I used to get tons of junk e-mail to my personal Yahoo! account and I finally changed my address a few years ago. Given that my work e-mail is published in the paper and online daily, I get tons of e-mail that should probably be classified as junk.

Occasionally, however, I’ll get a mass-mailed press release that’s fairly amusing and this week did not disappoint.

“First ever international cougar cruise!” the subject line read.

Suddenly, I’m envisioning a modern day Noah’s Ark with lions, tigers and bears running amuck. Out of curiosity, I click on the message.

“2009 is the Year of the Cougar,” declares the press release. So in honor of this, a well-known cruise line was going to offer a three-day cruise where cougars (older women who are attracted to younger men) and their cubs (younger men who are attracted to older women) can safely mingle.

Interesting.

The release goes on to say that age discrimination is the most pervasive prejudice in the states and the cruise is long overdue.

I agree that we, as a society, generally tend to write off older members of our society as being past their prime and no longer productive. Older, experienced workers are often “let go” and replaced by younger, less experienced workers who are willing to work for less in order to get their foot in the door.

Admittedly, there does seem to be a double standard with the dawn of the cougar. Older women seen as nurturing their cubs is a stark contrast to the stereotypical dirty old man preying on younger, impressionable women.

I don’t know what the age difference is between a cougar and a cub, but traditionally, it is much more acceptable for a woman to be romantically involved with a man just a few years older than she is rather than the other way around. But do we really need a “cougar cruise?” Is the “single’s cruise” just too generic?

I am a big cruise fan, but if you’re interested in this cruise, you’re just going to have to Google to find out more - unless the cruiseline decides to send me free tickets to the cruise of my choice.

Whitney White-Ashley is a staff writer at the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached by e-mailing whitney.ashley@empiretribune.com.