Flutterby™! : Aging as a woman.

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Aging as a woman.

2002-11-22 19:19:20+00 by Diane Reese 4 comments

This might not be a typical subject for Flutterby: maybe it belongs on my own weblog instead. But if you haven't already listened on NPR to Marion Winik's absolutely brilliant piece on aging as a woman in the US today, here's the RealAudio link (or an extended written version, if you prefer to avoid RA; her voice makes it real, though, and it's been edited for the radio and conciseness). I assure you that every word she speaks, she speaks for me.

My invisible face, the face of my consciousness, is still the smooth one. If I look too long, this new face will stick.

And when you're done, go read a poem called Warning, and then let's talk about it. (Dan, did you ever wonder why I wear so much purple these days?)

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-11-22 22:19:36+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think this is perfect for Flutterby. Hope others agree.

In my reading, the pieces boiled down to two paragraphs:

Which brings us to the saddest part. The organizers and judges of this pageant -- it's not like they're all men. They're women, too. They are me and you, sister. Women do it to each other, and we do it, most cruelly and most often, to ourselves.

So if becoming an official Old Lady is the one way out of being a contestant, it's also your big chance to get off the judges' panel. You no longer have to decide whether you look "all right," you no longer have to answer that question with a resounding no or a tense, shaky yes. You're no longer a loser by your own pre-emptive decision. Old Ladies cannot lose.

I hate "maturity" as a euphemism. Modern Maturity always seemed a grab for power, as though the geriatric voting block somehow had a lock on wisdom. So its with some trepidation that I suggest that we replace "Old" in the paragraph above with "Mature".

Which kind of brings me back to the first paragraph I quoted. Nobody oppresses like the oppressed. It takes a certain maturity to detach from the politics of feeling judged, and then passing along that judgement, and rather than labeling that "old" I'd rather call it "mature".

#Comment made: 2002-11-22 23:16:35+00 by: Tyler

Thank you. I needed to read something like this right now. :0 tyler

#Comment made: 2002-11-23 00:17:12+00 by: meuon

I liked 'I shall wear Purple' - Thanks.

#Comment made: 2002-11-25 17:14:19+00 by: other_todd

Ah, the famous purple poem. Actually, purple is a good "f**k you, world" color to wear at any age. I'm no anarchist but there are times when I realize why my friend Francis always wears loud ties and loud shirts, even though he knows perfectly well that they're loud. I lack that courage.

Diane, I want you to know that I am not in any way disagreeing with you, but I humbly suggest that though it IS indeed tougher for women - what with all the societal and media reminders that they No Longer Make The Cut - getting old is no picnic in this society for any of us. I linked to an article some time back about how old people, when surveyed, rarely self-categorize as "old," and why should they? Being "old" has utterly zero benefits in a society that doesn't respect its aged, and a hell of a lot of disadvantages.

It seems a damned shame, but I don't know how to correct it ... and I find myself here at thirty-four, dreadfully afraid of aging because I know the clock is ticking toward the time when the world will put me out on the curb with the trash, but not sure how to fight back against that trend.