Yes, Debbie McGee’s high kick on Strictly was great. Yes, it’s brilliant that she is on the telly and doing and learning and showing.
But please, enough with the ‘for her age’.
Seriously?! She’s four years older than me and the same age as my wife. ALL the women I know my age are amazing. We are at the wrong end of boomer to have had the great jobs and the good pensions that some* of our friends ten years older than us have. We are a little younger than our feminist fore-sisters so that by the time the free love and Pill-eased sexuality came to us we were already contending with HIV and AIDS. As young gay and queer women we didn’t have the benefit of the more inclusive LGBTQ gains that have come to fruition in the past decade or so, many of us just missed the lesbian baby boom that the women ten years younger than us enjoyed as it became more possible (technically, legally, practically) for lesbian women to have children. Our growing up, growing into ourselves, the women we are today, has been both hard and hopeful.
We came of age at a time when we needed to be feminist and ladylike and clever and domestic goddesses and working in the world and working in the home and mothers and businesswomen, when we still needed to be thin to be beautiful but with the added pressure of having to be physically strong as well, at a time when whether we liked it or not, whether we could do it or not – society had decided we could, and should, have it all. We truly came of age when we acknowledged that no-one can have it all and that working toward something more inclusive, for all genders, something more inclusive for all society is of greater value anyway.
And yet …
We’re here. We’re really here, no matter that as we age we find ourselves more and more invisible. We are choosing to be the visible women. We’re learning that we can be strong and vulnerable and it’s ok to be both at the same time, to be honest and open about being both at the same time. We are still learning from our mothers and aunts and older sisters, still learning from our younger sisters, our nieces, our daughters and our greats. We are high-kicking and zip-wiring and running firms and loving families and loving friends and trying and failing and trying again and screwing up and succeeding and being teetotal and drinking too much and being tri-atheletes and living vibrant lives as women on the margins and running political parties and running tiny social enterprises and creating, making, always, and we don’t need the sexist ageist crap of ‘for her age’. We’ve had the sexism since before birth and the ageism for the last thirty-odd years and we know we have decades of them both to come and we can spot them a mile away.
We are categorically not ‘good for our age’ – we’re just fucking good, thanks.
ps – thinking about this a bit more, and twitter responses about equally absurd “oh but you don’t look 54/64/74 etc” – it’s all fear really, isn’t it? Fear of aging, fear of losing time, fear of death. Age feels frightening because it reminds us of death (if we’re lucky it will ‘merely’ be age that kills us), it reminds us we’re not here always. We’re not. If we were better at being honest about this, we might be better about welcoming age.
*SOME. Almost never those working in arts and culture and at other societal margins, almost never the women of colour, almost never the working class women, almost never the disabled women, the queer women, but yeah, sure, there are SOME women in their sixties now who are reaping the boomer benefits.
Me (54) and Shelley (58) zip-wiring yesterday to raise funds for Diversity Role Models.