just a “wildcat,” if you will.

A famous case of cougar-ism is that of Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. During their seven-year marriage, the duo conquered a 16-year age gap that created controversy in Hollywood.

 Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

I, too, know what it’s like to wake up to a younger man who smells of Axe and sweat. I’ve had to one-eye his arm strewn across my tummy and debate how I might move it without waking him, all the while wondering if he’ll need a ride home. I’ve played the numbers game in my head. If I’m 23 and he’s 19 (recently), when I was in kindergarten, he was …zero.

What would Demi do?

Is this what some consider “robbing the cradle?”

I get the appeal of toy-boy affairs. Statistics show that almost one-third of American women between 40 and 69 are dating men ten or more years their junior. Some argue that the trend is leveling the playing field.

Why are we so constricted to societal ideals dictating the appropriate age difference between a man and woman?  Why is it more acceptable for a man to date younger, and not vice versa? I say it’s not.  As our modern woman continues to emerge, let’s make way for the wildcat to roam freely through our campus habitats, never shying away from the fresh meat appeal of a freshman.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to wake up in a room that reminds me of my younger brother’s. I’ll see the hockey memorabilia decorating the walls, the evidence of an experimental chewing tobacco habit on his dresser along with three empty cups, an open laptop on his bed playing EDM and a pair of blue briefs crumpled in the far corner. But when my cub closes the door behind him and takes off his shirt, I’ll remind myself that age is just a number. And I’ll pounce.

Top Photo Courtesy: Tumblr