When Cougars Attack: The Too Hot For Teacher Trend

The term cougar has become a status symbol, synonymous with women of a certain income bracket, age, and beauty. While it is seemly an honor to be pretty and powerful enough to bed a younger man, lately it’s also been misinterpreted and become outright predatory. With Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” being consummated all over the country, the term “cougar” is getting a bad name. Indulging in trophy man is one thing, plucking an unripe boyfriend from junior high school is quite another — not to mention it’s illegal. A bunch of bad apple female educators have been spoiling the whole bunch. On Monday, the news that a Massachusetts elementary school teacher running off with her student became public, but she’s hardly the first educator in Massachusetts to rape a child in grade school this year.Heck, there were three cases of female teachers seducing their students in Tampa alone last year! The statistics are scary: 10% of teen boys claim they have been harassed by someone who works at their school.  Oprah may try and defend all these women’s actions because they think they’ve found true love, but that only makes it more unsettling.  So, while it’s fun to applaud women like Madonna for seducing another 22-year-old model, maybe our gender is being screwed by the attitude behind that behavior. Perhaps it’s time we face up to our cougar reveling and realize we’ve created a monster!
On one hand, men have been after young prey since the dawn of time. If I had a nickel for every time a guy went for some chick that was too young for him, well, I would by blogging from my estate in the south of France.  But, alas, going for girls has only made us women feel threatened and degraded. So, to counteract all those negative feelings, it has been empowering to watch women pull off the same stunt guys have been getting away with. When Demi and Ashton got married, l felt a tingle of pride. It was exciting, even natural, for a go-getter like Samantha on “Sex In The City” to sugar mama a young stud.  And now, Jennifer Aniston is showing Brad Pitt she doesn’t need him by bringing the decade younger John Mayer to the Oscars. But did that really give her the upper hand? We have to look beyond sex and its seductive presence in our tabloid loving, taboo breaking society.  Sure, these particular examples are all of the consenting adult variety, but the ideals behind it are getting perverted. The combination of our overly enthusiastic girl power support coupled with the jolt of smug satisfaction that is generally socially bestowed upon a women who can wrangle a hunk over a generation her junior can actually encourage a tainted relationship. Whether it’s a Lolita or a Lance, romanticizing the young to the point of fetish is dangerous. And when carried out, it’s sexual abuse. There’s clearly a dark side to the cougar fantasy and we’re all paying the price.  The question is, can we rise above the bad rap before it’s too late?
Women like Linda Franklin of TheRealCougarwoman.com, Dr. Janet Taylor, and “Cougar” author Valerie Gibson are going on The Today Show to do damage control on behalf of regular, law-abiding cougars. Are the number of pedophilia cases the media’s fault for making cougardom seem so glamorous? No!  Should we just toss the terminology? Maybe.  Should we finally change our attitudes about these kind of relationships? Absolutely. The fact is, women who seduce underage boys are not motivated by sexual prowess — they’re sick. It’s not just men taking advantage of little girls, women can be just as bad.  It’s long overdue, but we must start warning our boys that they can be raped, teach them how to protect themselves, and stop thinking someone is harmless because they’re a woman.