Published on April 19th, 2013 | by Clare Hiles0
Attack of the Cougars
Iconic 1960’s film The Graduate stunned audiences when it depicted the steamy affair between a young, naïve graduate and a married older woman, Mrs. Robinson.
Then in 1983, cult teenage drama Risky Business saw a gorgeous older prostitute fall for a high school teenage boy, played by Tom Cruise.
Now, well into the 21st century, these relationships are no longer taboo subjects. Enter: the ‘Cougar’.
The Escalation of Cougarism
The suggestive play on words implies a stealthy feline who lures weaker prey or more simply put, a mature lady who enjoys the company of a younger mate.
But why the sudden shift in relationship dynamics?
Recently the media has been flooded with an influx of celebrity ‘cougars’ whose fixation with the ‘toy boy’ has led to a lot of critical speculation. It seems the older the women are, the younger their partners seem to be.
A market for tween pop groups has also risen in the music industry, with One Direction sealing their place as the cougar bait for the over 40s.
Hunting for a Cougar/Cub
Apart from the media spotlight which has placed ‘Cougarism’ on a pedestal, public demand for ‘cougar-themed’ dating events have been on the rise. Cougar-specific bars have popped up in America, and have started to creep into London.
Endless cougar dating websites aimed at older women and younger men have flooded the World Wide Web, marketing the cougar’s life as fun, sexy and exciting. CougarLife.com, Cougar-date.co.uk, are just a few examples.
What turns a Cat into a Cougar?
But what makes a woman actively seek a partner so significantly younger than her; in some cases, young enough to be her son?
Psycho-therapist and counselor Dr. Sheri Jacobson, from Harley Therapy in London, spoke to Arts London News about why women may seek partners significantly younger than them and vice versa.
“The forces of attraction are very complicated – very neural and subtle. They can’t always be boiled down to just one characteristic.” – Dr. Sheri Jacobson
Dr. Jacobson’s views shed an unbiased, psychological light on the cougar phenomenon. While she does mention the possible ‘mother-son’ dynamic this relationship structure provokes, she is quick to point out that the two parties may simply just be attracted to each other regardless of age.
The Student Cougars
While many would define cougars as women over 40 prowling for men under 25, there has been a shift in younger age swaps as well. Women in their early twenties, both young professionals and students, have more recently been drawn to younger men.
Arts London News spoke to students at the London College of Communication about their views on cougar relationships.
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