That was a question a reader posted on my story about all the crowds out in downtown Walnut Creek this weekend for the Pacific Fine Arts Festival.
Another reader suggested that I have trolls, apparently because of this cougar comment, and this second reader seemed to take offense at the word "cougar." You know, of course, that "cougar" in this context is not referring to the species of mountain lions that are native to North America.
We're talking about the popular culture term that refers to women of a certain age who like to date younger men.
I once used the term "cougar" in a post, and several female readers complained. Meanwhile, I still have one or two readers who like to post joking comments about the "cougars" of Walnut Creek--women who apparently hang out at downtown clubs in search of younger men to date, marry, or just to bed. A work friend, a man in his twenties, was recently complaining about a certain night spot being "cougar central." This friend has a girlfriend so he's not interested in cougars, or in getting hooked up with anyone else, for that matter.
As I write this, some questions come to mind. First, is Walnut Creek prime hunting ground for such women? If so, which night spots do these gals like to hit?
And, do you find the term "cougar" offensive. Do you also find it offensive our tendency to deride women for going after younger men?
Are you a cougar? Are you proud of it? Some women are, as I learned reading the website, The Real Cougar Woman, founded by Linda Franklin, a former Wall Street investment banker who is now going on shows like The View proclaiming the power of cougars.
"I know many women think that a cougar is a derogatory word," Franklin writes....
Indeed, one definition of "cougar" in the Urban Dictionary is of a woman who is "an overly surgically altered wind tunnel victim. ... a milf." But as the Urban Dictionary also notes, "Cougars are gaining in popularity -- particularly the true hotties -- as young men find not only a sexual high, but many times a chick with her s--- together."
Gaining in popularity? Well, there are Demi (with Ashton), Susan Sarandon (when she hooked up with Tim Robbins), and Madonna and all her boytoys. There is also the new ABC show Cougar Town starring Courtney Cox. Haven't seen it. Looks kind of silly.
Back to Franklin, who creates a broader, more empowering, beyond-sex definition of cougars. In praise of her cougardom and of all her cougar gal pals, she writes:
"This fabulous female is changing the role of women today and will continue to do so for many years to come.
"Achieving the rank of Real Cougar is a privilege, never an embarrassment. You have worked hard to earn your stripes, so be proud to revel in your accomplishments. For far too long, women over 40 have been pushed to the sidelines. You are mothers, business executives, entrepreneurs and teachers. You are a million things, but not the complete woman you have always wanted to be. Now is the time to change all that.
"Every woman has a Real Cougar inside just waiting to be released—a woman who is strong, confident, independent, sexy and proud to be past 40."
I am woman. Hear me roar.
Interesting. For the record, I am not a cougar. I'm happily married, so I'm not interested in prowling for any action on the side. Also, as much as I like and appreciate younger men--as colleagues and friends--I would never want to date any of them--if I were available. The stages of life experiences are just too different. I'll stick with my own age.