Sunday, January 24, 2010
The first time I gave it serious consideration was when Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy Jr. died relatively close together in time. There was a discussion among some friends about current events and someone said, “Why is it always the people who offer so much hope to the rest of us that die so suddenly? They could have changed the world.” (I’m paraphrasing, of course, but this woman was serious in that she was counting on these individuals to make the world better.)
An answer popped into my head and immediately rolled out of my mouth. (Those who know me know that this is a common occurrence.) I replied, “ Because we tend to latch onto and depend on people in the public eye, who appear inherently good and who want to make a difference. We put them on pedestals, drop the responsibility in their laps and expect them to change the world for us. So maybe this is the universe’s way of telling us that we have to do the work ourselves, collectively, as one – as one human race.” (I’m paraphrasing again but basically this is what I said.)
The most recent of us who was put up on this pedestal to save the human race from itself is our President, Barack Obama*. Where else was he to go but down when so many put him up on such a ridiculously high a pedestal that he was compared to Jesus Christ for Christ’s sake! (I never saw him as the Second Coming, but as a mere mortal and no better than we’ve sadly come to expect our politicians to be). However, the comparison is right on target for this rant. Yes, dear reader, it’s a rant. This cougar will be roaring this time around. So “buckle your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”
The unfortunate fact of the matter is that collectively, humans are sheep; and too many of us are lazy sheep. Generally speaking, we expect others to do the work, be the good guy, change the world – while we sit back, change nothing and wait, obsessed with material things and celebrities. The buck passers follow the lives of Paris, Rhianna, Brangelina, and countless others in the public eye for either their fame, their money, their notoriety – salivating as we wait for one of them to screw up so we can gleefully trash them while gobbling up the dirt we feed on in the trash rag mags. How we love to hate them!
And then, there are the special ones, those who actually accomplish something noteworthy. We hold them in the highest regard (be careful here, this is the mark of doom). Until they make a mistake. We immediately point the finger at these selected ‘chosen ones’ whenever they misstep and fall down to the point where they are human like the rest of us. They are brutally kicked off of their pedestals or thrones, tossed into the rubbish pile with the rest our iconic fascinations and trashed even more vehemently. . . 'because they know better.' They must set an example, they are held to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. Like Michael Phelps, an individual who put aside childish things during his childhood in order to accomplish something extraordinary and - when he decided to sample life like the rest of us - got slammed for it.
Give me a break. On second thought, give him and others like him a break!
And while I’m at it, love him or hate him, give President Clinton* a break. Were his oval office sexual antics appropriate? No. Was he the first? No. Should he have lied? No. But should they even have asked him the question? No. It had nothing to do with governing. It was a private matter and there was family to consider. Yet everyone in the public and private sector strung him up. Congress was the biggest group of hypocrites. The documented material on the sex that goes on IN the Capitol building would comprise a hardcore porn miniseries for a 6 year run. And the private sector? The you’s and me’s? None of us have ever done anything wrong, have we?! “But we’re not the President!” “But we aren’t Olympic champions!” So what. We are all representatives of our country. We are all supposed to set an example and be heroes. We are all equal. And we all make mistakes. We need to hold ourselves to the highest standard before we judge anyone else. So unless you are the one without sin, don’t cast stones.
Messiah or not, Jesus was a very wise man.
* The use of political figures for this blog was strictly for their connection to my point. Although both examples were Democrats, I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I’m a moderate who votes according to pertinent issues. So please, no political fodder in your responses!
Next Up: Jesus the Scapegoat – Why we shouldn’t keep him on that ridiculously high pedestal.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
There is much to consider here as to the connection between the mind/body/emotional well-being of a menopausal woman and society's ferocious label of women as cougars.
For one thing, many women may not even realize the totality of what is going on within this trifecta of the self (mind/body/emotional well-being). They might think that menopausal symptoms are limited to hot flashes, diminishing bone density, weight gain, and bitchiness. As a result, they aren't able to communicate to their partners the sum of what is truly going on.
Factor in that, generally speaking,the communication gap between the sexes remains a Grand Canyonesque chasm and that a vast majority of men and women equate menopause with old, and it is easy to see how misunderstandings and preconceptions prevail. Plus, let's not forget the ways in which we are conditioned by the media and by human weakness to focus on and be consumed by the negative. But that's a topic to growl about another day. For now let's focus on positivity and understanding the connection between menopause and cougardom.
There is much more going on during the perimenopausal/menopausal phase than the myriad of symptoms mentioned above. To paraphrase Dr. Northrop, this is the time when a woman focuses on recreating her life to accomodate the values and dreams that she put on hold during the nurturing years. During menopause, a woman "is more apt to tell the truth than ever before . . . and less apt to make excuses for others. Many women quest for peace of mind against a background of turmoil and change . . .and explore new facets of their identity." We begin to answer the creative call within ourselves in any number of ways: we change jobs or begin a new career, go back to school, write (!), take voice, dance, or acting lessons, learn crafts and make jewelry, pottery, afghans, quilts, etc., actively speak out for social justice, run for office - you get the picture. This newfound freedom to take care of ourselves and our needs often leads to self-acceptance and a shedding of inhibitions, thereby freeing us to explore and experience new heights of both our sexuality and our creative expressions. Dr. Joan Borysenko calls these years a "midlife metamorphosis."
These years are not a preclude to the winter of a woman's life, but rather, a second spring to the latter half of her lifespan. This is something to celebrate, not to fear. Men struggling in relationships with menopausal women may want to shift their perspectives and view this stage of women's lives as a positive thing. It is when we, as women, come into our personal power (at least, the baby boomer women of my generation do. Younger generations of women may or may not be as strongly attached to the stigma of the male/female voice and the gender roles that dominated the 20th century).
We finally know who we are, what's truly important for our well-being, and how we can find balance in serving ourselves while we continue to serve others. Consequently, women feel rejuvinated and excited about their futures. If their partners don't go with the flow (ironic timing for that phrase, isn't it?), their relationships will often be in danger. The cougar's prowess to achieve self-fulfillment is now maximally heightened and she will abandon her den if she must. But usually, this will occur only when her mate does not appreciate or understand that she would rather venture into newfound freedoms of expression without abandoning her den so that she and her mate can venture on this journey together. If her mate is unwilling to accept this empowered female, she will seek acceptance elsewhere.
This may be where the most common label of cougar was born, for many men over 50 are not used to the idea of women being so outspoken, aggressive, self-assured, and independant. Younger men are because gender roles have been substantially modified in the past few decades. Thus, it has become more common for women to seek the company of and partnerships with younger men. It doesn't have to be this way.
The key is for a man in mid-life to recognize that, in a way, his mate is a whole new woman - she is renewed in that she is finally whole - and their relationship can begin anew as well, on a new footing with a stronger foundation, and deeper, more exciting experiences together - in and out of the boudoir. And for those of you men who spot single women in their forties and fifties out there 'on the prowl', don't assume that we are merely looking to hook up with young studs. Many of us are attractive, strong, self-assured, stable women who are just out with the girls, or out seeking mates who are courageous enough to journey with us through our second spring and beyond.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Some assert that cougars ONLY date younger men; some say they USUALLY date younger men; some claim that they PREFER younger men; some assert that they are women who prefer to hunt rather than be hunted, get their prey and move on to the next victim; some concur with this last one and add that cougars don't play the games that twenty year old women play. Some of the above state that cougars are 35 and up, some say between 30's and 40's, some specify 40's and 50's.
Outside of the 'no game playing' comment, I consider nearly all of these definitions (sans the age references) to be derogatory -which was the point of my entry.
Thanks, TS, for your input. I was unaware that some people saw cougars only as you defined them. The more I know, the better. It's good to be kept on my toes. I hope you will post comments on this site in the future. It will be great to get a dialogue going with whomever else might choose to contribute.
The Cougar/Menopausal Connection
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Yes, it may seem a bit strange that I included this label in my blog title . . but to those who know me - it figures. To those who don't, read on and perhaps it will make more sense to you.
When I first heard that we women in the spring of our mature years are referred to as this magnificent feline, I thought, "cool, I can relate to being called a sleek, proud, masterful creature who can handle herself in the wild world." Then I was told, "well, it's not a compliment." And I was regaled with images of desperate women past their prime, pancaked and primped to the max, stuffed into too-tight, too-young clothing, prowling the bars for a man to devour for the night, for the weekend, for the time it takes his cash flows to run dry.
And it made me sad.
For we are not ALL this pathetic creature.
Some of us are purrrfectly content to be single, at least for now, and know that, whether or not we ever find someone we can be happy sharing our lives with, we are happy with ourselves first, so we will be just fine no matter what. We are comfortable in our skins, spots and all, and when we do go out, we are still young enough to be 'girls who want to have fun' and look good doing it! So I refuse to buy into the labeled vision of woman as cougar. I choose instead, to consider myself and women my age to be the magnificent beings that initially came to mind when I first heard the term Cougar.
So raise your glass of red or white, your cosmo or martini (or whatever you choose to imbibe) and toast the beauty, the glorious freedom of the true cougar: a woman - undeterred by cresting the hill, enjoying the exhilaration of self acceptance, the bliss of no inhibitions, the peace of self reliance, and the desire to continue to seek out romance and partnership without preconceptions.