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Bye Bye Cougars - Here Come the Cleos!

Many years ago, when smoking was more socially acceptable, a cigarette ad told women, "You've come a long way, baby." I always thought that if that's the case, why are they still calling women baby? But it turns out these pseudo-feminist ads of the 1970s were prophetic. We have come a long way, and new studies reflect a radical shift in relationship dynamics.

There is an upward trend of women with more education and earning power than the partners they date or choose to marry. This economic power shift for women has been a long time coming and should be a societal marker that we celebrate. But it is not. Oh no, instead of the country bursting into applause, professional women (of a certain age) are taken down a notch or two every time they get hit with the venomous zinger - COUGAR. Bam. The power of words. In one instant, a woman's accomplishments are completely disregarded so that she is only judged by one thing - her sexuality.

The label Cougar conjures images not of women of merit and achievement, but of fountain-of-youth seeking desperation. "Cougars" are painted as wildcats armed with bottles of Botox, stiletto-stalking the kind of six-pack that doesn't come in a can. What a sexist double standard. You know what they call successful men who keep the company of younger women? "Sir." Or "damn lucky." "Cougar" is never mistaken as a complement. It's a term laced with underlying disrespect and derogatory inferences that minimize and objectify even the most successful of women.

I say enough with the denigrating cougar references. It is time to show women the respect they deserve. I coined a term in my upcoming book, The Real Secrets Women Only Whisper, which I use to describe women who dominate in a relationship through their education, power, or accomplishment. I refer to them as "Cleos." Just like Cleopatra, the magnificent Egyptian queen herself, these powerful women rule. Women have indeed come a long way and modern-day incarnations abound. Famous American Cleos include such powerhouse women as Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Barbara Walters, Kelly Ripa, Paula Deen, Demi Moore, Christine Peters, Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg, Rachael Ray, Tyra Banks, Joan Rivers, Cheryl Tiegs, Halle Berry, Joy Behar and of course, Arianna Huffington. These women deserve our admiration. From bartenders to billionaires, a Cleo can bring home the bacon and share it with anyone she pleases!

Cleos are not cougars on the prowl looking for sex with younger men. Cleos don't have to prowl! Cleos are highly desired - at any age. Cleos don't need a powerful man to boost their self-esteem. Cleos have their own power. There are Cleos living all over the country who bring home the bacon, while their significant others are pouring them a glass of wine after a long day, or packing the school lunches in the morning.

If you are fortunate enough to be a Cleo, there are still some things that will never change. Nobody, not even a Cleo, gets a free pass with men. Oh no, just like the rest of us mere mortals, a Cleo still has to stay on guard and mind her relationship. A Cleo must not make the assumption that because her loved one is fortunate to be with her fabulous self, she can relax and enjoy a relationship on cruise control. A Cleo still has to see that her significant other doesn't feel "less than" significant and seek adoration from a lowly "Weed" (a woman who sleeps with other women's husbands). A Weed will gladly spend the afternoon giving the royal treatment just so that during the middle of a siesta, she can slip out of bed and sneak into Cleo's closet to try on her clothes and count her shoes. (Yes, she really will.) A Cleo must always remember to take time to mind the homefront - and keep a lock on her closet door!

If you are a Weed, or considering becoming one, here's a word of advice: you don't want to tangle with a Cleo. Ever. If you get caught, Cleo will silently destroy you. She will drop your name to her allies and mark you with a Scarlet Letter A. And without Cleo ever having to say another word, the world will show its respect by blocking your advancement. You will wake up one day and wonder why nothing is working in your life - why jobs disappear, why clients disappear, and why men disappear. And as your years waste away, you will eventually figure it out - a Cleo rules - and she never forgets.

As for me, the word cougar is out of my vocabulary. I don't want to hear anymore about them. I'm ready for women to take their rightful place and lead. It's Cleos who will one day take over the world.

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Comment by Mary on February 17, 2011 at 1:47pm

Men aren't interested in or attracted to Oprah, Joy, Whoopi, or Barbara (home wrecker/Weed) Walters. Never were, never will be. As men see it, these women have made a living by brainwashing American women and ruining many relationships with bad advice. My husband likes to point out that while Oprah may talk a lot about marriage and children she isn't married and doesn't have any children. Basically it's a "practice what you preach" argument and it's a fair point to make.


Ladies, if we want respect from men we have to first give it to them. Then we have to earn it from them. They have to earn it too, but remember they don't care nearly as much about getting married or starting a family as we do. They also don't really want us other than for sex. We like to pretend that they do but deep down we know the truth. That's why men don't leave their wife of 25 years for a 60 year old woman. They leave us for 20 year old women.


There's also a big problem with trust is relationships in this country today. Or rather, lack of trust. We say we trust each other but if we really truly do, then why do we sign legal contracts with a man (marriage license)? When I get into a legal contract with someone it's because I don't trust that person. But if we really trust our mates then we wouldn't need or even want that contract because it's a loud statement to the world that while we say we love each other (trust is a big part of love), we really don't.


One reason that men don't trust women is that too many of us enter into a relationship with anterior motives. Many women will trap a man into a loveless relationship in order to get alimony and/or child support. This casts a black cloud on all women, even though the number or women who do this may be very small.


So you can call yourself a Cleo or a Cougar but no one else cares. If you want respect, earn it. If you trust your man, prove it. If you love your man and men in

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