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Calling Cougars, Crones and Women of a Certain Age

09/03/2013 04:36 pm ET | Updated Nov 03, 2013

What do you call women who are not young anymore but not yet old? (Not Mom or Ma'am; I mean as a group.)

I started wondering about this when we created WHOA! network (Women Honoring our Age) a few months ago. Our premise is that women should be honored MORE as we age, not less; and we couldn't decide what words would best describe our community.

For a large segment of women over 50, none of the wording fits: not just our age but the age we're living in.

I think it's time to change the words to fit the changes in us.

Women are living longer and stronger, we're active, vital, productive way into our sixties and seventies and beyond.

So midlife doesn't quite cut it.

The icons of this age range -- Hillary Clinton, Meryl Streep, Oprah -- all are chronologically well past "midlife" but all are certainly still in the middle of things.

Yet how would you categorize their stage of life?

Though some women are adopting this word, who really wants to be called a crone
Way too grim. Way too Grimm.

And don't get me started on being called seniors. (Although I'm not above getting a senior discount at the movies.)

Women of a Certain Age?

Urban dictionary says this is an ironically polite term for a woman who does not want her actual age known.

So maybe it should really be women of uncertain age?

I did some checking on this expression and its use. According to The New York Times, the roughly defined age range is creeping upwards, but today even Madonna wouldn't qualify.

The origin of this quaint phrase was femmes d'une certaine age. Being French, of course, it originally had a sexual connotation: describing older women who (presumably graciously and gracefully) initiate younger men into sexual activity.

So don't we have a modern spin on that now, in English?

Maybe we all should be called cougars?

Before you diss or dismiss this, think about it: cougars are part of the cat family and cats have nine lives. Not a bad metaphor for women of this age who reinvent their lives so often.

And since the original sexual connotation of woman of a certain age is now overlooked or forgotten, maybe someday if all women in this age range are known as cougars, people will forget how it started.

Plus, cougar has a strong powerful connotation, which is how many women feel at this time of life: powerful, resilient, reinvigorated.

I think the word or words that categorize us should reflect that.

So if we don't adopt cougars, how about coming up with our own words?

I'll start:

WOWs (acronym for Women of Wisdom)
Primers
Alphas
Pro-agers
Golden Girls (GG's for short? )

I can practically hear the groans at that last one.

So how about some of your ideas in the comments?

Darryle Pollack is the co-founder of WHOA! Network, which showcases cougars, crones, and all women of a certain age.