Recently at a wedding of my parent’s friend’s kid, I happened to overhear a conversation occurring at a table next to mine. The women were commenting on how the bride is apparently 3-4 years older to the groom and that is why the wedding was done in such a rush.
Their words made me pause and think, why the fascination over a woman’s age? Why is it not normal for a slightly older woman to get together with a younger man without society thinking a million bad things about the woman?
And why exactly does the word ‘cougar’ have such a bad connotation to it?
When Did The Term ‘Cougar’ Originate?
The origin date of the term ‘cougar’ is not known, sources do say that it apparently came from the Canadian region, perhaps Vancouver, British Columbia as a way to look down on older women who had a healthy sex life and would leave a bar with whoever was the last person left there.
Earlier applied mostly to women over the age of 50 who would have relations, sexual or otherwise, with men around the age of 20 or 30, the term has now started to be applied to even women who are 5 or 7 years older to the man.
While the term might be relatively new, the concept is definitely not, dating back to ancient times with many famous women having had relations with younger men. Elizabeth 1, Cleopatra, George Eliot (author) and even Anne Hathaway (Shakespeare’s wife who was 8 years older to him) all had relationships with younger men.
Why Is Cougar Always Taken With A Negative Connotation?
If we take the earlier and Canadian version of this word, in a way the negative connotation to it makes sense, women were usually looked down upon for being sexually free.
But what does not make sense is why has that connotation remained till yet where women are in a loving and steady relationship with a guy younger to them.
Also, one could say that the male counterpart, that is older men dating younger women are called ‘craddle-robber’, ‘sugar-daddy’ and much more, but society at large does accept the relation more easily than they do for the woman.
Older men generally are not subject to the jeers, insults, and mockery that older women have to face in such a kind of relationship.
It Makes Sense For An Older Woman To Take A Younger Man
Biologically speaking, it makes perfect sense for an older woman to take a younger man since men are scientifically proven to have a shorter lifespan than women.
So why would a woman go for a man who is way older to her and ready to drop down instead of choosing a man who would have a longer life?
Also in terms of reproduction, an older woman going for a younger man is understandable since he would be more fertile. As per a study done in 2004 for the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, it was revealed for couples using in-vitro fertilization, that each year that a man ages it added about 11% chance that the couple could not get pregnant.
Another study done by the McGill University researchers in Canada has deduced that males too have their own biological clock and that over time their sperm can form genetic mutations. While these problems are overcome by women below 40 years of age, but once women hit that mark, their eggs can no longer correct those defects, which technically means that an older woman could still get pregnant by a younger partner with fewer chances of the baby getting some kind of genetic problem.
Why The Whole Shading Needs To go Away
I believe it is time that the whole shading given to the term cougar or the negative image it has is done away with.
It is high time that women shouldn’t need to wear an age-label in order to prove whether they are eligible for a relationship or not. And the same goes for men too who shouldn’t have their masculinity questioned just because they are with an older woman.
While there a few unfortunate examples like Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, who had a 16 year age difference but broke-up after a few years of marriage, there are a lot of really positive real-life examples of couples with an older woman and younger man.
The Hollywood pairs of Hugh Jackman being 13 years younger to his wife Deborra-Lee Furness, or Chris Hemsworth being 7 years younger to his wife Elsa Pataky are proof that age has no meaning when it comes to having a good relationship.
Even closer to home we have Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya, who have a menial 2 year age gap, Nargis and Sunil Dutt or even current stars like Preity Zinta who is 10 years over her husband Gene Goodenough, Kunal Khemu who is 5 years younger to Soha Ali Khan, showing everyone that an older woman is not some kind of anomaly.
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