Friday, 11 May 2012

Cougar—The New White Elephant

Meet author Fierce Dolan!

You know the saying ‘the white elephant in the room,’ but do you know what it means?  Albino elephants were considered sacred entities to be treasured and worshipped in ancient Asia.  Despite that, their care and upkeep was a tremendous burden, so much so that if a subordinate fell out of favor with a ruler, the poor underling was given a white elephant.  The equation spelled financial ruin to the animal’s overseer.  Hence, the expression came to describe a mixed blessing—a wonderful possession, of which the trouble of maintaining no one wanted to discuss, let alone ameliorate.

So, anyone want a cougar?  Their appeal is admitted through strained comments, yet they are our newest cultural feminine fascination.  That makes them the new white elephant.  They’re the older woman/younger man dynamic that could actually cast an empowering sexual light on women if media would stop spinning them as Slutsville (pun, Cougar Town).

When I first heard the word ‘cougar’ in this use, I thought, "Older women who date younger men are cougars.  Older men who date younger women are men.  WTF?"  In my writing I like to explore the traits that we consider ‘mature,’ and how they have less to do with chronological age than with life experiences and what we take from them.  In other words, in relationship dynamics, maturity relies solely on perception, specifically on the narrator’s view point.  Thus, a more appropriate word for ‘mature’ becomes ‘powerful,’ and interpersonally, power is determined not by age, ethnicity, orientation, or even gender, but by perception.
If you can manipulate (that is, write) the perception of who has power in any given dynamic, the audience will always support that dynamic no matter how much it flies in the face of conventional morality.  Specifically it begs the question: Who has power and who doesn't?

Culturally speaking, our narrator on teh hawt in relationships is still patriarchal.  Thus, our collective perception of people who engage in cougar/May-December relationships is shaped by patriarchal ideals, such as, the male is the authority, the female is the inferior, female sexuality is not relevant, gratification of the male is at the fore, etc.

A lot of people are squicked by older men dating younger women, yet it’s culturally accepted.  Why?  Because it doesn’t threaten our perception of males holding the power in the dynamic.  Inversely, many aren’t at all personally bothered by an older women dating a younger man, yet it’s under constant public scrutiny.  Why?  Well, for one, because over the last decade it’s been equated to school teachers (female) dating their students (mostly male), which is a wholly inaccurate comparison.  The perception of power in this example falls not to older woman/younger man, but to teacher/student, a scenario which never garners conventional support regardless of gender.  Nonetheless, this example is the public comparison constantly makes to cougars, but not to older men dating younger women.  Again, they’re just men.

Why else are we personally cheering for cougars?  Because there are few cultural places where a woman holds the power in any dynamic let alone a core relationship structure, and it’s refreshing for half the population (and a lot of that other half) to have a model that they can on some level relate to.  Beyond those reasons, we always have a greater comfort zone in fantastic possibility over a bleak What Is, and frankly, a woman being in power, especially over a man—however removed from real, day-to-day society it may be—still holds allure to a fuck load of men and women.

Why the symbolism of a cougar?  Why is an empowered older women symbolized as a predatory animal?  My guess is to heap disdain on top of disempowerment.  Women have historically been considered wild, irrational creatures in need of taming, subjugation.  If we don’t get them under control, why they can derail a man!  Consider the accepted model of the aging woman:  Maiden (uncultured simpleton, not exactly flattering), Mother (baby-maker—patriarchal stereotype), and Crone.  What do you think of when you hear the word “Crone?”  An old androgynous being with little use or influence?  A wise resource on Nature, Life, and Beyond?  While one’s at least a little more flattering than the other, neither contains a shred of sexuality, which for our modern narrative means neither contains power.

From a totemistic standpoint cougars are about streamlining one’s power into one’s desires.  They are masters at culling out where their true power lies and not settling for a lesser path.  I’m thinking the coiners of modern lingo didn’t have that in mind at the point of word choice, though.

In that light, I guess ‘cougars’ are a challenge to The Man.  They are a potentially wonderful thing that the overculture doesn’t want to discuss or nurture.  Because if it did, it would have to actually acknowledge a positive component to feminine sexuality, something heretofore seen as threatening and collectively unsanctioned.
If it is only in fantasy that we can suspend such rote ideologies and create one where age difference doesn't carry a disparity in power, I say let it be.  And just maybe that’s a reality we can through fiction eventually create.

Because gods forbid a foxy young maid could hold power over an older man…

What do you think of my take on the perception of power in Gigolo Seduction?

~*~*~*~

As Fierce Dolan is a pen name, I prefer to remain gender-neutral and orientation-free in all open correspondence.  Thank you for helping me accomplish this transparency.

Bio
Mezzofiction author, Fierce is imagination shapeshifted as a scribe taunting blank pages and carpal tunnel, neither of which are much use for deadlines. Close allies are impeccable timing and a trusty masseuse. Being a switch I/ENFP doesn't hurt. For kicks Fierce has other personas across several genres, tends to fill in “Other” on surveys without explaining, and chooses the finality of the Japanese Tamagotchi.

In summary: Fierce writes all kind of dirty things that you probably shouldn’t ever read…

About Gigolo Seduction

On Gigolo Seduction…

Long in passion’s service, confident Asif enjoys his life as a thirty-something escort, bringing romance into the lives of metropolitan socialite cougars. Gifted at seducing wealthy white MILFs and bringing them endless pleasure, the arrogant Persian eschews investing in a personal life. A chance meeting with young artist, Cass, while on the job at a gala event, changes his perspective on women forever, and unleashes desires Asif never knew he had.

From Gigolo Seduction…

“Are your works always so intricate?”

She shakes her head, again scanning the tower, though my eyes stay on her. “Frescoes are always detailed and hard work, but this is way above and beyond. Layering in kinetic elements to give moving light and dimensional depth is my dream project come true. Most of my projects are just frescoes.”

“Just frescoes.” I laugh. “They’re noble and valiant relics in the art world.”

“They’re actually in high demand.” Her tone is matter-of-fact. “Though few people can afford them.”

“Well, you’ve outdone yourself here,” I affirm. Her smile is sincere, her pride evident, elegant, enchanting.

“It’s taken quite a long time to come together, and I’ve left the plasterer more than a little frustrated on several occasions.”

“I can’t imagine him staying angry for long….”

“They’ve given me deep creative license over the project, so that’s saved my ass a couple of times. It’s kind of mind-blowing to work on something so limitlessly funded.”

Our eyes lock for mere seconds and the silence is disturbing. “I was just going for a bite to eat. Would you care to join me?”

Cass nods. “I’d like to, but I need to finish this section. This medium doesn’t wait well.”

She’s genuinely interested and I want her to be. I want her to be as affected as I am. Before I can prod further she asks, “Maybe another time?”

Reluctantly, I follow her to the elevator. She opens it with a pass card attached to a cord coiled on the drawstring of her pants. My eyes linger on the brilliant green gem in her navel.


“What’s your name?”
“Asif,” I reply without hesitating. The sound is bare, like a secret revealed, though I don’t understand why. I always use my real name.

“Another time, Asif.”

The doors slide closed, and I agree.

~*~*~*~

Enjoy Gigolo Seduction along with the Reader’s Guide.
~*~*~*~

Trailer

Website(s)
Experiments in Mezzofiction  http://www.fiercedolan.com
Blog
Writing Utopia, One Word at a Time  http://www.fiercedolan.com/blog
Social Media Links
Facebook @FierceDolan Google+ Goodreads Amazon

SEO keywords:  Fierce Dolan, Decadent Publishing, Gigolo Seduction, erotica, BDSM, interracial romance, Reader’s Guide, cougar romance, totemism, white elephant
META summary:  If you can manipulate (that is, write) the perception of who has power in any given dynamic, the audience will always support that dynamic no matter how much it flies in the face of conventional morality.



9 comments:

Margie Church said...

What amazes me is how easy it is to come up with derogatory labels to describe women, female behaviors, attributes, and physical shortcomings. Men seem to get off scot-free all the time. Cougar isn't a bad label...guess I'm just not a fan of labels. Period.

Anthology Authors said...

Well, that's to keep us down, you know, Margie. And what's worse is it's women coming up with the labels! If we'd ban together, we'd rule the world. (g) Men know that so they work to keep us divided, or at least the media does. (g) And they rule everything, right.

Casea Major said...

Ok first Fierce, -- Let me say that I needed a freaking dictionary to read your post(and a philosophy book). LOL

To some extent I agree with your acessement in that we can effect change through fiction - that's how it's always been. However, i think in some ways many of these former cultural faux pas are becoming more widely accepted (i.e BDSM, varied sexual orientation/pref.)

Demi Moore who is really the only person I can think of off the top of my head that fits your definition(and I realize that fact alone supports your argument). In my conservative middle-class circles, I never found that she was looked down upon for her relationship with a younger man but in most cases revered by us PTA moms.

So perhaps times are a changin', as they say.

At any rate, the rise in popularity of the older woman/younger man trope suggests some amount of cultural shifiting on the issue.

Great post and great discussion! Thank you for sharing.

Fierce Dolan said...

I'm not a fan of labels either, Margie. I don't understand why we need them at all. Thanks for stopping by!

Fierce Dolan said...

There's truth in what you are saying AA. When women criticize each other for things like reclaiming 'slut,' you know things have derailed.
Good to see you here!

Fierce Dolan said...

Yay Casea! I'm always amazed how there can be a big difference in what general populations think and what the media says they think. It's scary...

Good to see you! =)

theawakeneddreamer.com said...

To stir the old pot, my counter argument for women NOT being cougars.

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/03/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-rapacious-woman-lori-ann-lothian/

I'm an editor at elephant journal and wonder FD if you would consider a repost of this piece in our Love section. Email me directly at lori.lothian@gmail.com to discuss. We have a huge readership,

thanks

Lori Ann

Helen W. Mallon said...

I love the word "squicked." Did you invent it, Fierce? (BTW I wish my name was "Fierce"!)

Fiona McGier said...

Historically men have feared women for many reasons. Cave-men feared women because we bled regularly but didn't die. We gave birth and they had no idea they played any part in that.

And when we get pleasured, we can go on forever, theoretically, while they can only perform once or twice, then have to rest up for another round. So women's sexuality has always frightened men, in that they feared not being man enough to satisfy a woman. Hence the attraction of young, inexperienced females who wouldn't know a good lay from a bad one. That way the man can tell her every other man comes in 5 seconds, then immediately begins snoring, and she'll have no way to compare! Grin.