‘Swofties’: The Latest In ‘Cougar’ Bullshit

swoftiesI’ve always hated the word “cougar.” Not because I don’t adore large cats but because of the additional category of derogatory that women have since been saddled with in the English language. As if women didn’t have enough afflictions of the written word to deal with, from every iteration of the term “slut” to the new array of condescending mommy terms like “helicopter mom.” Well, prepare for another one to add to the list because apparently “swofties” is where we’re going in 2012 — that’s single women in their 50s who do more than continue “a life of babysitting and bingo.”

The Daily Mail, who we shouldn’t cut any slack for despite their flagrant efforts in cementing this type of absurdity, writes:

Ladies, if you’ve turned 50 and are more likely to pick up a pair of leopard-print leggings than a twin-set and pearls, it seems you are not alone.

Mature divorced women are dressing more provocatively than they did in  their teens to attract the opposite sex, research suggests.

Dubbed Swofties – single women over fifty – they are following the example set by celebrities such as Carol Vorderman and Nancy Dell’Olio, both 51.
These ‘flirtatious fiftysomethings’ are likely to be wearing designer clothes, drinking champagne cocktails and going to music festivals.

Apparently the online retailer isme.com discovered that a fifth of women in their 50s are “wearing sexier outfits than when they were younger.” Clearly then, a new trendy terminology, that is both mocking these women and distinguishing them like some sort of bizarre subset of the human species, is in order.

Divorce rates with baby boomers may very well be on the rise here in the states, thereby contributing to an uptick in single older women. But the need to degrade them into one-dimensional flirts who like designer purses and champagne cocktails is something a divorced male in his 50s will never know. That’s because the incessant labeling of women, defined by everything from their parenting styles to their ages, is a privilege we usually and culturally reserve for the ladies.

So enjoy another champagne cocktail swoftie and try not to stumble on the cougars, yummy mummies, MILFs, hipster moms, and tiger moms on your way out.

(photo: ostill/ Shutterstock)

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  • Kasia

    Totally, and I think the problem with labels like this is that it somehow makes it humiliating to get dolled up and be sexy in those years. No one wants to be labeled, and some people will even alter their behavior so as not to be. But altering means we are no longer being ourselves, and no longer on the path towards having our authentic needs met. Which is a life of unhappiness, and ultimately, cruelty towards ourselves (and others). So what can happen then is that a beautiful woman of strong values who wishes to expand the breadth of how she meets her sexual needs is made a laughing stock if she’s to go about the ways she has learned to go about doing so throughout her decades of trial, error, and wisdom-brewing. Another way to shame the fact of aging and the act of sex. Alas, it’s just an illusion. I’ll make an extra point of high-fiving anyone I meet who’s afflicted with this ridiculous label. Thanks for writing this Koa!

    • Kasia

      OK, not sure how the “stars” button works. I give this article many stars!

  • Lastango

    Good piece, Koa. The emotional challenges these women face are daunting enough without being laughed at for trying to find a partner. Here’s how one summed up her situation:
    miss being young and beautiful. I miss being relevant. Women in their (now)
    50′s are invisible to society and to men. I miss being valued.”
    Anyone who thinks that’s probably rare, or not really true, can google “women, 50, invisible” and watch what happens. Ouch. And they don’t just feel ignored by men, they feel ignored by everybody, everywhere they go.

  • http://fairlyodd.net Frances Bean

    I think the most annoying part of this phenomenon is that there are way less of these cutesy names for men.

  • Disappointed Daughter

    So tired of this narcissistic generation of baby boomers. Always needing to “redefine” something. For goodness sakes, look at the amazing blessings of family in your life and give them the same love and support that you got from your parents. Why do you need to relive your youth? I think we should be examining the greater social trend of why grandmothers feel the need to act younger than their own children and the effect this has on said children and grandchildren. Gag.

    • LoveyDovey

      Perhaps it has to do with growing up in the era where the only reason a woman was encouraged to go to college was so they could meet their future husband, where they were expected to stay home with the kids and discouraged from pursuing their dreams and made to feel like bad parents if they weren’t all about their kids and husband 24/7. Being stifled as a person for years, and then ending up divorced or widowed with grown children in a world far different from the one they grew up in, where they actually *have* choices- I can’t say I blame them.

    • Lastango

      “I think we should be examining the greater social trend of why grandmothers feel the need to act younger than their own children and the effect this has on said children and grandchildren.”
      That seems a good question; in “Bobos in Paradise”, David Brooks notes that our society has found was to cultivate opposites and unrealities. For instance, it’s possible — and desirable — to posture, lifestyle-wise, as an antiestablishment rebel while being a corporate executive. We can peacefully buy a costly sport utility vehicle because it lets us pretend it’s somehow about healthy, good things like sport and utility. It’s ok to blow $40k, as long as we spend it on a kitchen, or a trip to somewhere there are primative cultures. We can fake anything, and we’re never going to die (getting old, sick, and then dying is very un-hot). As a consumer culture, Narcissism R Us. And with that, Brooks would argue, comes an obligation to find a place for ourselves by participating in the bobo universe of endless, enriching possibility. Someone who doesn’t is a castoff, worn out, old. Better to shout out, “Hey, look at me… see, I still belong with the rest of you, I’m still worth your time!”

  • canaduck

    Great article!

  • K.

    The undertone of the article is something like, “Oh, isn’t that just pathetic? 50+-year-old women trying to be sexy!” which is both insulting and sad. It’d be nice if women’s identities weren’t always caught up in some assessment of their relative sexuality.

    Now, I’m going to get my fix from the Advanced Style blog as antidote.