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What is worse than a cougar?

What Is a Puma as Compared to a Cougar in Regards to Dating?

Couple hugging in backyard garden

Linda Lowen is an award-winning writer with more than two decades of experience speaking and writing about women’s issues.

Updated on 08/19/20

A puma is more than a sleek feline predator. It’s also a slang term for a woman’s dating life and, more specifically, the age of the partner she seeks. There are definitely some ageist and sexist connotations to the term, so let’s take a look at what it’s been used to refer to and how it’s evolved over time.

Meaning of Puma in the United States

In the United States, «puma» has been used as slang for a cougar minus ten years; she is defined as a woman in her 30s who prefers dating younger men. Hollywood celebrity Jennifer Aniston has long been associated with the term due to her relationships with younger men, most notably John Mayer (nine years younger).

Demi Moore, in an interview with W magazine in March 2010 (at age 47), expressed her displeasure with the cougar label and said, «I’d prefer to be called a puma,» referring to her (now defunct) marriage to Ashton Kutcher who is 16 years younger than Moore.

Despite Moore’s attempt to use the terms interchangeably, a puma is widely regarded as a woman under 40 who prefers younger men while the cougar label is applied to women in their 40s and 50s who seek out younger male companions who are at least 10 years younger and often half their age.

While May-December romances involving older men with younger women are par for the course, there is often a double standard when it comes to older women dating younger men, even when those women are just in their 30s, hence the development of terms like «puma» to call (negative) attention to it. For example, actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler caught a lot of public flak when she announced her engagement. Sigler was 31 and her beau was 23.

Bottom Line

The use of slang terms to box people — particularly women — into stereotypes based on age and romantic partners is somewhat dated, but it continues to pervade culture at some level. While most people at least have some idea of what a «cougar» refers to, terms like «puma» have largely fallen out of the popular lexicon, and that’s a good thing.

It’s also worth noting that there’s no male equivalent for these terms — in fact, in relationships with older men and younger women, the label still gets put on the woman, with terms like «sugar baby.»

Society continues to put labels on what women desire, whether referring to older or younger partners. But, ultimately, women continue to push back on old taboos and seek out the romantic partners of whatever age they want.

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WSU Women cap great year with awful finale

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - First Round - Pennsylvania

Here’s hoping that all of the Washington State Cougars fans who followed the women’s team to Philadelphia for the Women’s NCAA Tournament at least got to consume some quality cheesesteaks and tastykakes, because the basketball part of the trip was an unmitigated disaster.

By now, you’re aware that WSU is headed back to Pullman after its third consecutive “one and done” tournament showing, and I won’t try to make anyone relive all of it, but man, that was all kinds of terrible. Coming into the game, it was apparent that WSU needed to contain Atlantic Sun Conference member FGCU’s three-point shooting. And the Cougs kinda did that!

One problem — in its effort to keep the Eagles from killing it behind the arc, WSU’s defensive strategy seemed to be, “give them anything within five feet and hope they miss.” Turns out FGCU is pretty good at mostly uncontested shots near the basket, unfortunately. For the game, FGCU shot 25/40 (62.5%) on two-point attempts. I’m not anywhere close to even a mediocre basketball analyst, but I assume most teams that surrender dozens of layup attempts don’t tend to come out on top. Combine that with WSU’s two 2022-23 stalwarts being virtually absent — Leger-Walker and Murekatete performed far below their season scoring averages — and you end up with a season-ending bellyflop.

Sports are funny, in a tragic way. The team that rampaged its way to a Pac-12 Tournament title a mere two weeks ago (beating a top five Utah team by three scores along the way) looked decidedly overmatched against a team from something called the Atlantic Sun. And while the grease fire of a performance that we witnessed Saturday afternoon will never overshadow that amazing late season run the Cougar women pulled off, the 74-63 loss sure puts a damper on it.

Here’s to next season, when WSU returns nearly every key piece, and has a great shot to be better than ever. God knows it can’t get much worse than what we saw in Philly.


Things weren’t any better for the Cougs on the diamond, unfortunately. After taking the series opener on Friday afternoon, WSU’s performance on Saturday resembled that of the football team’s game against Oregon last fall. The Cougs got out to an early lead, and had a chance to do some serious damage, but could not capitalize on a bases loaded, one out situation in the bottom of the third.

Just like that, Oregon took the lead shortly afterward, then poured it on late in the game to win going away. On the bright side, the Cougs have a chance to score their second straight series win of the young conference season on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m., and you can stream the game here.

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This Week in Parenting

I mentioned last week that we were upon spring break. While it wasn’t exactly the spring break experience we got used to in Europe, when we took trips to places such as Normandy, Cinque Terre and Vienna, Team Kendall still got out and about for a bit with a trip to New Orleans. We got there Monday afternoon, and I figured it was a good time to take the kids a couple blocks north to walk down Bourbon Street while the sun was still up and the debauchery was at a minimum. The 11 year-old wasn’t having it. Every time we reached a corner, he would ask, “Can we get off this street now?” Every time, I’d tell him no, that we were gonna keep going. We walked a decent percentage and then took a right, not a moment too soon for him. I finally asked what his problem was. “I saw like 80 drunk people.” I think he overestimated quite a bit, and 10 years from now he’ll probablu tell everyone how awesome the experience was while he orders up another double hurricane.

Before we left, we stopped by a local place to sample some creole/cajun fare. Both kids ordered po boys (oldest got catfish, youngest got shrimp), and had some left over for lunch later on. The 14 year-old finished his on Saturday. As I walked by the table, I noticed something amiss, and asked, “did you really put ketchup on your po boy?” He answered in the affirmative, hammering home more verification that I am a complete failure as a father.

We’ve also got a thief in the house. Or a rodent problem, or some other person/thing that continues to surreptitiously abscond with many of the sweets located in the home. First, Mrs. Kendall’s beloved peanut butter M&Ms disappeared. We confronted both kids, and in a stunning turn of events, neither one took them! Can you believe it? Me neither! Later in the week, Mrs. Kendall went to open the previously-unopened box of Thin Mints. To her surprise, the box had already been unsealed, and was missing an entire sleeve of cookies. Once again, she turned to me. Once again, I said I hadn’t touched them. Then, in a move that nearly floored us both, the 11 year-old said, “Yeah I took those for dessert with lunch.” Half a box of cookies. For lunch. After he refuses to eat breakfast before school. Gee, I wonder why.

Tales from the Road

I mentioned that we took a quick jaunt to the Crescent City this weekend, which included a stay at a hotel in the French Quarter. This particular hotel had something I’ve never seen, but was pretty awesome. With lots of guests and 40 floors, the elevator situation could be perilous. But this place did not have the typical “up” and “down” buttons. Instead, you punch in the floor you want, and the screen tells you which elevator (A thru F) will take you there. It was (mostly) great! I imagine that this much more efficient system is more widespread than I’m aware, but it should be the norm.

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We noticed on Monday evening that the hotel lobby was buzzing with septuagenarians for some reason. Then the next day, they all appeared to be carrying these sheets of paper with all kinds of complex writing. Turns out the national Bridge tournament was taking place at the hotel. The easiest way I can explain the breakfast scene is to tell you to imagine a silver-haired swarm of locusts descending upon the buffet and inundating the poor workers with demands and complaints. The three ladies trying to assuage the swarm were truly doing the lord’s work. I’d have set fire to my apron and walked out. A little later on, I asked a front desk attendant how much longer the tournament was lasting. “Until the 19th.” she said with a look of pained resignation. Oof.

On a brighter note, we finally got to see the Steve Gleason statue in person! It’s awesome.


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Colorado 1901

Theodore Roosevelt is the only U.S. president with his name in the Boone and Crockett records. And as far as we know, he’s the only hunter to kill a World’s Record with a hunting knife.


On November 6, 1900, William McKinley was elected the 25th president of the United States. Theodore Roosevelt would serve as his vice president until McKinley’s assassination on September 14, 1901. Before being sworn in as vice president, Roosevelt needed an adventure and a little fresh air, far from politics and the East Coast. In January 1901, he left for Meeker, Colorado, to chase cougars for five weeks. He was heading to the White River between Coyote Basin and Colorow Mountain.

Because Science

Roosevelt insisted his hunting expedition was in the name of science. After all, he was collecting cougar and bobcat specimens for Dr. C. Hart Merriam, head of the Biological Survey, now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. To be fair, Roosevelt did turn over the spoils of his hunt to the Biological Survey, including 14 cougar specimens. Dr. Merriam was pleased. “Your series of skulls from Colorado is incomparably the largest, most complete, and most valuable series ever brought together from any single locality and will be of inestimable value in determining the amount of individual variation,” Merriam wrote.

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For his Colorado hunt, Roosevelt chose local hunter and houndsman Peter Goff to guide him. Goff and his dogs were well-known in the tracking business. After 16 years of chasing cougars, Goff had roughly 300 lions to his name. “This was always Roosevelt’s secret as an outdoorsman; he had a genius (and the money) for finding the best hunt guides available for every expedition,” writes historian Douglas Brinkley.


Goff and Roosevelt (right) stand over the first of 14 cougars taken on the trip.

While riding through the pinyons and canyons by horseback, Roosevelt enjoyed watching the hounds work. In writing about his hunt in With the Cougar Hounds, he describes the dogs as he would an old hunting buddy, enamored with the quality of their training, unique personalities—and, of course, their ability to climb trees and latch onto their quarry.

The Hunt

One of the first set of tracks ended when Roosevelt thrust his knife behind the shoulder of the smallest cougar of the hunt. The dogs had subdued an older female cougar that weighed just 47 pounds. As the dogs latched onto the lion with their powerful jaws, Roosevelt finished it. He writes that shooting “would have been quite as dangerous for the dogs as for their quarry.” Roosevelt and Goff took measurements and weighed it. They did this for every specimen, with Roosevelt dispatching several cougars with a jab to the heart.

On February 14, the final day of the hunt, the dogs picked up a fresh scent and ran a huge cougar for at least three hours. It would run up a tree to catch its breath, then climb down to take a few swipes at the dogs and take off with hounds in pursuit. Eventually, they treed it in a pinyon, and Roosevelt broke the cat’s back with a bullet. The cougar fell to the ground and began knocking out dogs as they came within striking distance. One of the dogs grabbed the cougar’s ear and stretched out the cougar’s head. At that point, Roosevelt “drove the knife home.”

At 227 pounds, the cougar was the largest of the expedition. Local ranchhands claimed this was the same cougar that prowled the area for a few years, dining on cattle and a workhorse. Roosevelt was happy. “It would be impossible to wish a better ending to a hunt,” he wrote. Not everyone was impressed.

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The Press Attacks, Then Relents

When the press learned of Roosevelt’s rather grisly exploits, they fabricated stories about the vice-president-elect, replacing cougars with bears and wolves. Political cartoons and even a minute-long film were created with a spectacled Roosevelt impaling wolves with a massive hunting knife. “Stung by caricatures of him in the press as an opportunist and worse, as a conniving, wanton killer, Roosevelt increasingly shied from public view when it came to his hunting…,” writes Ronald Tobias. It appeared that Roosevelt got his feelings hurt. His hunting wouldn’t stay out of the spotlight for long.

In November 1902, the press would have a change of heart thanks to his hunt for black bears in Mississippi. By this point, Roosevelt had been president for more than a year. He enlisted Holt Collier and his hounds, which eventually tracked a black bear to utter exhaustion. Once the hounds subdued and wounded the bear, Collier tied it to a tree and sent for Roosevelt. Upon arriving, the president took one look and the bear and refused to kill it. He ordered the men to put it out of its misery.


The next morning, the press went nuts. The Washington Post ran a front-page story with the headline, “One Bear Bagged. But It Did Not Fall a Trophy to President’s Winchester.” Then followed a political cartoon by Clifford Berryman, which triggered a Brooklyn shopkeeper to ask his wife to make two stuffed bears to display in his shop’s window. The bears were a hit. Roosevelt agreed to the shopkeeper’s request to call it Teddy’s Bear. Today, millions of teddy bears are sold every year, and the hunt also sparked the origins of a fair chase hunt ethic.

As for that massive last-day cougar, it remained the World’s Record for 60 years until it was dethroned in 1964 by a hunter in Utah. Roosevelt’s record still sits in the top 20, perched at number 15 of All-time and tied for second in Colorado. Dr. Merriam was happy, yet again. “The big [cougar] skull is certainly a giant,” he wrote to Roosevelt. “I have compared it with the largest in our collection from British Columbia and Wyoming, and find it larger than either. It is in fact the largest skull of any member of the Felis concolor group I have seen.”


An old score sheet (left) and Roosevelt’s original hunting journal. On February 14, Goff’s dogs tracked and treed the biggest cougar of the trip. Roosevelt appears to have written «shot & knifed him» at the end of the journal entry.



SCORE: 15-12/16 B&C points

LOCATION: Meeker, Colorado

HUNTER: Theodore Roosevelt

OWNER: National Museum of Natural History

DATE: 2/14/1901

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