A dirty old woman in cougar's clothing
The following is a work of opinion submitted by the author.
"Has women's liberation been reduced to this hypocrisy?" I mused at a recent family gathering to celebrate a lovely family member's graduation from high school.
Guests stood or sat chatting on a deck overlooking a green-on-green golf course this perfect summery day. Shortly after his arrival, a young man in gray slacks and starched shirt moved toward a tableful of attendees. There, the fellow greeted those he knew by name, shaking men's hands and kissing ladies' cheeks, before being introduced to a female friend of the family.
"You look really good. I mean reeaally good," the attractive, physically fit woman said. She looked the young man up and down. "How old are you?"
"I'm 25," he replied with a slight grin and raised eyebrow.
"Well I'm 47," she added smugly.
The young man looked his admirer in the eye and replied, "That's about double, isn't it!"
Instantly, the woman turned to one of our family members and declared, "If you can flirt with my son, I can flirt with your nephew."
Our family member cocked her head to the side and sat in silence.
Under different circumstances, I would have chalked this creepy exchange up as another distortion of what was supposed to be equal rights for women and men.
Instead, I felt my temper rising — for my child was the object of this old-enough-to-know-better woman's desire. But responding to her suggestive remarks was not my choice. It was my grown-up son's. This scene that I found so inappropriate was his to handle, not mine.
I'm old enough to remember feminists' demands for respect from men in the late 1960s and early 1970s because we females were tired of being treated like objects, especially "pieces of meat." Yet, here was a woman in mid-life, a pleasant one, with whom I've chatted at other family get-togethers, addressing my son as if he was nothing more than a beef chunk.
"You would have been proud of me for keeping my mouth shut today," I said to my spouse on the ride home. Then I told him about the graceless episode involving our child.
"As a young guy, he was probably flattered in a way," my husband said. "But think about this. Can you imagine the response if one of the older men, maybe one of the fathers there, had said the same thing to one of the young women at the party?"
We agreed that such an exchange would have been widely considered taboo. Witnesses to a scene like that would be appalled by the male aggressor's behavior or consider him a pathetic case of male mid-life crisis. He might be labelled a dirty old man, a jackass, or both.
Meanwhile, liberated women of a certain age who pursue young men in their teens and 20s have been amusingly dubbed "cougars." It's a title that's too complimentary. There's grace in the movements of real cougars. Those four-legged felines command respect. In behaving like dirty old men, older women who prey on young men have relinquished their right to respect.
So in the spirit of evolving sexual equality, it's time to find a more suitable label for on-the-prowl older females who set their sexual sights on young men. How about "coyotes"?
One can almost hear these dames howling: "We are dirty old women. Hear us roar."