Everyday Ethics

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Yeah, yeah, guys have been robbing the cradle since before there were cradles. But do we like it when they’re the culprits? Noooo. We scorn “trophy wives” (a hideous moniker for women to throw at other women, IMO) and look down our noses at rich older gents parading their “nieces” at certain old-school Italian restaurants.

So, why’s it suddenly so fashionable to have a much younger lad on your arm?

As Courteney Cox’s new vehicle “Cougar Town” shows, women in their mid-forties, late forties, and beyond are coming out of the shadows – and kudos, ladies for claiming your mojo. There’s no reason not to revel in your sexuality, your buying power, or your societal relevance in every possible way.

But is it ethically correct to date much younger men?

(Take our poll on the next page…)

It’s a matter of degree, I suppose, as these questions so often are. Some men are mature enough to handle an age discrepancy, even if it’s pronounced, and some women are no more mature in their forties than they were in their twenties. Yet one has to wonder, are young men, in some cases, being taken advantage of by predacious women? The show, for instance, depicts Courteney’s (AKA Jules Cobb’s) love interest as a tasty bit of man-candy to be slavered over.

The epithet “cougar” is so obviously predatory it’s hardly worth pointing it out. Is this trend something we really want to encourage in our society with TV shows celebrating it? The extreme of this is the Mary Kay Letourneaus of the world, and no one wants to see that happen again.

I know, I know, you’re going to argue – the guys love it! Men are just out for sex, they’re happy to be taken in by a more experienced woman and shown the ropes. If there’s using going on, it’s mutual. 

Perhaps. (I like to give men more credit than that.)

I just think when there’s built-in inequity in a relationship, there’s the potential for unethical behavior by either party. Like “mature” women using callow young men to live out a revenge fantasy, or younger men cozying up to older women for money, sex, or other societal advantages. And that’s why this “cougar” trend doesn’t thrill me.

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