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Why Society Does Not Accept ‘Cougars’


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When women of a certain age date much younger men they are often referred to as “cougars.” But society has a hard time accepting older women with much younger men.

The late writer and philosopher Susan Sontag wrote in 1972: “It is thought to be a scandal for a woman to ignore that she is old and therefore too ugly for a young man.”

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Actor Eddie Murphy, 62, has 10 children, including two with life partner Paige Butcher, 43.

Older men with much younger women are generally accepted in society, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.

“When a woman is with a significantly younger man she is a ‘cougar,’ a wild, predatory cat who can break the neck of her victim with her jaws, whereas when a man is with someone significantly younger we don’t need a word for it because it is just normal life,” writes WSJ’s Katie Roiphe.

Roiphe recalled her friend’s “vitriolic” reaction to seeing a fresh-faced younger man standing next to a much older woman. “These relationships look wrong to us,” she wrote.

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According to Roiphe, an older cougar with a younger man “disrupts our sense of the natural order of things.”

The natural order is for young men and young women to procreate and populate the Earth.

Typically, a cougar’s eggs are past their expiration date and are no longer viable. But older men are virile and can still breed into their 80s.

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Actor Al Pacino, 83, and his ex-girlfriend Noor Alfallah, 29, recently agreed to keep their custody battle for 4-month-old son, Roman, private and out of a public court. Alfallah recently filed for full custody of their son.

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French President Emmanuel Macron, 45, and his wife Brigitte, 70, have drawn consternation from the public and journalists alike. They tied the knot in 2007 when he was 29 and she was 54. As a result, their union is childless.

Roiphe suggests that a relationship between a successful older woman and a broke man may feel “threatening or lopsided” in a “world that pretends to be comfortable with female ambition.”

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“It may also be that the sight of an older woman with a younger man exposes some of the hidden infrastructure of aging that we don’t like to think about,” writes Roiphe.

She added that a much younger man highlights “the older woman running up against the taboo of aging itself: She is daring the observer to contrast and compare” her looks with his.

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