I am sixty years old. Yep, although technically I’m ready for the twilight zone to which our culture consigns women who age, I’m damned if I’m going there quietly. It may make some people uncomfortable, but here’s a secret about aging – you just care less and less about the stuff you once thought was important. In fact, you can get positively irreverent.
As the cloak of invisibility descends and tries to drape itself around me, I give it the evil eye, and tell it that it can just bloody well wait until I’m actually dead. I don’t doubt that holding it at bay will take effort and vigilance, though, especially when it’s expected that I will wear it like a well-behaved older woman should. Hah! Chaos and mayhem may not be on my immediate agenda, but neither is being well-behaved according to cultural expectations. Having said that, if chaos and mayhem come knocking, I might just be up for it.
I refuse to buy into the cultural crap which ties up a woman’s value in her sexual currency. I realise that it’s still a pervasive patriarchal principle, but I don’t have to buy it, regardless of popular opinion. I personally don’t feel that my value has waned. Waning value is simply an external evaluation that is traditionally put onto women who age, and bought into by society at large. I feel that life has given me knowledge and experience, increased my sense of self, and allowed me to get over myself and look more outwards. In fact, life has become a lot more interesting, the more I have turned my gaze outward.
We are constantly evolving throughout our lives, and all stages are an escapade of experiences, regardless of age. However, in a youth-centric culture, which seems to have made an alliance with our patriarchal culture, there is only a brief period of time when women are deemed to have ‘peak value’, according to current thinking. What kind of BS is this? It’s ridiculous and demeaning in the extreme – and I was as guilty as the next person at believing it in my youth. It was only as I aged myself, and realised that life doesn’t stop just because it gets decided by others that our sexual currency has waned, that I understood with a kind of awe what a complete and utter tool I’d been.
Engaging in life with a diverse range of people of all ages makes us pull character traits out of ourselves that otherwise might remain stagnant. It helps prevents us from living in a bubble, and being victims to arrested development. Sure, it’s not always easy to mix it up with those who aren’t like us, however, it’s the way to new ideas, creative thinking, agile problem solving, and developing your own unique self. It also makes us our own role models for the world to see how we like to live and be treated. For myself, taking (reluctant) care of my elderly parents forced me to discover things about myself and change in ways that might never have happened. I wouldn’t have believed that they still had stuff they could teach me, if I hadn’t actively been in their aging lives.
So, am I going to graciously fade into older womanhood? Hell, no! It’s clear that I have a duty to show the world the error of their ways in how they treat older women, so that no-one misses out on a vital part of their character development, or the ability to role model themselves to the world. It will be a tough job, but someone has to do it, so I’m coming out of my shell to sacrifice myself for the cause.
I think I’m going to have fun with this.