Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why I'm not a girl, not yet a cougar

We were out for fancy drinks for a friend's birthday last weekend, when suddenly, we spotted them. If you live in a college town, or have ever set foot in one on a Saturday night, you've seen them, too--undergrads in tight tops, bare legs, and the shortest skirts imaginable, teetering drunkenly in towering heels, even as the snow falls gently all around. I shivered looking at them. My eyes drifted for a second to my own hemline. Though I had convinced myself that by wearing boots and thick, winter-weight tights under my short and clingy dress, I wouldn't be committing any crimes of decency or of fashion, it never hurt to get a second opinion. I caught my friend Eric's eye. "Is my skirt too short?" I whispered to him across the table. And that's when he said it. The c-word.


And so, I did what any confident, well-adjusted thirty-year-old would have done: I screamed obscenities at him (confusing and slightly terrifying all those around who had not been following the conversation), grabbed my purse, and stalked off indignantly. (To the bathroom. I find it convenient to combine my moral outrage with calls of nature. Two birds with one stone, and all that.)

Arriving back at the table I picked up my drink and carefully avoided eye contact with Eric. A while later, when he dared address me, "You're on thin ice," I warned him. 

"Why?" asked the guy next to me. "What happened?" And so I told him.

"You can't be a cougar," replied a guy from the other end of the table, overhearing. "You have to be thirty-five to be a cougar."

"Wait, really?" someone asked.

"Yup," he replied with conviction. "Thirty-five is the cut-off. Thirty-four, you're not a cougar, thirty-six, you are." All this in his social studies teacher voice, as if he had just this minute finished reading up on the behavior and mating habits of the modern American city-dwelling cougar. 

"But it also implies someone who is actively pursuing younger men," someone mentioned.

"It has to do with success rate, as well," Eric said. 

"Well in that case I am definitely not a cougar," I said.

"So what about a woman in her fifties? Is she still a cougar?"

"No, then she's a MILF."

"No, she's only a MILF if she has kids."

"Not necessarily..."

"Yes, necessarily! It's in the name. Mom I'd like to--"

"Ok, now, fancy restaurant."

"But sometimes you don't know if she has kids."

"If she's married and over the age of forty you can assume she has kids."

"That is not true! You can't just assume that."

"Well, most of the time."

"No, having kids is not the default mode for women. You can't just automatically assume that all women over the age of forty have kids."

"So who would you rather hook up with?" one of the guys asked. "A cougar or a MILF?"

"MILF, definitely."

"I don't know..."

We left the restaurant that evening no closer to any answers in the great Cougar vs. MILF debate. All I knew was that there are cougars, and there are MILFs, and happily, I was not either. I had learned, however, that in the interest of preserving one's own sanity and any shred of perceived youth one might still possess, twenty-nine-and-twenty-three-month-year-olds should probably not fraternize with twenty-five-year-olds. 

All this cougar/MILF talk had got me thinking, though... If it really came down to it, what would a cougar vs. MILF showdown look like? I'm thinking it would probably look something like this:


  1. I've always heard the Cougar cut off was 40. Ages 30 to 39 are "Pumas".

  2. "But it also implies someone who is actively pursuing younger men,"

    All those names ONLY APPLY when the above is taking place.

    Why can't women of any age just be women. Why do men and people feel the need to put an additional label on us. Weird little fantasy they are having?

    I'm 39 this year and far from a cougar. I dress appropriate for my age and weight and I do not chase younger men for compliments that I still "have it". If younger men find me attractive, great, but that does not make me a cougar.

    The women you descrubed above are cougars for sure. They are stalking younger men like prey, something to play with and then toss away like scraps.

    Any men reading this, if you want to get laid by the women you are sitting with, never call her a cougar or any other name other than lady.

    Sorry this gets me riled up.
    I find it slightly degrating for men to think they can speak of women like animals of sport. Not much gets me truly riled up, but this does. Shit you could call me worse names and I'll be fine... Call me a cougar and I might just tear your head off for fun. ;-)

  3. Did you really scream obscenities at him? This takes me back to that "prickly" assessment a while back. Just a little surprised...

  4. I am over 40 and have zero interest in a 25 year old. Call me "Not a Cougar". I like men, not boys.

    Also I am wearing a mini dress to work today. With leggings. So there.

  5. At the risk of sounding prickly, Anonymous, if you don't have anything non-judgmental to say, then don't say anything at all.

  6. I could teach a class on this shit but what's the fucking point? to be a MILF, you can be any age but there is that requirement that you have a child, hence the title, who gives a shit, and didn't all this cougar bullshit start with Sex and the City and i don't know to many men who watched that show so as far as the labels go the girls should look in the mirror and realize like black on black crime this is woman on woman stereo-typing, but i'm just some stoopid guy so i'll stfu now.

  7. Wow, I have major dork issues with that picture.

    First of all, AVP, awesome. Second of all, the Alien should be the MILF and the Predator should be the Cougar. Duh.

    Also, I nightmare of one day being a successful cougar.

  8. AND! I have no problem with cougars. We make fun of men for their mid-life crisis-es, we publicly display our disgust for older men that unsuccessfully target their affections at young women, except instead of giving them a fun name we just call them "creepy fucking old guys." Cougar is nearly flattering in comparison, why? Because cougars are fucking cool.


  9. In fact, I would go as far as to say I RESPECT cougars. You have that much confidence in yourself? You think you're Barbara Hershey? Good for you. Barbara Hershey is gorgeous and Naveen Andrews is sexy as hell - she worked it.

  10. That picture Cougar vs. MILF is amazing. My French husband just walked by and saw it, and I had to explain wtf is going on it in.

    And I think this whole "cougar/puma" labelling system is so North American. You don't hear about it at all in France (and I suspect in Europe). I've never heard someone be called a "cougar" but I HAVE heard something like "women are like fine wine, they get better with age"...or maybe they were talking about men getting better with age. I blame the language barrier.

  11. did these people forget what milf stands for? mom i'd like to fuck. a milf must be 1) a mom, and 2) someone whichever dude is talking thinks is hot. she doesn't have to be old and she doesn't have to like younger guys.

    a cougar is a older lady (i always thought forty and up) who pursues dudes in his twenties. she's not necessarily attractive.

    i mean milf and cougar need not overlap at all.

  12. I am 52, a mother of 3 grown sons and I have been called MLF and a Cougar. I am still married and not on the hunt but...I do still like to look at those handsome young men when I'm out with the girls. I do not find it an insult, but rather a compliment!