The dating website CougarLife.com has done it again. This time, instead of just sexualizing older women, now they are sexualizing breastfeeding mothers and their babies with this billboard that went up (and quickly down) last week in L.A.
CougarLife.com likes to claim that it's breaking the "double standard" regarding women's freedom in choosing dating partners, but for years, the website and it's parent company, Avid Life Media, have been pretty transparent in reinforcing media double standards by only sexualizing women in their marketing campaigns.
Avid Life markets their dating sites as "a network of targeted niche brands with highly engaged users."
Highly engaged "users" is pretty accurate. Their other ventures include dating sites for "Princesses" looking for a "Sugar Daddy," and married people looking to cheat on their spouses.
Avid Life's founder is Noel Biderman, former lawyer and sports agent, who proudly wears the titles "The King of Infidelity" and "The Most Hated Man on the Internet."
No matter whom the dating site is geared towards, Avid Life's marketing materials feature women in sexualized poses. Case in point, Avid Life advertises young women looking for older men with...sexy pictures of young women--correction, make that "girls." And Avid Life advertises older women looking for younger men with...uh...sexy pictures of older women, "cougars."
What was that about challenging double standards? If they are sincere in being consistent in their treatment of men and women, shouldn't there be pictures of hot young men in their underwear on the "Cougar" dating site?
Avid Life likes to have media polished women front their websites (former strippers and models) as the official "founders" and "CEOs," but I'm not buying it.
What makes their marketing strategies even more transparent in their universal sexism is how on the "Sugar Daddy" website, young women are encouraged to lose their loser, young, slacker boyfriends and find a real man of substance (older and richer), yet on CougarLife.com older women are told to drop the ego drama and relationship baggage of older men for the carefree vitality, fun and sexual prowess of younger men!
Which is it, Mr. Biderman? Are younger men a nightmare or the jackpot? Are older men damaged goods or erudite benefactors?
The answer is...neither. Because these "dating" sites are bogus money makers that exist to pimp women and exploit men's libidos by promising them pornified tropes of fictionalized archetypes.
What's even more disturbing is marketing sexually confident, enpowered women as "predatory." Women who are sexually knowledgable, comfortable, and open lead happy, healthy lives as the sexual equals of their partners. Characterizing confident women as "hunters" reinforces the obsolete and dangerous idea that human sexuality requires a "predator" and a "prey," which creates a cultural climate that contributes to sexual assault as well as unsatisfying, dysfunctional consensual sex.
It's a shame, too. Because the internet could be very useful for older women and younger men who have transcended ageist and sexist prejudice to find each other and romance. Goodness knows, those evolved women and men are still the minority and the internet is the perfect venue for outliers of any kind to find each other.
But "Cougar" dating sites and Facebook pages (often programmed by men) aren't progressive--far from it. They're regressive, reinforcing outdated gender tropes. The marketing strategy of sexualizing women has made them virtually useless to real women looking for respect in their dating life.
Several years ago, I tried using "Cougar" dating sites. But, my experience has been similar to a woman named Vianne, who posted this review of CougarLife.com on DateSphere.com, an independent website where people can submit their reviews of dating websites.
"After creating a profile, I received many flirts and messages from cute guys aged 27-40. Only 2 resulted in actual dates. Within a year, the rest were either sketchy guys that don't want to meet, or mere pervs emailing lewd photos of themselves."
So, one clever male entrepreneur has succeeded in hijacking the branding of an entire generation of confident, empowered, older women, making a name for his company with shock advertising pornifying women, like this image that was posted on the CougarLife Facebook page.
I'm not sure what the "attitude" is supposed to be in this photo. "I am sexy because I showed you my dismembered legs in a crotch shot while wearing "f*ck me" pumps?" And, no, it's really not important for me to have a face, let alone a brain.
Until we have a safe, respectful place for older women and younger men to meet online that reflects our evolving gender roles, my advice to older women and younger men on finding romance is--get off the internet and get into life.
More CougarLife.com marketing that pimps older women for profit.
"Cougars wanna please, we don't like to tease.
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