Earlier today, we learned that Kim Cattrall nixed a hackneyed cover-photo concept involving posing with a cougar — and that the magazine, which the actress calls "a significant magazine for women over 40," nixed her cover in response.
"I really take umbrage to the code 'cougar'," says Cattrall. "I think cougar has a negative connotation, and I don't see anything negative about Samantha and her sexuality, sensuality and choice. I don't think she stands or sits in bars waiting for young men to prey on. And I think that's something that people who are uncomfortable with strong women have labeled her."
Whatever one thinks of the character of Samantha Jones and whether or not the show's depiction of a sex-positive, middle-aged PR executive anticipated the more recent "cougar" vogue, we can pretty much agree that the whole cougar trope is a pretty sexist stereotype. Cattrall says the magazine that wanted her asked her "to pose with a cougar, and I refused to do it because I felt it was insulting. They took away the cover because I refused to do so."
While the actress wouldn't name the magazine, she had to know that because there are so few titles aimed at women in that age group, figuring out which one this is should be a cinch. (For once, ageism and sexism are making my job easier! Ha, ha, oh...) Let's review the possibilities:
Are you kidding? Oprah has to be on every cover of O. Oprah only shares her covers with things she likes: puppies, elaborately decorated cakes, the color red, the First Lady, and, occasionally, her gay BFF. And though we'd kind of love to see a cover involving Kim, Oprah, and a live cougar, we are pretty sure that would never happen.
Redbook calls itself "for the woman juggling family, career and her own needs." You know those women and their juggling! Redbook is a little more given to the kind of hacky concept that Cattrall mentioned, but a search for "cougar" on its homepage unearths this gem from 2008. An anonymous dating blogger (who, incidentally, seems to be in her late 20s) was hit on by a younger guy at spin class, and, like, OMG, does that make her a Puma? ("Pumas, in case you hadn't heard, are the daughters of Cougars — the women who aren't quite Cougar age but are still older than the guy and tend to be settled in their adult lives and jobs.") So, minus five points for indulging patently idiotic terminology. Plus three points for the writer's conclusion: "Isn't it sort of demeaning that we call ourselves and other women that?" A spokesperson for Hearst says, "It was not Redbook." But would they admit it if it were?
No. Just no. Can't be. A cougarlicious Kim Cattrall cover would hardly sit well with the lineup of Laura Bush, Paula Deen, and hideously-Photoshopped Michelle Obama covers the editors have planned for the rest of the year. Good Housekeeping is the magazine where you read about how to bake low-fat snickerdoodles, not about how to be a "cougar."
More bills itself as "For Women 40-Plus," which Cattrall's phrasing strongly echoes. Coincidence? But it would be uncharacteristically low-brow for a magazine whose mission is to be "the leading voice of women enjoying the richest years of their lives," to employ such an insulting — not to mention cliché — cover concept. A spokesperson told us, "More's not going to comment on this one." So the magazine is not denying the allegation? "Exactly." Sounds like we have a winner.
Odds: Off the chart