Cougars, Coeds and Chick Lit.

I am here to tell you that I reject the following terms and
will not being using them: Cougars, Coeds and Chick Lit. I invite you all to
join in my campaign.
Cougars.  This has
come into fashion in the last few years, its name even graces(graced) (ahem) a
TV show.  A Cougar is an older woman who
is dating—or married to—a (much) younger man. 
They have now split, but the Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher union comes to
Coeds.  For years, I
read books that included the term Coed and I assumed it meant college student,
either male or female.  I assumed that
once colleges opened their doors to both men and women, the education was
coeducational and thus the students were called coeds.  I can still recall the feeling of horror I
felt my senior year in high school when the sentence structure I was reading
did not support this definition and I was forced to consider that the term only
applied to females.  I refused to believe
this, at first, but double checked with my mother who confirmed the grim news.
Chick Lit.  First of
all, this is an awful term because when it is said it aloud, a large percentage
of people think you are discussing gum (Chiclets) and then there is usually a
weird cognitive dissonance moment.  Chick
Lit is a novel written primarily for women and it usually contains some
elements of a romantic story and happy ending, though it should not be
considered the same as a “romance novel.” 
There is often something of one of these elements:  zaniness, work drama, conversation with best
friends.  Sometimes there is great
tragedy to overcome.
Why do we need to end our use of these terms?  I reject them all because they are all terms
focused on women that have no equivalent
for males.
 What do you call an older
man who dates/marries a much younger woman? 
There is no term, as it is an accepted practice in our society.  If you are channeling your inner frat boy,
you might call the man in question “lucky” and snigger after saying it.  What do you call a male student at a
college?  A student.  There is certainly no term that suggests that
they are added on to the scene and maybe it is okay they are there, they are
pretty and all, but they are not real students.
As for Chick Lit, are there no novels of fluff written for
men?  Of course there are.  What do we call them?  There is no term.  There are many genre specific terms of kinds
of fluff novels that are primarily read by men: 
science fiction, fantasy, spy thrillers, etc.  Though those genre specific books aren’t
looked upon as great literature, they are also not dismissed out of hand with
an overarching title:  Sperm Lit,
Language reflects our values and beliefs and none of these
three terms reflects an equality between women and men we pretend we have in
society.  Granted, our language
concerning gender is at a disadvantage from the get-go as the common terms we
use to describe the not-male part of the population (women, woman, female)
cannot be used without summoning the male part of the species.  Undoing this would be quite a feat and it is
not what I am here to do today.  Today, I
am just asking you to think before you use the above three terms.  If you chose to use them, what are you saying
about women’s place in the world?

2 thoughts on “Cougars, Coeds and Chick Lit.”

  1. I totally agree with all of this and I only wish I had been using these terms to a greater degree so that my boycotting of them now would make a dent!

    But I like how you articulated why these terms are sexist and gross. My least favorite is cougar. I had hoped co-ed had gone out of use by now, but sounds like maybe not. And as for chick-lit, I have probably used it derisively a few times. 🙁

  2. Co-eds are only girls? Really? That is disappointing. I don't think I have ever used co-ed or chick-lit. I guess I have used cougar a bit…not really that much. I will consider and implement your boycott! 🙂

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