Irony. It's so tricky. For instance, at some point long ago, we started saying "like" ironically, because it was funny. But eventually, it just became the way we talked, and now we'd probably need to hire the guy who made Matt Damon South African for Invictus if we really wanted to stop saying it. In kind of the same way, Pabst Blue Ribbon became a beer people actually just drank, and those horrible puffy eighties retro sneakers became a look again. We think something similar might have happened in Spencer Morgan's story in today's Observer, about a species of woman called the "cheetah," a (slightly!) younger cousin of the cougar whose mating ritual consists of getting her "victim" drunk, having sex with them, then pathetically hoping for a relationship. In it, Morgan quotes three male bloggers who we know to be perfectly nice, charmingly nerdy dudes, sounding, as one of them, Deadspin editor AJ Daulerio warned in advance on his Twitter page, "semi-scumbaggy."
It's more like fully scumbaggy, actually:
“A cock loiterer is typically a girl who has recently come out of a relationship that she’s been in for a long time, and she suddenly realizes that getting laid is not as easy as it once was,” Mr. Daulerio explained. He noted that the cheetah hunts alone, and prefers gatherings where she can blend into the crowd until the quarry grow weak and sloppy. “You know, she’s the type who’ll come out to the sports bar for Sunday football and then, whereas most people will leave after the 12 o’clock game ends, she’ll stick around for the 4 o’clock game,” he said.
New-media mogul and man-about-town Lockhart Steele is part of that friend group. He rightly pointed out that the cheetah isn’t just looking for whatever carcass she can haul out of the bar — incidentally, cheetahs are one of the few animals that will not eat carrion — but rather it is about women past the first flush of youth wanting to date or at least fuck “above their station.”
“Women in New York tend to be at a huge disadvantage,” said John Carney, of Businessinsider.com and another cheetah victim, via Gchat. “Many moved here from elsewhere, severing the kind of social bonds that ordinarily would provide introductions to potential mates. The cheetah is an ill-conceived attempt to overcome this situation.” He added later: “It is tragic. They should put a warning in cabs, like they used to about seat belts and remembering to collect your belongings: ‘This random hook-up will not likely lead to a relationship. Please exit the cab with all your dignity.’”
Yeesh. But wait: Should we really get upset about this? As Gawker already pointed out, the story is preposterous on its face. It's intended to get people riled up. That is — DUH — the point, because how else do you get your inky words read in this day and age? Plus this is New York and we're all friends and smart people, none of whom actually believe that women over 25 are disgusting, that any woman who wants sex is disgusting and creepy, and that the only acceptable heterosexual relationships are those that occur between older guys and younger passive gorgeous women who acquiesce when pursued but make no further demands. And come on, ladies, you can't get upset about quotes from those guys, above. I mean, look at them. And Carney and Spencer Morgan are married with kids and their wives are totally laughing at this, honest, they're not at home worrying what will happen to her when she "enters the saber-toothed stage."
Or are they? Because the thing is, like with all humor, the thing that makes this story "funny" is that it is so close to the truth. The people in the piece are real: limpid -eyed "Dana," the cheetah who "was notorious for looking dreadful without her makeup on." We live in a world where the president for National Organization for Women just spoke out against a tax on plastic surgery that could help fund national health care because she honestly believes it will disadvantage older women who are trying to get jobs, for the love of god. Dudes — all of us supposedly smart people, in fact — should think about being a little more careful about this stuff. Like AJ's unfortunate mustache in the above photo, it might be meant ironically, but eventually it just becomes your look.