Today I Got Called A Cougar

Cougar: I’m not sure if it’s a bad thing, a good thing or a neutral thing.

But I can tell you I was surprised when I realized I got called one while walking with Gerry in the park.  Gerry is only 3 years younger than me (which he insisted I point out.)

As we  walked through  #allangardens a woman said  "welcome to Cougartown; watch our for cougar traps." Well, he was 22 when we started dating...

Here’s what happened. We were walking through Allan Gardens and a woman sitting in the Rubby Zone, you know the area most people give a wide berth to, said “Welcome to CougarTown.” Gerry and I smiled at her and laughed as we continued walking.

Then  she followed up with “Watch out for the cougar traps”  and I realized she was calling me a cougar.


I have no idea if that’s a compliment, an insult or something else.

Well, actually I’m pretty sure it’s a compliment for Gerry. That he looks younger enough than me that he’s cougar “meat”.  But wouldn’t that also mean I’m compelling enough to attract a much younger man?  Or is he only with me for the lavish lifestyle I shower upon him?

Frankly the thing that confused me the most was that this was the commentary she chose to fling at me. I’ve been called a lot of things in the past, by a lot of people, in a lot of situations.  Usually in this context it’s a comment about my affluence (rich bitch), attitude (uppity bitch), or sexual proclivities (slutty bitch).  In fairness they didn’t always end in “bitch” but the other words and turns of phrases that have been thrown at me are too blue for my blog.

Perhaps I have reached that time in my life when I transition from bitch to cougar.

So, are you a cougar or a bitch?

Alexa Clark

Alexa is a digital marketer and author with over 20 years in digital & interactive communications in the food and tech industries. Alexa's CheapEats Restaurant Guides, for both Toronto & Ottawa, were Canadian best sellers. She is a recognized authority on social media and has been named one of Canada's 20 Leading Women in Social Media.

12 thoughts on “Today I Got Called A Cougar

  • September 30, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I think I hit cougarville about 6 years ago. I recall being at an office deck party (software company) wearing a leopard print top. One of the males fingered the sleeve of it, popped a quizzical eyebrow, and asked “cougar?”
    I just looked up a few definitions of cougar to see how the word is generally construed. About 40% of them had some variation of older woman (40+) with her sh!t together, comfortable in her body, sexual, attracted to younger men.
    Hell, why not?

  • September 30, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    PatAnderson That’s a great story.  My working-definition has always had “attracted to younger men” read more as “attracted to much younger men and acted on it.”  Which is no more (or less) of an issue than when a man is attracted to much younger women.  
    But thanks for joining the pride.

  • September 30, 2013 at 9:35 pm


  • October 1, 2013 at 9:32 am

    i have always found this label offensive. it is used by men & women alike to describe a woman’s sexual interest in a younger man. it implies that women who enjoy the company of younger men are predatory animals. it’s demeaning & yet another attempt to keep women in their place & tell them they can’t be sexual. the only term that i have heard used to refer to a man who is interested in younger women is sugar daddy, which is also pejorative, but the main thing a man gets called when he is involved with a younger woman is a stud. you two look beautiful together. enjoy one another’s company & flip the bird to assholes like that woman.

  • October 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I’ve had a lot of comments on this post on facebook (which sadly @livefyre isn’t able to pull through. 
    A couple of the comments seem to be based on the woman who made the remark being invested in social norms.

    thing I didn’t point out very clearly in the post above was that (based purely on first impressions, quick glance
    and situation) the woman who
    made this comment was  well outside societies norms herself. She appeared to my
    age, or older, and be part of a group of indigents who hang out in the park, drink, gamble, and generally seem to be struggling in a variety of ways. 
    Her name-calling choice seemed especially odd to me because it is usually a slur flung around by people who are heavily invested in social norms and maintaining their own status.   But if it made her feel better, I’m fine with it. As I said, initially I thought she was sharing a joke, so if the joke was on me and it made her laugh that’s just fine.

  • October 1, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    PatAnderson  – Love this. My Mom (she’s 79) recently described leopard print as “cougar circles”. Not meaning anything about the 40+ woman, just couldn’t remember the word leopard when describing something. Of course… the younger folks in the family (and myself) all laughed and decided that “cougar circles” might indeed be a good description considering how many of the single/divorced 40+ types wear that print 😀

  • October 1, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    PatAnderson (disclaimer – I’m forty- *mumble* but my guy is older)

  • October 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    MerlenePaynter PatAnderson Us 40+ types did grow up in the 80s when skin tight animal prints were worn by women and men. Hard to shake some of the patterns (if you’ll excuse the pun) that we get into in our 20s.  Maybe that is part of where the “cougar” monicker came from.

    For purposes of full disclosure, and reader amusement, my only real foray into animal prints was a leopard skin bathing suit I bought the summer I was 19.

  • October 1, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Am I a bitch or am I a cougar?  I suppose I can be a catty bitch at times, so probably both.  
    I do find it interesting that when I have been called a bitch it has been when I have been “ballsy” and stood my ground or it has been a back-handed compliment, like “skinny-bitch” (although I have finally outgrown that one).  Either way it has been a commentary on a trait of mine that tends to reflect more negatively on the person saying it than on me.  Or so I tell myself.  
    Now that I am of a certain age and still in the dating minefield, I may accidentally step into the cougar zone.  It can be hard to judge ages on first impressions.  I don’t love the term “couga”r as it has a rather predatory connotation and I would rather enter the dating game on an even playing field, regardless of age. I have been told that half my age plus 7 is fair game, but to be honest I prefer to date someone who gets my 80’s music references.
    As for you Dear Lex, take it in stride, own it, and know that you are a fox!

  • October 2, 2013 at 11:16 am

    @JenLove  Thank you for the kind words 😉
    Both those terms really do come with some wildly hostile edges. I completely agree that when they are used they largely reflect more about the person saying it than about the personal begin labeled. I’ve been fairly lucky that “bitch” hasn’t been used to my face when I’m being ballsy, strong or even aggressive. It has never cropped up professionally either, it has usually be used to tear me down in a much more personal manner.  (Which is not to say it hasn’t been used in reference to me professionally, only that I haven’t known it… which is fine by me.)

    In terms of dating, whoever you chose will be very lucky to have you Jen, no matter their age or yours. Of that there is no question.

  • October 2, 2013 at 11:20 am

    @Amanda Earl So many labels are often so loaded with extra layers of interpretation based on who is saying it and who is hearing it that it’s all just a nasty name-calling landmine.  We chose to continue holding hands and laugh, then write this post about it.   It didn’t really impact me, I just find it very surprising what and when people chose to label others.


What do you think?