A key reason older women pursue relationships with younger men— better sex. Relationships involving older women (cougars) and significantly younger men (cubs) went mainstream in 2009 with the premiere of the TV show “Cougar Town.” There have always been couples comprised of older women and much younger men. Then in 2017 Emmanuel Macron was elected president of France, and the media feasted on the fact that his wife, his former high school Latin teacher, was 24 years older.
Not surprisingly, sexologists have recently delved into the cougar-cub phenomenon.
A French researcher conducted in-depth interviews with 55 women, age 30 to 60 involved with significantly younger men. Their choice of mates involved several factors independent of their age differences: appearance, intelligence, kindness, and sense of humor. But younger men also gave older women a welcome gift—“script-defying” sex.
“Script” refers sexual scripts, the sexological term for culturally accepted generalizations about sex, what many people consider conventional and normal. Prevalent sexual scripts include:
- Men lust, women want to feel desired.
- “Sex” equals fellatio and intercourse.
- Men should orchestrate sex. Women should follow their lead.
- Women come during intercourse.
But these scripts are mistaken:
- Yes, women want to feel desired. In addition, some also experience male-style lust, for example, many cougars who have been denigrated by lovers and friends for having strong libidos.
- Sex equals intercourse and fellatio in one key realm—pornography. Porn shows little if any, cunnilingus. This mis-educates men about women and lovemaking. Cunnilingus is key to most women’s orgasms and erotic satisfaction. Cougars instruct cubs how to provide it, so the women come more consistently than many have with age-matched lovers, and enjoy greater sexual satisfaction.
- When men orchestrate partner sex, they enjoy orgasms around 95 percent of the time, but women’s rate of orgasm is only around 50 percent. As just mentioned, in cougar-cub relationships, the women insist on cunnilingus, which allows them to work up to orgasm. And cubs appreciate having experienced teachers who clue them into the fine points of pleasuring women.
- In TV and Hollywood intercourse, after a few thrusts, both lovers come. Actually, only around 25 percent of women are consistently orgasmic from intercourse alone. The other 75 percent need kissing, cuddling, whole-body massage, handjobs, and cunnilingus. Compared with men their own age or older, cougars say cubs are more teachable, therefore, preferable partners.
Finally, in the study, high-libido cougars appreciated their young bucks’ sexual energy and stamina, their ability to raise new erections soon after ejaculating.
While the cougars craved cunnilingus, in no way did they reject intercourse. On the contrary, they enthusiastically endorsed one standard sexual script, the primacy of penis-vagina intercourse. They wanted it every time. They also wanted generous cunnilingus—and made sure their cubs provided it.
Cougar-Cub Sex: Is It Child Abuse?
- Many cubs are legal adults —55—year—old women with 30-year-old men. But some cubs are barely teenagers. If a 30-year-old man has sex with a 12-year-old girl, she’s a victim, he’s a pedophile, and most Americans would happily lock him up. But if a 30-year-old woman dances prone with a 12-year-old boy, is she a pedophile?
- In the case of Mary Kay Letourneau, the court thought so. In 1996, Letourneau was a married, 34-year-old elementary school teacher in Burien, Washington, when she began a consensual sexual relationship with her then-12-year-old student, Vili Fualaau. The following year, she gave birth to their daughter.
- Letourneau’s husband divorced her. A relative of his called the police. In a plea bargain, she was sentenced to six months in jail on the condition that she never see Fualaau again. A month after her release, police caught the two together and she was sentenced to seven years in prison.
- In 2004 when Letourneau was released, Fualaau was a legal adult. He petitioned the court to rescind the no-contact order. His request was granted. The couple married in 2005 and had another child. “I always wanted the relationship,” Fualaau said, “I was never a victim. I’m fine.”
- Until the late 1970s, the legal system typically ignored sexual relationships involving cougars and underage boys based on the belief that they caused no harm. Since then, cultural sentiments have changed. If cougars bed underage boys, the courts treat them as sex offenders. But when cougars get busted for sex with minors, they’re much less likely than comparable men to go to prison and if imprisoned, they serve shorter sentences.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of men with histories of cougar-cub relationships believe there’s nothing wrong with them. In one study, almost two-thirds of adult men who, as minors, had sex with adult women felt fine about it. Many expressed gratitude for their sexual initiations and the erotic instruction they’d received. Of those who felt less than positive, 33 percent felt neutral. Only 5 percent said they’d been abused.
What do you think of cougar-cub relationships? And if older women have sex with male minors, do you think it’s child sex abuse?