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Why older women are hunting for young men

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If you Google ‘cougars in Kenya,’ you will get at least 384,000 results. Within the first page of your search, you will meet older women who have come out in the open, complete with their pictures to declare they are looking for younger men.

The Kenyan Cougar Organisation Facebook page, for instance, has older women with saucy pictures looking for younger men. Besides, there are many dating sites that specifically advertise cougars, and by their numbers, it must be a popular trend in Nairobi and other towns in Kenya.

A cougar is any woman who aggressively pursues men younger than her (at least eight years younger.) Women in their 40s especially are considered classical cougars when they go after men in their 20s and 30s.

And locally, such relationships are steeped in money for the young man and sexual fulfillment for the older woman. The term ‘cougar’ is believed to have originated in Canada when it appeared on the dating site cougardate.com.

Universities, entertainment gigs, house parties and night clubs are the common hunting ground for cougars. University students are more preferred owing to their intellect, given that some cougars are still searching for children. For university students, life can be challenging especially if a university is located in a city that is fast and flashy as Nairobi.

The surging number of cougars in Nairobi can be attributed to a number of factors, according to Kanguru Mwati, University of Nairobi trained sociologist.
“The city as big as Nairobi offers people anonymity where they can do things that the society frowns upon without the judgmental eyes of those who know them,” he says.

Cougars are women who mostly shattered the glass ceiling in their respective careers, and by the time they climbed the academic, business and career ladders, they had become too old to find suitable mates, the sociologists says. “With their money and independence, their relationships with younger men are more about control. They want to be in charge. Money gives people power and with that. With the cash they can control younger men without money, since they are easy to manipulate.”

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And above all, at their age, in the absence of children and other pressures that compromise their sexuality, they can pursue their sexual urges unencumbered. Social anthropologist, Paul Omondi, warns that such relationships scarcely have happy outcomes. “When they start, often the two individuals may be without any commitment. But with time, one might get too attached and in the event one threatens to leave, the other can do something detrimental, like suicide,” Omondi says.

“Secondly, such women use and dump men. When they find a new catch, they move on quickly. If the young man protests or misbehaves, they are very quick to punish him and can even frame him and have him arrested, given their money and sometimes connections. If the woman is providing and the man uses her wealth to reach out to younger women, the man endangers both his life and the life his young lover. Such cases are common.

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