The Style section of the New York Times is always on the prowl for the latest and greatest in social "trends" which, more often than not, are evidenced by a few friends of the writer doing something and the writer declaring a national movement.
Such is the case with Thursday's piece attempting to humanize cougars, or older women who pursue younger men. CSI: Miami also recently ran an episode that highlighted rich women who threw parties for younger guys; in this episode, the jealous (and cheating himself, of course) husband of the cougar-ringleader kills a bunch of scrumptuous college volleyball players through typically complex CSI: Miami methods, in this case a golf club tied to the top of a lifeguard stand that created an electrical charge in the sand volleyball court through some kind of blue crystals that conducted electricity up through the players' bare feet.
Those cougars! Causing death and destruction wherever they go to satisfy their desperate, feline need for sex!
On a serious note, though, whether there is a "national trend" of older women going for younger guys or not, many researchers (including my pal Mark Regnerus, of "younger marriage is A-ok fame") are concerned about the game-changing implications of higher numbers of educated, high-earning women who don't actually need a man to take care of them anymore.
Frankly, I think it stands to reason that if a woman doesn't need a man for financial support and knows full well that she'll have to take care of a man regardless of his age, why not go for someone young? If the woman wants to have children, the genetic material of a younger guy is going to be stronger and the man more, you know, pliable.
The article says:
Same-age men are usually intimidated by women who are more well educated and earn more money so it totally makes sense that women would go for younger men, who are enamored with older women's confidence, success, and ability to say "do this, not that" which women their own age may not be comfortable doing. Maybe it's a Mrs. Robinson fetish that only a few women (and young men) share, but it seems a reasonable strategy to respond to society's gender role card shuffling.
Economics is also a key factor. Both women and men, particularly as the wage gap has narrowed, are growing more comfortable with the possibility that she is the higher earner, sociologists say. And while she may not want to take a slacker under her wing, she is less likely to be focused on the status of her partner than women of previous generations.
And, really, if it adds up to more hot sex for more people, who's complaining?