The Power Dynamic of the Cougar and the Toyboy

The concept of the cougar is something that seemed to blossom during the early 2000’s. Celebrity couples such as Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore brought the idea of the cougar and the tomboy into mainstream media. Along with the United States, countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand have seen an increase in cougar, tomboy marriages showing a growing acceptance of such a relationship status. However, while acceptance rises, there is still larger amount of older male couples and cougar relationships tend to only have a few years difference between the partners. Even with this seemingly new relationship dynamic, certain assumptions of female-older couples are problematic.

        There is commonly the assumption that cougar relationships create more equality for both men and women, especially when male-older relationships represent a more “male dominated” relationship. While this may be the assumption of many, after interviews by the writer about power dynamic in female-older relationships, it was discovered that perhaps women held more power in those couples than the perceived equality society believes to be true. This very notion says a lot about how society views women in relationships. While male-older relationships reflect male dominance, female-older relationships (in the perspective of society) are equal, not female-dominated. That is to say, that even when a woman is older, she cannot be perceived as dominant of a younger male, but rather, his equal. It is clear that the idea of power is something that cannot easily be disassociating with relationship statuses. As stated by the author, “male-older relationships and female-older relationships tended to only talk about women in their discussions of power; male power was invisible”. In this case, invisibility refers to males not needing to assert an already established dominance. While the cougar tomboy relationship becomes more prominent, the role of dominance and power due to gender still seems to have remained untouched.

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