Friday, October 16, 2009

Charlotte Allen on Cougars

Charlotte Allen reports on Cougarism for the Washington Times:

What Jezebel and the other feminists want is a positive spin on cougars as "in control" and "very sexy," in the words of Valerie Gibson, author of "The Cougar Handbook." Nearly all of them trot out the marriage of 46-year-old Demi Moore to 31-year-old Ashton Kutcher as a cougar success story that could be replicated endlessly.

There's only one problem with this rosy outlook on older woman/younger guy relationships, and it's, um, men.

The Boston Globe recently reported on a speed-dating organizer's efforts to set up events aimed specifically at women of a certain age and the 20-ish men who supposedly can't get enough of them. Plenty of older women signed up for the mixers, but so few younger men did that the organizer had to cancel the events.

Another speed-date organizer explained to the Globe that the only events that ensure a good male turnout are those that feature the traditional dating-age gap: women who are at least three years younger than the men they hope to meet. "We have actually tried to capitalize on the cougar trend, and it didn't really work for us," one organizer told the Globe.

Read the whole thing.


trumwill said...

The article states mostly obvious things, though I find the bit about the speed-dating services to be a bit of a surprise. Not so much that Cougar Nights don't work, but that they can't get men to show up unless there's a 3-year gap or more (in the other direction).

Not just because it runs contrary to my own preferences (within three years in either direction preferred), but because I didn't know that there was any sort of setup that special accommodations had to be set for enough men to show up. No surprise that they're not excited about showing up for women 20 years their senior, but a big surprised that "about your own age" is insufficient. I guess I'm used to the online dating world, where men vastly outnumber women.

trumwill said...

On further reflection, I wonder if the issue here is partly attributable to the age of the men willing to show up at these sorts of things at all. In other words, it's not so much that men demand three years or more of age difference but rather than when you look at the age of men that are a little more aggressive about finding a mate, you end up with an older sort of man. I know that I would be willing to try a lot more things if I were single now than I was when I was 23. Not that I necessarily would have been unwilling to go to a mixer sort of thing, but I wouldn't have been as inclined to seek them out.

I do remember hearing about various single mixers when I was young and living in Colosse. I remember associating them with "old people" (like, gasp, people the age than I am now!). If I'd known that there were girls there my age... it probably would have been less nail-biting than the online scene.

Kirt33 said...

Come off it. How can these people not realize that some younger men have a 'fetish' of sorts for older women* - and are therefore interested in sex with cougars as long as it's hot and short-term - but no younger men are interested in long-term relationships with older women? It all seems very simple to me. *shrug*

*Myself included. It's also worth pointing out that the fetish generally only extends to that very slim minority of women who still look good in their 40s. This would make the competition for those cougars who are actually still attractive stiff indeed, as far as I can see.

Anonymous said...

The reason why the cougar thing has become a focus is very simple: there are quite a few single women now who are 40+. The reasons for that are (1) some women delaying marriage so long (or being so selective) that they find themselves at 40 never having married and (2) the commonplace nature of divorce, which leaves many people single in that age range. The issue for some of these single women is that they perceive, or experience, that the men in their “age range” (say +/- 2-3 years) are either all taken, or pursuing younger women. Factually this is not the case, of course, but the reality is more like this: the most attractive single men in that age range are, often, going to prefer to date women in their early to mid 30s than women in their 40s. And the men who are interested in daying women in their 40s are mostly either (a) men in their late 40s and 50s or (b) less desirable men in their early 40s. So women feel like if they stay in their own “age range”, they don't have as many choices. That's really what's driving the desire of women to enter into these kinds of relationships – the simple reality of a lot of women in that age range being single today coupled with the reality that men do regularly date a bit down in age, if they can manage to attract younger women. It's a combination of demographics and sexual dynamics that are leading to this.

The issue for women in their 40s, though, is that very few men in their late 20s and early 30s are going to want to commit to a woman in her early to mid 40s. Sex is one thing. There is a time-honored tradition of young men having sex with experienced older women. Look at The Graduate. This idea is nothing new, and should be thoroughly unsurprising, given the strength of the male libido at that age, coupled with the relative increase in female libido in many women as they age through the mid 30s and 40s. The sexual aspect of these relationships is therefore, at least in the cases of women who are somewhat high-testosterone and high-libido in their 40s, understandable. But the men are not really looking for a long term committed relationship across that kind of age gap. With smaller age gaps, that can be different – say a 43 year old woman with a 38 year old man. But that isn't a “cougar” relationship, because the gap is not long enough. A true cougar relationship is with a guy who is at least 10 years younger – and these, as those of us who live in the real world know, are quite rare in the context of long term committed relationships, even if they are becoming more common in the playland of casual sexual relationships.

Of course, it doesn't help that there is a feminist “tinge” to the issue – women “getting back” at men for “chasing younger women” and “turning the tables” on men and so on. But what that overlooks is that men are generally much more successful at establishing long term committed relationships with younger women than women are in doing so with younger men. Getting sex is one thing – as we know, something that is never really challenging for an attractive woman, even if she is in her 40s. Getting a man to commit to a long-term relationship is something else entirely. And that's where the cougar phenomenon fails, really, to be more than a flash in the pan.

Anonymous said...

Uncommon truths: Women in their 40s equals dry menopausal vag, prolapsed anus and sagging uterus.