Why I Hate the Term Cougar

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Reviewed March 2016

Why I hate the term cougar. Recently, I was having an e-mail discussion with my daughters and other friends, ranging in age from 26 to 61, and one of the 30-somethings sent a Newsweek link to a story about cougars, famous cougars, you know, Susan Sarandon, and we had Madonna, and we had, of course, the most famous cougar of all time, Demi Moore, and she was all over the term, and I hate it. I’ve always hated it. And she said, she didn’t see it as a put-down phrase.

But then my friend, Brenda, chimed in, and she said, honestly, I never let anyone call me a cougar, even though they say, oh, I’m just kidding. Yeah, sure, they’re kidding. To heck with all those twits who think I’m any different in my appeal at 61 than I was at 41. It sure feels the same to me, and my sexuality is red hot in the right male’s company.

So we both agreed that the problem with the term cougar is it’s a put-down of women. It’s like a woman who’s desperate, lurking in the bushes, waiting to pounce on a younger man. We don’t have any term for men who date women who are 20 years younger, do we? They’re just a man. I see it as the same put-down of women as that awful moniker “a woman of a certain age.”

So, because we’re entering the Year of the Tiger on Valentine’s Day of 2010, we came up with a new term that I really like. I remembered a book that I have in my bookshelf, and it’s called The Sexual Secrets of the White Tigress. Don’t you love that? The Sexual Secrets of the White Tigress. And this is a book about how to maintain your sexual youthfulness into old age, and it’s full of Chinese secrets and qi gong and so on.

So what we decided is that we would become white tigresses. And the term white tigress describes how many of us feel about ourselves after the age of 50. We are flourishing as sensual, sexy women who have no need to prowl or stalk younger men. I like to think of us white tigresses as reclining and licking our paws. We are whole, we are happy, and we resist terms like cougar that the culture uses to keep us in a box. Break out of that box with me, will you?

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.

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