I read the words over and over again, almost laughing out loud like they were a punch-line from one of my favourite comedy shows: “I’ve played the numbers game in my head. If I’m 23 and he’s 19, when I was in kindergarten he was . . . zero.”
I was reading an article that had run in the humour section of the Martlet’s 2012 Valentine’s edition, called “A New Breed of Cougar.” It was a personal essay, so to speak, of how a 23-year-old woman seduced a 19-year-old man. The persona openly admitted that she didn’t fit the stereotypical Mrs. Robinson view of a cougar, but she felt that she was part of a new breed of cougars on the horizon.
Although the definition of a cougar is broadly interpreted, there seems to be a bit of a minimum standard set by society. A cougar is typically a woman who is in mid-life, with 35 as the starting age. What makes her a cougar is the fact that she dates partners at least 10 years her junior, who may even appear young enough to be her son. More importantly, women who fit under the cougar umbrella are not typically labelling themselves as a cougar. To them, they are just dating people who they find desirable and fun to spend time with.
While reading the humour story, I wasn’t at all offended by the character considering herself a cougar simply because she slept with a man young enough to be her brother, though typically, modern cougars sleep with partners young enough to be their sons. I was completely flattered that she saw being a cougar as a positive thing; something empowering, where she is in control of her own life and doesn’t have to apologize for what she wants.
Some young men seem to have the idea that older women and younger women are rivals, but it’s simply not true. Cougars are in different stages of life and they are often looking for the opposite qualities in their mates and conquests. Before mid-life, many young people are looking for someone to fall in love and build a future with. The cougar has usually already done this, and is usually financially and emotionally independent. They are looking for someone to break out of the box and tear up the city with! The cougars aren’t jealous of the next generation, as they have spent a decade of their own in their twenties and are well aware of what it’s like. Although for the most part it was a fun time, many of them would never go back there even if they could. Hindsight is funny that way.
To all the young people who refer to themselves as cougars, I simply say, what’s the rush, young cub? Don’t worry, you’ll get there—it’s a guaranteed thing. For now, worry less about labelling yourself and just enjoy being young and dating in your peer group, because when someone in their 20s dates someone who is 19, that’s exactly what they’re doing.