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April 27, 2010

"Cougar": a term that's offensive, empowering or a fact of Walnut Creek's nightlife scene

"Any cougars prowling around?"


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. 

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

North American cougars are threaten to be extinct due to humans disregard for wildlife and nature. What cute derogatory word for women will replace the term after they are gone?

Anonymous said...

Welcome to 1515!

Up3rd (and occasionally Chris Hendricks) said...

9:47... I heard it was Bing Crosby's from a 'cougar-aged' friend who frequents the place. My bride and I sat outside at Stanford's one night having dinner and laughing at the stream of traffic going inside Bing's-- given that limited sample, I think my friend is correct at proclaiming the place "Cougar Central."

Anonymous said...

You can call'em whatever you like. My sugarmommy takes care of me!!

Anonymous said...

Bings was a couple of years ago... definitely 1515 now.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I, too heard it was Bing Crosby's from a friend who is interested in meeting some Cougars...

Anonymous said...

OK,Soccer Mom, what I prefer is real cougars (or Mt. Lions). Wish I could get a photo like the one at the top of your post!

Anonymous said...

Yes it's offensive. But just as offensive is stating that these women hanging out at bars downtown are from Walnut Creek.

I seriously doubt that to be the case. Women I know in Walnut Creek are raising kids, working (at least part time), and otherwise too busy and tired for such garbage.

My guess is that 90% of these pathetic females hale from Blackhawk or Lafayette.

Anonymous said...

Blackhawk or Lafayette cougers? hahah.. let's just classify the ladies as Diablo Valley Cougers. And yes, they are out at Bings, 1515... WPLJ.. but who goes there?!

Anonymous said...

WC is a hotspot for cougars for sure. I take two or three home a week minimum (usually thursday, Friday, Saturday kind of thing). It has now become a game for me and my buddies to see which one of us can complete the two pumas in one night action first. I thought I was going to win last Saturday but then one cougar got scared off.

1515 is the hotspot, its like shooting fish in a barrell.

Anonymous said...

I have had two happy relationships with younger men, one 18 years younger than me, the other 9 years younger... each lasting over a year. We were attracted to the person. I was not prowling for a younger man, just open to meeting a good person. I am still friends with both of them. I see Demi Moore and Susan Sarandon much the same way. They are not cougars - which is a cheap word for cheap women who are looking for a quick thrill. Just one more way of objectifying women and making life seem a little more sordid.

Anonymous said...

I think cougars are kind of sad. Even Demi Moore. It seems like Ashton would have more to talk about with her daughters than with her.

The cougars I know are women who don't want to grow up...they are trying to cling to their lost youth.

Anonymous said...

young studs. where are they?

every woman's fantasy.

(no offense to beer swilling fat cats reading Playboy.)

Anonymous said...

Nothing like making a cougar roar. Sure maybe you don't want to be seen in public with her, at least not outside of the regular cougar hotspots, but wow can they put on a show.

Elizabeth said...

By the way "Cougar Town" is really funny! I think there was only one episode where the main character went out with a younger man. The show is really miss titled. I just read not too long ago, that they may change the name of the show. There is really no cougar theme at all to this show. Seems a lot like Friends, turning 40 something more than anything.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:21 I sure hope you feel the same about let's say Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones for example?

Anonymous said...

At 50 with lots of convincing from my daughter I changed my natural black hair to blond. I was so surprise that I actually look good and everybody thinks so except on person. My coworkers commented that I have cougar hair now. I don’t care about his opinion and likes anyway it is none of his business to comment, but is in it a rude comment. I am a professional, happily married mother of two adult kids that would like to look my best. Is that a crime and reason for jerks like him to call me something that I am not.