Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Cougar/Menopause Connection

In her book, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, Christiane Northrup, M.D. states the following about menopause: "No other stage of a woman's life has as much potential for understanding and tapping into women's power as this one -- if, that is, a woman is able to negotiate her way through the general cultural negativity that has surrounded menopause for centuries."

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


A good friend brought to my attention the fact that many people define cougars as older women who ONLY date much, much younger men. I was unaware of this singular, narrow vision. So, I looked up the definition of women cougars - and there are several.....

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.

Up next:

The Cougar/Menopausal Connection

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The True Cougar

As a single woman in my early (very early) 50's, I'm not sure I appreciate the label, "cougar."
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.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Just created my first blog. Have much to share, discuss and rant about,
depending on whether I'm in the mood to purr or roar.
For now, I'll just say hello and welcome.

Tomorrow's subject:
Women as cougars - Positive or Derogatory?