It’s hard to not to feel that this new tag also has a judgmental edge to it, with little of the cache given to attractive older men.In fact, only younger women who are dying their hair gray seem to rate silver vixen, a direct equivalent to the clearly complimentary silver fox.
But it’s TV (quite surprisingly) that shows the most extreme track record at both ends of the continuum.This isn’t just PBS documentaries or high-end cable dramas either, but mainstream broadcast TV.Not so much for all those apparently bitchy women….Given this overall trend, which has been quite dominant in the media in spite of the inroads feature films have made, perhaps the cougar thing is just an extension of perceived bitchiness to new territory.) who hold a deep sense of being desirable or talented regardless of societal expectations.
But for older women who are still vulnerable to outer judgment — particularly in regard to their employability and lovability– it’s just another load added to the already considerable baggage they carry about who and what they are expected to be at this point in their lives.
More recently, consider the still hot-to-trot Formans on "That 70’s Show." Television has been remarkably willing and able to reflect the reality that women who are secure (even if they are showing their age or were never starlet pretty to begin with) can and do find partners at any age. The TV images of middle-aged women and men, whether in couples or on their own, have slipped a long ways back into narrowly defined stereotypes in the last few years, along with everyone and everything else, it seems. The current one — which in contrast to the perfect family fantasies of previous decades, features men who are all innocent, childlike, bacon-eating machines and women who are all conniving bitches — seems driven by a desire for a more predictable world where it’s easier to accept a slapped on label than actually build an identity of your own.
And that not every older man (except, perhaps, Hollywood producers? At least, that might be the goal for the wannabe innocent guys.
Yet right beside the more expected fare have been shows right at the other end: consistent, believable portrayals of happily married, still sexually active older couples.
Roll back to the 70’s to find character actor, Nancy Walker, as the beloved wife of rather fetching Harold Gould on "Rhoda" in stark contrast to her daughters (Rhoda and the future voice of Marge Simpson) who struggle to find partners.
Also read: Why Can't Hollywood Handle Older Women and Sex?