Cougar, Before Cougar Was Cool
A couple of years ago, I wrote a member contribution article for MORE Magazine: Multiculturalism And The Cougar Please don’t be impressed–you shouldn’t be. Anyone who signs up with MORE online as a member can write and submit articles for their online site, so trust me, I’m nothing special there. In the article, I offer my own observations and theories about the so called “Cougar” trend, completely invalid scientifically, as always. I was taking a course in multiculturalism at the time and it occurred to me that while there seemed to be an uptick in middle aged women dating young men that was getting a lot of attention, this particular phenomenon always seemed to be characterized by said middle aged romantic partner looking/acting/being anything but what she really was–a 40+ female. This is a reality which is in direct opposition to the concept of multiculturalism, in which differences are embraced, even emphasized, and thought of as equally desirable to the former ideal. I do this a lot actually when I’m taking a class–when immersed in a lot of hard facts and academic research, I whimsically apply what I’ve learned to pop culture, probably to stave off boredom and narcolepsy during class. This was especially puzzling, albeit entertaining to my decidedly left brained Armenian astrophysicist professor when I took Astronomy during my undergrad adventures. Needless to say, I didn’t take a lot of hard science in school–only what I had to have to graduate.
At any rate, I thought I was onto something then, and today, with the tabloid and social media rumor mill working overtime to cover a possible Demi Moore/Ashton Kutcher split due to his alleged serial cheating with young college aged women, the buzzers are going off again. Now, first of all, who knows if there is truth to this story or not? Nobody, that’s who. None of us knows what really goes on in relationships outside our own, and that goes double for celebrity gossip that is often spun up by tabloid “journalists” on slow days, or even the stars’ own publicists when increased attention is needed to promote this or that new project. This could certainly be the case here, as both halves of this May/December couple have something new to promote right about now. But, that’s not the point. The point is that, given the nature of the Cougar trend, this is a very plausible outcome…
It’s my opinion that in the vast majority of relationships, the Cougar/Cub (god help me) thing is simply not built to last. Certainly, “women of a certain age” can be very attractive, even to much younger men. Why wouldn’t they be? Women who take care of their appearance can be beautiful at any age. And here I’ll insert a very Kelso-esque exclamation–DUH! But, it’s my feeling that a fleeting (and flattering) sexual attraction does not a lasting relationship make. Those natural, healthy differences between people with 15 or more years difference in their ages will always come back to bite them in that body part that you can bounce a quarter off of–in the case of Ashton’s 23 year old alleged girlfriends, that is. This is particularly true when the younger man, as in Kutcher’s case, doesn’t even act his own age (33), instead his public behaviors resemble that of his former television character, Michael Kelso, a high school student who was none too bright to boot. I’m just a couple of years shy of Demi Moore’s age. She’s 48 and I’m 46, and he strikes me as really immature, perpetually partying, punking people sophomoric-ally….cheating or not, living with him and being his wife would get on my nerves pretty quick.
For the past several years, I’ve seen a lot of media that holds this twosome up as some sort of golden couple…a shining example of how and why the Cougar trend is here to stay, and something that middle aged women should aspire to. But, in reality, what I see is that it doesn’t really work as well as they’d like to believe it does. As I covered in my piece for More.com, the only way it works to begin with is if the older female half of the equation spends an indefinite amount of time and energy on convincing herself, and everyone else, that she’s something she’s not. Can a 40+ year old woman be attractive…”hot” even? That goes without saying. Can a 40+ year old woman be happy in a relationship with a man many years her junior, long term? The answer is maybe, but I rather doubt it. And it’s for those reasons I mentioned in the article–an atmosphere of multiculturalism is not yet present when it comes to middle aged women. Meaning those of us willing to admit that we are 40+ in every way, including all the inevitable changes in our looks, our personalities, child-bearing inclinations and capabilities, our entertainment and lifestyle preferences, etc.
Cartoon by Jeff Berry, http://berrystudio.blogspot.com/
The reality is that people do change as they age. A 23 year old woman isn’t really the same as a 43 year old woman, just like a 43 year old woman isn’t the same as a 63 year old woman. And despite what popular media would have us all believe, it really is a rare romantic relationship with a multi year age difference that will work long term without the older woman exhaustively working to be 40+, but look and behave only 18+. And that’s sad, for all concerned. Over the last couple of years especially, I’ve watched Demi Moore age, yet frantically diet and exercise to the point of being thinner than she ought to be, constantly tweet sexy photos of herself, and in general try to project an image that she naturally exuded as a 23 year old–when she was 23. And what it looks like to me is part of an overall futile, and I believe completely unnecessary campaign to hang on to that infamous Cougar/Cub relationship of hers. Not to say that these two don’t have a deep affection for one another, which they may genuinely share.
This makes me sad because I think Demi Moore is better than this. We all are. I hope that she sees herself as she really is, and lets her middle age flag fly in all its glory. That would serve as a true inspiration to women our age, I think, rather than the phony, fleeting one that has been served up to all of us for the past few years, in order to keep up the Cougar image. What I’d like to see is all of us being who we really are, in that true spirit of multiculturalism I talked about. Then, if intergenerational love happens, it happens…and it’d be real for a change….maybe it would even last, who knows? But, my gut tells me that it would be the beginning of the end of the Cougar Trend…a trend that would probably fade away on its own for the most part, having run its course. With a few exceptions that fall into the “you don’t choose who you love” category, I think we’d see a better trend…one that is characterized by women coming into their own, no matter what age they are, and going out there and getting everything they truly deserve, romantically and otherwise, with men who are their equals and are mature enough to appreciate authenticity.
Trading the Cougar Trend for an Authenticity Trend…hmmm….that’s a trend I could promote!