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Watch out boys, she’ll chew you up:

by Archives October 6, 2009 0 comment

Four half-naked hunks are drilling a hole outside a high school, when one of them stops and says: “It’s 2:30.”
“School’s out,” adds another construction worker. Two attractive female students in uniform walk out giggling and shaking their hair, but the workers don’t so much as glance at them. Then the teacher appears. Slowly, she removes her jacket and glasses and unties her hair. The four young men are in complete awe. One even wipes his forehead with his sandwich. Turning to them, she smiles and says: “boys, boys, it’s easy to date a woman like me.” The website cougarlife.com flashes before our eyes and the commercial is over.
The “teacher” is 38 year-old Claudia Opdenkelder, founder of the advertised online dating site specifically designed for older women, “cougars” looking to date younger men, or “cubs” as they’re known on the site. Winning a radio cougar contest in 2005 was the catalyst that drove Opdenkelder to launch the Toronto based site this past Valentine’s Day. She credits her website’s instant success to the fact it’s unlike the other, more escort-oriented cougar sites, and it simplifies the dating process by being age specific. But could it also be because more middle-aged women are starting to have relationships with young lads?
Certainly women dating younger men is not a new phenomenon: Mrs. Robinson, anyone? However, these relationships have been gaining a lot of media attention recently, bringing cougars into the mainstream and suggesting they’re on the rise. We can thank star-studded celebrity couples such as cougar idol, Demi Moore, and her handsome other half, Ashton Kutcher, as well as Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins and lately Madonna, with her 22-year-old arm candy, Jesus Luz. Furthermore, 2009 marked the first ever Cougar Convention in Palo Alto, California, where Gloria Navarro was bestowed with the title of Miss Cougar America.
Books like Hot Cougar Sex: Steamy Encounters with Younger Men, are readily available on Amazon.com, not to mention internet dating sites and a new International Cougar Cruise offered by Carnival Cruise Lines. Most recently we can thank ABC’s new show, Cougar Town, featuring a cleavage-bearing Courteney Cox running about in search of fresh meat.
But before any attempts can be made to understand the reasons behind this upsurge in all things cougar-related, we have to know what exactly a cougar is. The term itself is said to have originated in the locker-room of a Canadian boys high school hockey team in the ’90s. It later gained popularity with “The Cougar Den” talk-show sketches on Saturday Night Live. While the show portrays cougars as desperate old ladies with fake breasts and orange tans, Opdenkelder says this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“A cougar is a woman who’s 35 and over, who is successful, strong, independent, who has her own thing going on. She doesn’t need a man to take care of her and she knows what she wants and how to get it,” said Opdenkelder.
Nevertheless, the Netherlands-born entrepreneur admits the term sometimes carries a negative stigma.
“The old school way of thinking is it’s an older woman in her forties scouring the bars, hunting for young prey, but that’s just something some guys made up a long time ago,” said Opdenkelder.
Chantal Maillé, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies at Concordia University’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute, says calling women cougars is not necessarily derogatory.
“I’m not sure the term is so negative. Part of it might be, but at the same time there’s an association the animal has with power and beauty,” said Maillé. “It’s just a new image to portray women who have power, and who are sexually aggressive.”
According to Maillé, the sheer fact the label is getting so much attention shows dating younger men is becoming more common. If it was peripheral, it wouldn’t have received this much attention she said.
Now that we have an idea about why people are talking about cougars, we can try to answer the burning question: why are more women dating younger men? And no, “Demi Moore made it cool” is not the correct answer.
“The reason they date younger men is because they have that zest for life that they do. This youthful spirit and go get ’em kind of attitude,” said Opdenkelder. “There’s no drama and there’s no ego problems.”
Conversely, the men like to date older women because they’re fed up with the drama, game playing and immaturity often associated with dating someone their own age or younger, explains Opdenkelder.
She should know; she’s currently dating a man 14 years her junior, and says she’s always done so. Opdenkelder says it’s not something she actively seeks out to do – it just happens to match her lifestyle.
Maillé attributes the increase in these relationships to changes in women’s lives over the past few decades, and to women developing interests that differ from men their age or older.
“Now, older women, are still active in the labour force, you can see them at the gym, at bars and restaurants; whereas 40 years ago, if you were an older woman and you were single, you were staying home,” said Maillé. “They complain that men are not aging as well as they are. They don’t want to go out, they loose interest in life, but many women feel they are still full of energy.”
Maillé says we can expect to see this relationship pattern rise, as growing numbers of women continue to move up in the workplace. The reason being men over 40 are often intimidated by powerful women, whereas younger men typically aren’t.
“Often they’ve been raised by mothers who were working and who challenged these traditional values. Now, we have this younger generation of men who are much more open-minded than their fathers’ generation,” said Maillé.
Perhaps older men are at the helm of ABC, because the network refused to air Opdenkelder’s commercial in New York and Los Angeles, claiming they felt uncomfortable promoting older women dating younger men. This came as a shock to Opdenkelder since not only is the premise of ABC’s show, Cougar Town, exactly that, but she says the ad was created as a joint venture with the studio. The fiasco even reached Perez Hilton, prompting the celebrity blogger to accuse ABC of having a double standard. Competing networks have since picked up the commercial, and it’s airing in most cities where ABC is broadcast.
While older men may still be adjusting to this dating dynamic, how do young guys actually feel? After all, what’s a cougar without her cub?
To find out, I asked a 25-year-old McGill Management graduate who I spotted deep in conversation with a pack of cougars at a trendy Westmount eatery last week. He agreed to speak with me on the condition his name not be used. This cub told me he hasn’t personally been intimate with an older woman (although he’d like to), but that many of his friends have.
“All my friends who have slept with older women say it’s insane. They’ve told me these women can do things they didn’t think women could do. They have years of sexual experience on you,” he said.
He says the bragging rights increase if the older woman has children and is cheating on her husband with you. The mom connection is part of the fantasy he explains. Does Stifler’s mom in American Pie ring a bell?
“In locker-rooms when you’re sixteen you talk about MILFs (Moms I’d like to fuck) but then you’re 20, and suddenly these MILFs you dream about, would love to feel young again and want to sleep with you,” he said.
To conclude, a word of advice from our insider cub:
“Cougars always want you to guess how old they are, but there’s no right answer because you know they’re old. Don’t be scared, just remember to guess a number younger than their real age, but not too low so they don’t think you’re joking.”

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