FOXSexpert: Sink Your Teeth Into the 'Cougar'

Cher, Teri Hatcher, Demi Moore, Kim Cattrall, Nicollette Sheridan, Cameron Diaz ... The list of women who have been crowned cougars goes on and on.

Thanks to shows like “Sex and the City” and “Desperate Housewives,” older women are where it’s at when it comes to sex appeal. And these women are working it everywhere.

It used to be that no gal would ever want to be called a “cougar.” A Canadian slang word, it was originally a derogatory term for older women at bars who would go home at the end of the night with any “leftovers.”

So what makes the cougar such a fascinating creature now?

While the term “cougar” is occasionally used for women in their 30s dating men at least eight to 10 years their junior, it typically refers to women over 40 who are:

— Very attractive and in super shape;

— Into working out and staying fit;

— Well-educated and cosmopolitan;

— Confident and empowered, especially when it comes to their sexuality.

In the old days, cougars were known to travel in packs. But these days, they’re venturing far beyond their cougar dens, and quite often solo. They can be found “preying” at the same places younger women do — health clubs, concerts, sports stores, sporting events, bars, grocery stores, home improvement stores. ... And they can be anybody.

According to Ilona Paris, author of “Hot Cougar Sex,” there are four major types of cougars:

Power Cougars — Often sporting a power suit, this highly educated woman needs to be discreet about her trysts, given that she’s often “busting balls” in the boardroom or hanging with the big guys.

Intellectual Cougars — This bright lady is the sort you’ll find reading in a bookstore café, dabbling in philosophical debates or looking to shape society via the media.

Unexpected Cougars — This quiet and demure woman is the sort you’d never expect to seduce someone too young to remember when Madonna was 'like a virgin.'

Divorcée Cougar — Having just gotten out of a marriage that lasted into the double digits, this woman is rearing to go and wants zero attachment.

I’ve also heard of cougars who are of “puma” status. These over-40 women are the Bond girls of cougars: breathtaking beautiful, with sexy foreign accents, wardrobes to die for, and ultra chic.

Yet whether puma or cougar, she seems to have it all, and she knows it. She’s not after attachment. In fact, she quite embraces her status as a single woman. She’s not after money. After all, she’s independent and financially stable.

So what could she possibly want in a younger man? Her hunt is about feeling good, ageless and desirable. She prefers the younger man’s energy, especially that it’s not weighed down by baggage. She’s looking for fun. And best yet, she has no qualms about turning eye candy into arm candy.

She doesn’t care what others think — and neither do what’s come to be known as “cougar hunters.”

These men love that she’s sexy, in control and secure with herself. They’re drawn to her confidence, sexual experience, and sex appeal. They are aroused by the fact that she’s less inhibited and more sexually mature than women their own age. She knows what she wants and likes in bed, and she’s not afraid to show him.

It’s hard to gauge if cougars are a trend or if they’re here to stay. Some people feel that society has made great strides in finally overcoming a dating double standard. Hugh Hefner has flaunted his Playboy bunnies for decades; now she can now have her boy toys, too.

Yet some people still find the “Mrs. Robinson" scenario creepy and not sexy in the least. If you find yourself in that category, you might want to check out Paris’ read.

As a book editor, I have a number of erotica works come my way. And let me tell you, this cougar’s ventures had me fanning myself. Her real life “sexploits” put younger erotica writers to shame.

Sexy or not, the cougar’s purr has become a roar. Entire industries are catering to this feline’s every need, as well as those of her admirers. There are dating Web sites, personals, porn sites, upcoming TV shows ... even Real Cougar Woman Radio — all turning her den into a dynasty.

Flip through any celebrity magazine, and you’ll notice that it’s the over-40 crowd owning the pages. Walk down any street, and you’ll see cougars turning heads. If you're brave enough to play with this cat, know that she adores having her ego stroked. And know that she’ll bite if you ask about her beauty secrets — or her age.

Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."

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