When you hear the term ‘cougar,’ what do you think of? The stereotypical older woman who prowls on unsuspecting young men? The powerful, wealthy woman who can attract young cubs to their fold simply because she can afford to look younger and has money to burn? The older, unmarried woman who only knows how to express her sexuality by publicly pursuing young men for sex?
Or, all of the above?
As women, we often get a bad rap when it comes to expressing our sexuality. So, I find it intriguing that social researchers have started to pay attention to the cougar moniker and whether or not it is a pejorative or a positive vision that expresses that women continue to have sex lives beyond the age of 40.
According to novel research published in the Journal of Aging Studies, the term ‘cougar’ originated with the launch of a dating website geared toward matching older women and younger men, noting that “the story is that one of the two women who founded the website was told by a nephew that the two ladies were like cougars in search of small, defenseless animals.” Since that time, various websites have been launched, annual Cougar Conventions held and hit television series (Cougar Town) broadcast.
Interestingly, it’s only recently that there has been a renewed interest in women’s sexuality in midlife and lord knows, I’ve explored the topic in great detail on FlashFree. However, stereotypes of women losing their sexual desirability, coupled with the overarching notion that women in menopause are equal to women who are sexually dysfunctional leaves little to the imagination or to reality; as the researchers point out, “the dominant sexual script for women over forty has been the frigid older woman.” Moreover, what about the woman who works hard at staying healthy, possesses a youthful demeanor and appearance and counter ideologies that dictate that they must act and dress a certain way? Or, a woman who dates a younger man because she likes him, not because she’s on the prowl for sex or needs arm candy?
The truth is that when a group of women ranging in age from the their 20s to their 60s were asked about the term “cougar” and what it meant to them, they overwhelmingly accepted the so-called behavior associated with the term while rejecting the label itself. “In other words, older women dating or pursuing younger men was accepted by some women as an alternative sexual script.” And why not?
Yet, some women interpreted the concept as positive, saying that the term was a descriptor for a strong, self-confidant decisive woman, a woman with sexual self-assurance and sexual confidence. Some liked the term because “they believed that it called attention to the positive aspects of older women dating younger men,” suggesting a “relationship dynamic [that] makes biological sense because it allows men and women to be in their ‘sexual prime’ at the same time.” Others were drawn to the term because the concept helped level the playing field, rallying against cultural norms and sexual double-standards that “dictate that only men should date younger partners.”
On the flip side? The women who viewed the term negatively found it insulting because it labeled women as aggressive and violent, masculinized them, conceptualized them at “on the prowl for a partner’s body rather than his mind.” Additionally, it might actually distort the picture of who pursued whom; in some cases, it is the younger man who does the pursuing.
The researchers note that “culture shapes our feelings about aging. Women who rejected the term did so because it conjured the image of a specific type of woman…who does not look like a regular woman or…who is desperate and fighting aging or who does not followed gendered norms for sexual interaction.” Yet, when they probed further, many of these women could embrace the idea that the term acknowledges that “women do not stop feeling sexual desire after turning forty,” …”a welcome alternative to images which dismiss them or make them invisible as sexual beings.”
Yet, for as many who have some sort of lapse in their sexual desire or function as they age, there are countless others who remain interested in and highly sexually active well into their 70s and 80s. The theme here is that “women’s experiences with sexuality and aging are far from uniform…and factors such as generation, relationship status, sexual orientation, cultural norms, health or partner’s health” all come into play.
Personally, I fall in the middle. I would like to believe that the sexual script is being rewritten for women as they age, that culture is beginning to accept that women don’t become invisible the minute that they hit age 40. And yet, I don’t care for the negative connotations — on the prowl, helpless young men, insatiable women. In an ideal world, women don’t have to defend every choice that is viewed as at odds with the norm, whether it’s pursuing a career while simultaneously raising children, deciding not to have children or get married, choosing a same sex partner, choosing a younger partner or maintaining health and appearance simply because it feels good. But we are far from that utopian vision and I highly doubt that we’ll realize it in my lifetime.
What do you think? Who’s your cougar?Read More
Time to lose the chocolate and roses and get your tech data geek on this Valentine’s Day. Indiana University scientists who developed the Kinsey Reporter app (found here on Apple and here on Droid) say that they are turning this Valentine’s Day into a laboratory on sexual behavior during the holiday. Their survey, which is available through the mobile app, will collect data on sexual activity, public displays of affection, flirting, and unwanted experiences. Ultimately, they plan to aggregate global experiences that can be displayed geographically via interactive maps, timelines and charts.
(If you are unfamiliar with the Kinsey Institute, it is one of the world’s leading research organization on sexual health and knowledge. Moreover, a little known fact amongst even my closest friends is that my Aunt used to run the library; talk about kinky boots! But, I digress.)
In a related press release,Filippo Menczer, director of IU’s Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research (and a School of Informatics and Computing professor who helped design the app) says that they are beginning to see some interesting patterns as to how sexual activity varies by relationship status and are even able to dive deeper to ascertain things like the relationship between flirting location and outcome (sounds like data for the next dating app, right?!).
Go ahead; set your own sexpectations this V Day and crowdsource your loving. Who knows? You might just create the next great sexinfographic without trying!
Cheers to love!
Now sex has an ‘easy button:’ Auditory Pheromones™. Never mind the Viagras of the world; according to Soulful Sex Coach Ellen Eatough and founder of Extatica, Inc, all you need is… love? Nope, not love, my dear readers, but music! Music “infused with auditory pheromones.”
In my five years devoted to writing about aging and menopause, I’ve never quite run across anything so absurd in my life. And while Eatough claims that jumpstarting one’s sex life is as easy as listening to her duel CD collection, Love Unbound, I think it’s time to step back and take stock of the number of promises listed on her website, a virtual Pandora’s Box of sexual fantasies unleashed at the push of a button:
- heightened libido and arousal rates
- increased passion and sexual response
- easier orgasms and multiple orgasms for women
- less inhibition, resulting in greater spontaneity
- deeper emotional intimacy
- better communication about sexual needs and desires
- an experience of sexual union
Although Eatough can’t explain how auditory pheromones work exactly to release the inner sexual being, she says that “We all develop patterns, or habits, to get through everyday life, but unconscious habits of emotional interaction, or the sequence of muscles we contract as we approach orgasm, can limit our range of potential response. When limiting patterns dissolve, exciting realms of possibility open up.” The thing is, many scientists will argue that genes cannot be activated by sound because we don’t have the sensory pathways that allow this. Human response to certain sensory stimuli, like music, are due to the release of neuropeptides. But enough of the scientific mumbo jumbo; Eatough says that there is a placebo-controlled study underway to demonstrate the existence of auditory pheromones and their role in creating a cornucopia of sexual pleasure and arousal, all at a push of an ‘easy button.’
Ever since I first subscribed to Birchbox, I’ve been intrigued by monthly subscription services. I’ve given gifts of Bespoke to the favourite men in my life and ConciousBox to my health and eco savvy friends. Everyone who has received the monthly surprises in these boxes has been delighted. So, I am delighted to see that subscriptions have also moved into the boudoir.
I stumbled across SpicySubscriptions yesterday afternoon when I was taking a break from an otherwise hectic day. And, I love the idea of a gift of love to one who deserves it most: you.
I’ve not tried the Spice Box, but the idea is simple: monthly deliveries of lubricants, condoms, massage oils, candles, fragrances, sexual educational books, games, costumes, toys and lingerie to take the spice out of the kitchen and into the bedroom.
Sex during menopause can be challenging; women often have to deal with issues of vaginal dryness, a lack of desire or fatigue, all elements that can lead to sexual dysfunction. Not all of these problems can be conquered by a few toys or lubricant, but boy, oh, boy, shaking up the trees a bit sure can change one’s perspective and perhaps restore some of that lost luster.
I’ve not personally tried SpicySubscriptions so I cannot vouch for the quality of the products nor the company itself. However, I would gladly sign up for the ‘toy of the month’ or ‘spice box’ subscription just as I have signed up for BirchBox.
What do you think? Is Spice Box worth a Friday Fling?Read More
There is a Twitter feed entitled “Cupcake Quotes.” I thought that the following would be a great introduction for this post:
“Don’t wait for extraordinary moments. Seize the moment with cupcakes!”
What moment might I be talking about?
The moment when desires stirs deeply in your loins and there’s nothing there to satisfy but a…
Oh, I’m not referring to the frosted handful of wondrous, creamy icing and moist cake, but to Designer Shiri Zinn’s Cupcake, “the adorable, mighty and oh, so sweet cupcake vibrator.”
Yes, a cupcake vibrator for those times when you crave a sweet of the carnal variety, when you want to pop the cherry that “packs a punch,” when you desire delicious sensations that resonate ‘sweets for the sweet’ or when you simply want to soar…
Right. A cupcake, the nifty ‘pretty in pink and pokadots” vibrator that sits right in the palm of your hand, offers five speed variations and can innocently pass inspection during your next flight.
So, now that I’ve taken the mick, so to speak, let me tell you want I really think:
This one’s a huge dud. I took the cupcake for a test drive and let me tell you, it’s one of the worst designs ever and the cherry, while delivering the goods, just doesn’t make me want to repeat the experience…ever. This clitoral stimulation device is only appealing on one level: it’s a great gag gift (although it’s $48 price tag might leave you with a sour aftertaste) or a moment of fun for a girls night out. Otherwise? Save your money and check out BloomEnjoyYourself.com for their full line of high-end toys to get you where you want to go. The site is also a good source of curated, vetted information on sexual health and adds some fun information in its Daily Bloom.
Word to the wise dear readers: the next time you are ready to carpe diem, find your passion, have your cake and eat it too, well, I recommend that you reach for the real deal and save the cupcake for sweet afterthoughts.
[Disclosure: Bloom Enjoy Yourself contacted me to ascertain my interest in testing out Shiri Zinn’s Cupcake. I was not paid for an endorsement nor was the blog post provided to them ahead of publication for vetting or review.]