Cougars, Mustangs and Labels
Cougars are in the headlines. People talk about them, Cougar Town has hit our television screens, there are even Cougar Pride meetings…seriously. I saw a report on one on the news. Big meeting—lots of well-presented older women eyeing off the suspiciously gorgeous male wait staff. I think it was a set up, but who knows?
Just the other day I found myself in traffic reading the Cougar and Proud of It bumper sticker on the car in front of me. I’m still not sure whether I am more shocked or impressed by the fact that the woman driving the car had to be at least eighty years old. All you seventy year old guys out there watch out!
Cougars seem to be the next big thing, and yet, the whole idea has me worried. Not the older woman younger male thing, I wrote a book, Use by Date, about that and I loved doing it, it’s the label that has me bothered. Cougars are vicious, they bite and to me the term is just another example of the double standard.
I’m not sure why we need a term at all. What is the word for a man who wants a younger woman? Umm…I think the word we are looking for is man. No additions, no changes, just man. You might come up with something like sugar daddy but that’s a different scenario, isn’t it?
Do men bother with labels or expectations when they set out to attract a woman a few years younger than themselves? I don’t think so. They certainly don’t go to any great pains to tart themselves up. A shower and a shave seems to be the limit of it. Yet a woman who wants to attract a younger man has to ensure that she doesn’t look even close to her age. Look at Courtney Cox, who is pretending to be looking for a younger man; and Madonna and Demi Moore who have found one. The effort that must go into being so perfectly groomed, so immaculate and so self-consciously sexually enticing makes me tired just thinking about it.
Instead of cougars, perhaps women would be better referred to as Mustangs. You know, the classic American sports car? Doesn’t matter how old the model is, the Mustang is the kind of machine that makes men’s jaws drop open as she zooms past. In fact some enthusiasts would swear a bit of age adds to the value. A sixties model has still got power under the hood, and classic lines. The exterior paintwork needs to be cut and polished regularly, the interior needs to be waxed and it is certainly better if she can be garaged out of the sun, but it is and always will be an object of desire. A classic Mustang never pretends to be something it’s not.
A Mustang makes demands of the driver. She needs someone with experience and skill to handle her high performance qualities, someone who will appreciate the unique characteristics that makes a classic car what it is.
Mustang would be a label with positive connotations, not one that sounds mean and feral.
No, forget that, I don’t want to be labeled at all. I want to be free to be who I am, as eccentric, as individual and as unpredictable as you and everyone else who lives on this planet of ours. Save the labels for things that need them.
Helen Ravell lives on the East Coast of Australia with her husband and two children, overlooking Lake Macquarie and the ocean. A keen sailor , her love of the water is a constant source of inspiration as long as she can drag her eyes away from the view and back to her computer. She reads as much as she can between bouts of writing, and her long term goal is to find the perfect diet...not one that lets her lose weight...but one that will let her lose twenty years. http://www.helenravell.com