MAE WEST's name always pops up in those articles about cougars — — a squinty-eyed noun not unlike that vulgar four-letter disparagement that begins with C. Are adults so fearful of socially voracious females that they must be classified as predators? Since when is intense female vitality a threat to young males, or serious enough to be labeled and branded?
• • Hadley Freeman, an intrepid Guardian columnist and features writer, has taken a different approach to cougar-hood. Her sly examination of this May-December chemistry clarifies that she does not consider an older woman as one more example of cosmic gall. A snippet of her amusing insight follows.
• • Hadley Freeman writes: Cynics may point out that, despite the tabloids' unabated horror, powerful female celebrities with nubile younger men is not exactly new, with examples such as Mae West and Joan Collins (who surely earned the universe's eternal adoration when, asked whether she was concerned about her and husband Percy's 32-year age difference, replied, "If he dies, he dies") coming easily to mind. For every Samantha Jones, there's a Blanche Devereaux making double entendres in the background.
• • Hadley Freeman continues: But these cynics are missing the point, because few things retain the ability to shock like the idea that a woman doesn't necessarily float off on an iceberg of chastity after her 35th birthday. And if the horrifying spectre of young male flesh brushing up against older female skin wasn't sufficient warning, here's Iris Robinson, now being treated for clinical depression, after her affair with a teenager was exposed, although it's hard to say what has horrified people more: her alleged financial improprieties in raising money for her lover's business or that the gentleman concerned was 19. Six of one, half-dozen of the other, really. (Incidentally, my favourite cougarish tale comes from Peter Biskind's biography of Warren Beatty, in which Beatty took a more mature Lillian Hellman out to dinner. Most ladies worry about getting food stuck in their teeth on a date; Hellman went one further by dropping her teeth into her spaghetti. Nonetheless, Beatty was apparently quite taken. Who needs Oil of Olay when Beatty's around?) . . . .
— — Excerpt: — —
• • Article: "What's with all this talk of 'cougars'? Why are women being labelled like animals in the zoo for dating younger men?"
• • BY: Hadley Freeman | Columnist
• • Published by The Guardian [UK] | www.guardian.co.uk
• • Published on: 20 January 2010
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