Men do not catcall me anymore, and I’m delighted to have aged out of that, even though several of my buddies are not. My little girl is grown, so the momma wars rage on without me. I’m now delighted to be self-employed– an escape hatch from office sexism that is not available to all women, and one that I fully treasure. I charge what I want as a professional and will never again come across data at the office that a male co-worker who is much younger, less informed and less seasoned than me makes more bucks than me merely because he comes from the penis-owning sex. I am not beyond the tangible and sexual dangers all women live with, but they have declined a bit for me at this stage of my existence.
All this freedom, however, is not totally freeing. I have basically been moved into the future stage of chauvinism that comes along with middle age, and it’s a dramatic adjustment well illustrated metaphorically by female physique that is eyed and objectified transforming into the woman body that is unnoticeable. If the loudest and most declared voices of contemporary womanism most often belong to the youngest and most sexually attractive women, is this not a sanctimonious duplication within feminism of what takes place in our fatherlike community at large?
I’m looking at perhaps three more years of my life that will be shaped to some extent by not only misogyny, but by the intersection of misogyny and ageism. That’s a whole bunch of years I never gave the slightest thought to when I was younger. No aging woman ever demanded that I think about the fact that it would subsequently happen to me. No one asked that I appreciate it, react to it, and acknowledge the unfairness of what can often seem like a one-way feminist street. I momentarily stopped the approaching freight train of ageism right in its tracks with my indifference, like everyone else my age did. Even in my late-30’s, midlife appeared to be light years away. I did not read information such as this. They were not pertaining to me.
When I remember how I thought about middle-aged and more mature women when I was much younger, I realize I bought into American stereotypes and did so mindlessly. I credited older women a lack of importance and a failure to add meaningfully to a world and a dialogue that was not “theirs,” as if ownership of culture rationally belongs to any specific age group over others. My ideas stemmed from where? Tv? Motion pictures? Newsletters? How ridiculous.
Must this training only be learned woman by woman, with the transition of time, and not by perspicacious use of ones eyes and perceptions? Because women like me are writing and discussing. Trees in the woodland are dropping. I ask that young women hear. Selective deafness will not halt the train. It will continue rolling down the track, silently and dispassionately. It regularly arrives.
For me, aging as a woman in The United States is much less about grievances done to me than it has to do with a subtle undermining of my place within this community and a not-so-subtle disrespect that appears more with each passing year. For example, if I disapprove of pornography as systemically harmful to women, it is my age that prompts my labeling as a prude and a pearl-clutcher. It can not be that I base my opinion on studies and statistics and the awareness that womanism is a movement– one that supports the liberation of all women, not to remain confused with individual women who decide to reduce their identities to the sexual uses and abuses of their bodies, calling that empowerment. My age sets me up for a sort of ridicule only partially experienced by younger women with the same views. The wisdom that comes along with age has little value to anyone but those owning it, considering that foresight is another word for old, and old is what nobody wants to be.