National Women’s History month, a time for women to go inside themselves and know that they are much more than sex symbols.
I have to admit that I’m frequently behind the times when it comes to being in the know about contemporary meanings (applications) of words. Years ago, an obscene caller hung up on me because I hadn’t a clue about what he was saying to me. I kept asking, “A what? A what?” Clunk! The caller slammed down his phone. Someone in the room, who heard me repeat the word the caller used, explained to me what the word meant. I was a bit shocked, but then I laughed. This was certainly one time ignorance had fixed the caller’s wagon.
This brings me to the newfangled use of the word “cougar.” My old dictionary describes a cougar as “a large cat found in North and South America; also called mountain lion, panther or puma … a stalk-and-ambush predator that pursues a wide variety of prey.”
Much to my surprise and chagrin, I learned that the term “cougar” is now being used to describe older women who prey on younger men, and that there’s a reality TV series called “The Cougar,” in which older women choose a boyfriend from a group of younger men.
Oh, my gosh! What’s wrong with this picture, ladies? What about older men who prey on young women? Should they also be called cougars, since the real cougar animal (Puma concolor) can be male or female? Or is it that it’s so acceptable for older men to pursue young women that no one gives this behavior a second thought or thinks it warrants a special term?
I remember as a teenager that my hometown was abuzz when a man a few years older than a (penniless) widow’s adult son courted and married the widow. “It won’t last,” the good folks murmured (they wished).
The widow had not pursued this man, so she shouldn’t be called a cougar, right? And even though the man had pursued the widow, I hardly think he should be called a “boy-toy” (a word used to describe younger men pursuing older women).
The couple had two children together, and the marriage lasted until she died. Love (emotional investment) was not defined by age differences.
It’s one thing when the word cougar is used to brand women on a TV show, but it’s another when women in the real world apply this term to themselves just because they are involved in a May-December relationship in which the woman is older.
Get a grip on yourselves, dear ladies. Don’t accept labels that insult or demean you.