The XX Factor

Cougars: Now Real Thanks to Barely-There Science!

Breaking news ladies: Cougars are oh-so-real. Yep, science has proved it. In fact, the word “cougar” is basically a scientific term now. Thanks, science!

Except not really. This is all according to a New York Times article highlighting the demographic shifts in dating and marriage for women over 40. The shocking new trend: Older women are dating and marrying younger men now-that is if you can count the scanty 1.3 percent of marriages where a woman is 10 years older than her mate as deserving of a trend piece. (Note: Demi is in that one percent, if that sways your opinion.)

And what’s more, the miniscule number of cougar marriages aren’t even that unhealthy! A finding that evidently surprised the lead author of the study, Nichole R. Proulx: “Initially I thought I would find more issues … but it’s a relationship like any other, despite what society might say.” So here comes the breakthrough: A relationship between a 40-plus woman and a younger man is …  a relationship . I hope you’re taking notes.

So why publish an article about barely-there demographics and studies that state the obvious? To ground another baseless cougar trend piece in a false sense of scientific validity, of course! You see, the real point of the article is to expand on an already overwritten, painfully stale cultural myth. According to the piece, there are TWO different types of cougars-the clingy, sexually desperate, pathetic older women, and the robust, sexually confident older women. Of course, the latter group can’t simply be called robust, sexually confident older women, so they’re called “real cougars.” Roar.

Point being: if you’re a single woman over 40, you’re going to fall into one of the cougar categories. You might as well make it the good one. Christie Nightingale, founder of a matchmaking service, tells the New York Times what makes a good cougar, one that she can do something with. “I have to be conscious of how many cougars I’ll actually work with,” she said. “If a woman is truly stunning, a really pretty woman who has a good attitude, who is hip and youthful, I can call some of these men on the fence and maybe get them to go with someone older.”

So just make sure to be really stunning and beautiful, and also maybe enjoy Lady Gaga, and you’ll totally rock the cougar thing. And maybe someday, if you’re really lucky, you’ll have a chance at being part of the 1.3 percent of happily married cougars. And in five years the New York Times can interview you and your cougar household when they need yet another way to frame the same ‘ole sexist crap.