Monday, November 16, 2009

#46 - Cougars

It was the decade when...

Women with hot-flashes were hot.

Meow. Prowling through the late Aughts was a whole new kind of kitty-cat, a feline with a little too much mascara and way too much lipstick. Une chat who specializes in French kissing - she's had years of practice! A pussy who doesn't so much smile as smirk lasciviously, worried that a full grin might expose her crow's feet. Meet Matronus Sexualis, aka, The Cougar.

The Cougar is that unmarried woman of a certain age (that age being middle), who, approaching the period when women no longer have them, the time when many who long ago traded sexual inhibition for estrogen replacement therapy, refuses to go gently into that good night and seeks out sexual conquests with all the desperation of Christopher Hitchens at last call. Big hair and cleavage are welcome. A duplicitous ex-husband who left the Mrs. for a much younger Miss is not unheard of. An external carapace of confidence hiding a wounded and lonely soul who, at middle age, finds herself unloved and alone is a must.

The appeal of The Cougar persona is a total contradiction. On one hand, The Cougar is a celebration of female sexuality: In a society where women are routinely de-sexualized in the movies and media the minute they turn 40 (as Goldie Hawn says in The First Wives Club, women in Hollywood have three ages, "Babe, District Attorney, and Driving Miss Daisy"), Cougars flip the bird and demand that we accept the reality that not only do women over 40 have a libido but that they can express it with whomever they want, including younger men. The Cougar is, in her way, a feminist trailblazer, a woman refusing to conform to the sexual role society prescribes to her. But the other paw tells a different story. It's the novelty of the cougar, the silliness of the idea, that made this new Archetype catch on. The Cougar fascinates because she is so improper. A middle aged business-man trolling for pussy is hardly news but a middle age woman hunting for cock is funny and unexpected and vaguely grotesque, a step away from midget sex. With Cougars, women are reduced to their sexual appeal and appetites, other facets of their identity regulated to the litter-box.

The Cougar phenomenon has been lampooned on Saturday Night Live, chronicled and dissected in the pages of magazines, and most recently inspired its own sitcom starring Courtney Cox. It's all Cougar, all the time. If the media were an accurate guide to reality, it would appear that the USA is overflowing with Mrs. Robinsons, out to ensnare the young men of America in their leathery claws. The truth is that The Cougar is a fictional creation, a marketing device to appeal to middle aged women and easily titillated men. But, in the great feedback loop that is modern mass media, the illusion has become a reality, the existence of the Cougar archetype inspiring older women to express their sexuality more openly and shamelessly then they have in the past. So despite the yin and yang sides of The Cougar as a social phenomena, it remains true that the empowerment granted a woman when she owns her Cougardom is a positive change for both the individual involved and America in general. Cougars not only travel in a pride, they have reason to feel some as well.

You AUGHT to remember...

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