Women Under 30 Cannot Be Cougars. The End.

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Courteney Cox: Also not a cougar.

Since when did 20-something year old women become eligible for the title of cougar? Apparently, as long as a woman is more than four years older than the dude she's sexing/dating, she gets classified as a cougar now.

Earlier this week, The Hairpin ran a piece about hooking up with younger dudes, written by a woman in her mid or late twenties. The comments quickly filled up with other women in their mid or late twenties sharing their “crazy” stories about hooking up with, like, 23 year old dudes. This is disturbing. For starters, 27 year old dudes don't even question hooking up with younger women, and when they do they certainly aren't embarrassed. A woman who isn't even thirty shouldn't feel like she has to apologize for or make a joke out of being attracted or attractive to a man a few years younger than she is. The fact that relationships where the female partner is significantly (or not so significantly) older than the male partner are scrutinized at all has a lot to do with a lot of the indoctrination we receive as women about our sexual value.

Full disclosure: I'm 33. I date younger dudes. It's not a big deal, but I felt like it was when I was in my late twenties. I thought a lot of stuff was a big deal in my late twenties, and then I just kind of…stopped caring if I was being a woman “correctly.”

For a long time one of my biggest fears was sexual obsolescence. I had this joke about becoming the sexual equivalent of laser disc. I pictured myself in bed with some younger person who was like “What….is this thing? I've never….” and I'm all, “No, no, no! Roger Ebert said this was the superior format! This shit was the height of technology! People would spend significant amounts of money on this!” And they go, “I think I heard about some weird guy in Ohio who collects these things. Maybe call him.”

Most of my female friends are in their 20s and early 30s, and the majority of them are stressing about their age already. These aren't our golden years, ladies. We're not cougars, or pumas, or a whatever-obnoxious-term-the-heteronormative-bullshit-patriarchal-power-hierarchy-wants-to-label-us-to-let-us-know-we're-doing-it-wrong. I propose we stop buying it. Let's define our own worth instead of letting a system that needs us to feel less-than so we'll keep industries afloat and power-structures as they are tell us what our value is.