I don’t know what happened. I expected to get it in the mail. Where is my invitation to the ball? I get one every year. What has changed? I know I am no longer the ingénue or the belle. Those years are long gone. But I still love to dance and am very skilled in all the steps. I am good at making witty repartee. I would not be a dull partner. Where is my invitation? I noticed that my gentleman neighbor received his invitation and told me he is getting his evening attire out of storage. He doesn’t even know all the dances that I do but it seems he is a more desirable partner. I asked my older woman friend if she got her invitation yet. She told me in a whisper that I should be aware that women of a certain age are invisible to society and must exit the social scene quietly. For heaven sake, don’t make a fuss. Accept the fate assigned to you. Don’t rock the boat. Take up feeding the birds or gardening.
If your over 5o and even starting as early as 35 your prospects of finding a job diminish as you get older. Think this is a fairytale? Watch the PBS video below. Ageism is alive and well. Especially for women. I know it happened to me. From Harvard Business Review, Older Women are Being Forced Out of the Workforce.
The American University of Nigeria is offering full scholarships to some of the girls who escaped from the Boko Haram. This is a very inspiring article from Smithsonian. Margee Ensign is the President of the university and a very courageous woman and native of my state of California. My heart breaks and I am sickened reading about the suffering of these women. I am in awe of their spirit. We can not forget them.
Most older women are not visible in modern media. Women who are aging naturally that is. We don’t see many older actresses and models. Women drop off the radar and start to disappear as they get older. Wouldn’t you like to know more about them? Wouldn’t you like to hear their stories? Who are they? According to Beauty Redefined , in their great post, they have been shunned by main stream media. They have been “symbolically annihilated.”
That sounds like science fiction. Something The Borg would say. “We are The Borg. You have been symbolically annihilated. Resistance is futile!” But looks like it is not science fiction. If you are an older woman you will not see yourself in popular magazine ads, in Hollywood films or on TV. Unless you have had a lot of “work done” to make you look much younger. There may be a few token older women on display but they are in the minority. Kind of like endangered species in the zoo.
Then there are all the negative messages for women about letting yourself look your natural age. Messages bombarding us about anti-wrinkle creams, botox, hair color, diets, and plastic surgery.
“What would happen if confident, happy, beautiful women decided to forego painful and expensive anti-aging procedures, breast lifts and enhancements, liposuction, all-over hair removal or tanning regimens? How could that change the way their daughters, students, friends, nieces and coworkers perceived themselves and their own “flawed,” lined, real faces? How could simply owning (and treating kindly and speaking nicely about) our so-called “imperfect” bodies affect not only our own lives, but those over whom we have influence? Is it possible to slowly but deliberately change the perception of these “flaws” as something to shame, hide and fix at any cost to something acceptable and embraceable in all their human, womanly real-ness?” (Beauty Redefined)
Yes what would happen? The “beauty” industry would self-destruct. I do like to be optimistic, enthusiastic, and hopeful about change. I think I can imagine the change beginning. I think I hear it. Robotic voice in background, “The self-destruct sequence is initiated….”
A woman I know wears a thin gold chain around her waist, under her clothes, with a charm bearing the inscription Priceless. It drives men crazy, she tells me. Small wonder. They love to be reminded of what they already know, since we live in a world that constantly denies it. She wears the chain, she says, in such a way that the charm falls perfectly across a certain female charka, as it were, which reminds her constantly of her inestimable value.–Marianne Williamson
Marianne Williamson is an American author and spiritual teacher. She has published 10 books including 4 New York Times best sellers. “A Woman’s Worth” is one of her books. I have not read any of her books so I can not personally endorse any of them. This quote appealed to me because I like quotes that empower women.
In addition to writing books she founded Project Angel Food in Los Angeles which is a meals on wheels service for people suffering with AIDs. She works in organizations to eliminate poverty, promote peace, and support women who wish to pursue political candidacy.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
I have been discouraged at times when I read that some women today think it is a negative thing to be a feminist. I have thought about writing more about it. Just recently my husband’s aunt sent me some historical photos that inspired me to write this post.
It is important for young women today to be aware of the history of women’s rights in the United States. We didn’t have the right to vote until 1920. Women struggled for many years to win that right. When our country was founded women did not have the right to own property.
When the Women’s Liberation Movement started women were blocked from all kinds of jobs considered only suitable for men. There were very few women doctors or lawyers. Women were not even allowed to run in the Boston Marathon. Here is some biographical info, from her website, on Kathrine Switzer the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon who the officials at that time tried to drag off the race course. “ Kathrine Switzer will always be best known as the woman who, in 1967, challenged the all-male tradition of the Boston Marathon and became the first woman to officially enter and run the event. Her entry created an uproar and worldwide notoriety when a race official tried to forcibly remove her from the competition. The photo of this confrontation flashed around the world.” Can you imagine that, it makes me nauseated, an official tried to drag her off the race course. It was during and after the 70s that we had the first women astronauts, more women in medical and law school, and women in leadership positions in business and politics. None of this would have happened without this struggle.
During this time of the Women’s Lib Movement, some women refused to wear bras and would burn bras during demonstrations. This was because bras were thought of as uncomfortable male inventions to make women’s breasts attractive to men. That is how the feminists were labeled “bra burners.” Women started to learn about their own bodies, some learned to do their own pelvic exams, and to request plastic speculums which were not as hard and cold as metal ones. Women asked to keep their feet down on the exam table instead of propped high up in uncomfortable metal stirrups. Women wanted to give birth on comfortable beds, or in water instead of in a surgical style delivery room with their feet in those metal stirrups.
I read about women’s history in my American History class in college and remember what an eye opener it was and how I admired so much the suffragettes and other women pioneers for freedom. One was Elizabeth Blackwell who was the first American woman MD. When she applied to medical school the dean and faculty put her application up to a vote by the other 150 male students. They thought it was joke and voted to accept her.
I read the book Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan and Sexual Politics by Germaine Greer. Betty Friedan talked about how women in the 50s who, although college educated, were encouraged to stay at home in the suburbs and were finding something missing from their lives, (like intellectual stimulation). Women started to question these prescribed roles they were assigned to.
I am grateful that as a young woman I was exposed to these ideas and had women leaders to look up to like Gloria Steinem. Many people may not know that Gloria Steinem once had a job as a Playboy Bunny. She did an undercover assignment, as a reporter, at a Playboy Club in New York. There was later a movie made about this episode in her life. She is quoted in an article in the New York Times that at that time, when she did this reporting, she was not yet aware of her feminism. Playboy was a popular magazine for young men and the Playboy Club was very popular. The “bunnies” ,(waitresses), wore these low cut costumes, high cut at the bottom, with bunny ears, a puffy white tail and high heels. These were some of the role models women had then. Films usually portrayed women in very confined roles as well. A popular film in the 60s was Goldfinger which introduced the “The Bond Girls.” It is now known that the writer, Ian Fleming , of the James Bond series was a misogynist. But when the first movies came out the James Bond character was very popular. James Bond is portrayed as less sexist in recent years. I remember seeing the movie Goldfinger as a teenager. The leading female role was a character named Pussy Galore. I remember thinking that I did not want to identify with her or be like her. I think many young guys did want to be like James Bond. I always liked strong, independent women characters. I recommend that if you are not knowledgeable about your history that you read up on it. When Women’s History courses were first introduced many feminists wanted them to be called “herstory.”
Bessie Coleman, First African American Woman Pilot
Shannon Lucid Astronaut 1978
Sally Ride Astronaut
Betty Friedan 1960
Susan B. Anthony 1855
Gloria Steinem 2011
Katherine Switzer Boston Marathon
Annette Kellerman Swimsuit she designed was considered indecent
Bella Abzug Congresswoman from New York 1970s
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Elizabeth Blackwell MD Stamp
Jacqueline Cochran Pioneer of Aviation
Patsy Mink Congresswoman from Hawaii
US Representative Barbara Jordan Texas 1973
Gloria Steinem on being a Playboy Bunny via You Tube by hudsonunionsociety:
As one who lived during the beginning of the women’s liberation movement and civil rights movement, I have been complacent in thinking, ” well that’s done.” Thinking that these changes were made permanent and all is right in the world.
Like with our American Bill of Rights, I now realize we must be ready to fight these battles over and over.
I have thought younger women who minimize the contributions of the feminist movement have been naïve and ignorant in their comprehension of what actually happened back then. That much of the freedom and opportunities that women enjoy today can be attributed to that time. As women’s right to vote can be credited to the efforts of the suffragettes.
We need to be aware of and appreciate our own history.
In recent years, I have become more and more aware that the enemies of women’s freedom were not truly vanquished but retreated for a time to their dens or in some places never retreated at all.
Smoke has been seen rising from Mount Doom. The forces of evil are awake in the world.
When I read their poisonous rantings and comments degrading women for daring to speak out and have an opinion or hear about the horrid oppression of women and girls in other places in the world I am sickened.
I realize that I can not be complacent. The creature is still out there lurking and leaving a slimy trail.
“Trolls” Photo by Tristan Schmurr
I was inspired to write this post in response to an article in the New Yorker about Mary Beard, entitled “The Troll Slayer.” And because I have become aware more and more of all the misogyny and ageism in the world.
I am sure many of you have seen this movie but if not I highly recommend it. I watched it again last night with my husband. Love it!! The main character and heroine Ana is played by America Ferrera. She is beautiful, smart, and has curves. She is struggling to be an independent and modern woman.
Her mother, who is played so well by Lupe Ontiveros, has traditional values and thinks it is Ana’s duty to stay home with her family, lose weight so she can find a boyfriend, get married and have children as soon as possible.
Ana has dreams of college but is unsure it is a possibility for her because her family is poor and no one in her family has gone to college. Her High School teacher, Mr. Guzman, played by George Lopez, works hard to encourage her. Will she pursue her own dreams or give in to what her mother wants? Ana’s boyfriend is played by Brian Sites. He does a great job as the sweet, supportive classmate and friend of Ana.
The very positive message of this film is to believe in yourself and that real, beautiful, and smart women do have curves.