Thursday, August 18, 2011

AARP's advice for Cougars

How to be a cougar? First, get rid of the old-lady underwear. Go for the sexy stuff, advises AARP. Get a thong! A push-up bra! Garter belts!

AARP has joined the Cougar Nation. In “How to Be a Cougar: 7 steps to snagging a younger man,” author Pamela Satran tells older women to get flashy and trashy.  Forget about “making love.” Just “have sex. ” Oh, and this: be sure to tell that young man how AWESOME he is.

“Let’s practice,” writes Satran.
Young guy: "I'm in my third year of law school." You: "Awesome!"

Young guy: "I'm into skateboarding and hanging out with my dog, Spike." You: "Awesome!"

Young guy: "Let's get naked." You: "Whoa there! I mean, awesome!"
We burned our bras 40 years ago for this??  Well, OK. I never did actually burn a bra, but I did have that “click” moment of radicalization so aptly described by Jane O’Reilly in the first issue of Ms. Magazine in 1971. (Mine wasn’t about lingerie; it was about being assigned to make coffee for the men in the office.)

Probably I never burned a bra because I had so few of them. I once had lots of lacy lingerie when I was too young to make much use of it. (Although my sister did introduce me to the man who became my first husband by saying, This is my sister who wears black underwear. That was in the pre-Gloria Steinem days. Thanks, sis.)

In the heady days of liberation, we protested being sex objects and trashed the Frederick’s-of-Hollywood look. Now, apparently, buying hot pink pushups is a way to feel good about yourself, for women young and old, married or single, cougars or not. That’s probably good, in a full-circle kind of way. But what about flaunting that slinky bustier?  Some young women in the post-Steinem era seem to be reframing the underwear question in a provocative way, leaving little to wonder about. We are sexy, they say. But we are not sex objects. And we will not be told to make coffee for the guys in the next office.

Perhaps older women can take a lesson from their young sisters in the Advanced Lingerie department. But that advice about attracting a younger man by flashing your thong and pandering to his ego seems creepy to me. It prowls at the edge of an era when women thought they couldn’t be both sexy AND smart, when they believed they had to act stupid before a man would find them interesting. Really, AARP? Awesome?

That’s a little like asking, Coffee, tea, or me?


  1. It also sounds as though the AARP is advising older women to behave like stereotypes of younger women to snatch up a younger man. All very misguided.

  2. I just finished your article in AARP-and I wept with the honesty of Michael's writing. When I began seeing my husband in 1998, it WAS going to be a fling on my part-heavens, I was 50 to his 38-what more could it be?! I had not seen him in over 20 years; he was the friend of my best friend's son. Dinner, movies, great sex-and then I was sure he would go on his way. I looked for articles about older women/younger men, since "cougar" was still a wild animal in the forest. Fun turned to love turned to marriage, and I have finally stopped wondering if the next pretty, shapely 30 year old would turn his head and heart away. As I watch him sleep, my worries now are that I will get an illness that drags out, or lose my mind. But, like Michael, his soul has always been older, and mellow. The age difference has never occurred to him, except when I beat him at Trivial Pursuit - he says I know more!Thank you for your blog, and your insight, and for your honesty. In response to Blog Princess G's ridiculous comment: when you are old enough to wear a bra, Little Girl, burn it and stop taking yourself so seriously! AARP is truly a great magazine. We may be an "older" bunch of folks but that doesn't mean we are stupid. Age is a number. It's truly what is in the hearts of two people.

  3. AARP needs a makeover. I don't know of one older woman who likes the term 'cougar.'

  4. Whoa there, Anonymous, I'm 46. I think you may think my comment is about the article concerning the couple on this blog. It isn't. I love that piece! My comment is concerning another AARP article giving very predictable advice on how to snag a younger man.

  5. To Anonymous#2: I hate the term "cougar," too. But some older women DO like the term. Still, most of the women who've commented on our site who are in relationships with younger men also don't like the term. To Princess G and Anonymous#1: Sounds like you're on the same side!

  6. Like many others, I just finished reading the AARP article. Unlike many others, my story is the opposite - my husband is 22 years older than me. We are into our 11th year of marriage and still going strong. There had been many hurdles to cross - cultural (I'm Singaporean-Chinese and he's American-Jewish), age difference and all others in a normal relationship.

    The age had bothered me greatly initially, to the point of giving me sleepless nights. I wondered what I would do when he passes on before me, when the day comes, how I would carry on, given that I'm not just so much younger than him, but also that I would be all alone, in my 60s or 70s, probably. I wondered how I would cope with learning to be single at that age, at doing everything by myself at that age.

    I've gone back to school full-time, and have another 5 1/2 years to go (BA and then law school). By the time I'm done with school, I would be 45 and my husband 67. It doesn't look like we would be able to quite enjoy the "golden years" since I would probably be working long hours and days.

    It is a scary road, I'm not sure I've totally gotten over that fear, it's a daily battle, it seems. Maybe coming to this blog will be able to help me see things from different perspectives.

  7. I'm glad to see that there are more people out there like my husband and I. I'm 16 years older then he is and we've been together for aver 20 years and married for going on 18.

    At first I was so afraid of looking stupid by being with someone so much younger. I also feared that as I aged he would no longer find me attractive. I guess what convinced me to give in and just let it happen was when he said, we all change, will you stop loving me if I gain a lot of weight or go bald? He also has a great sense of humor and I find that when I'm taking life too seriously, he can always put me in a better place. Once I was worring about getting older and he told me with a straight face, "don't worry Babe I'll bring you meals on wheels if you need me too".