Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Limitations of the Cougar Stereotype

No one wants to be defined by a stereotype alone. A stereotype by nature categorizes a person or thing, discouraging inquiry, or any inclination to probe the superficial. That said, many of us allow ourselves to be stereotyped for reasons of personal empowerment, as many women have done in identifying themselves as “cougars”. Part of me gets this. Perhaps you’ve spent half of your life being subservient to a man you lost respect for, then finally got up the courage to leave. Perhaps you felt powerless sexually for a long time, taught to believe you had no sway or no say; that you ought to consider yourself lucky for finding a decent man – as if you had nothing to do with it. Then you get older, you wake up, and discover an entire world out there of men who adore you for your experience and smarts. You start getting bolder in how you dress; you feel on top of the world, visible for the first time in decades. You are a cougar. You can choose to sleep with anyone you want. I get it.

The problem with identifying with a predatory animal is its benefits are, most of the time, short lived. It’s fun for a ride, but the sexuality of a predator is fairly one-dimensional. You start to get tired of the tight skirts and the high heels or the pressure to look younger than your years, and you yearn to just be yourself, or at the very least, explore the other dimensions of your nature openly. You realize that you can’t keep doing this forever, and at some point you are going to have to face the inevitability of death, and that the quality of your life depends on your ability to embrace it.

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I think there is something to be said for being pursued, rather than having to be the one in pursuit. Older women possess a grace and a beauty that runs much deeper than that of a “cougar”, and regardless of what the media, film and television industries would have us believe, there are many men out there who’ve known this for centuries. Whatever you’ve got, own it. Find and keep company with women who believe life over 50 spells the best years of your life – and don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. Because the alternative is never really living at all.


Jhanna Dawson said...

Bravo, Jesse!! And, really, isn't being the stereotypical cougar still being subservient to men because they are still having to 'dress the part', like you said?

We really aren't free of stereotypes until we can actually find our own personal style and have the courage to live it for US, not for ANYone else.

It can be difficult and most women never find that beauty, because once that courage is found it's like a flower blooming in the warm spring sun. The depths of our beauty comes forth and THAT is when people really start to take notice. :)

With Gratitude,


Anonymous said...

Great post! I couldn't agree more. I am married to a man 10 years my junior, but the idea that I am a predator because of my relationship is ridiculous.

I also find the fact that a woman is defined by the man she dates derogatory.

If people wish to call me a cougar, then there isn't much I can do about it - but it doesn't mean to say I'm going to listen either!


amy said...

thank you thank you.
amy ferris

Jesse Mendes said...

I take all your comments to heart. Much gratitude,