Really I don't have time for this. I have a book to write, Travis has asked for a Rasputin story with Nefilim in it and I'm thrilled to oblige, because seriously, what historical fantasy author can resist writing Rasputin into a story? No one, because the bloody thing writes itself.
Yet this morning, as I'm browsing online, I find this tweet:
My synapses fired one profanity-laced thread, and then a second, less profanity-laced thread, and I still haven't come down from it all.
Women in America are valued for our beauty, not our intellect. Once our beauty fades, we're likewise supposed to vanish from sight. If you want a good example of how older women are perceived, just check out almost any Disney movie. While some of the more modern ones show older women in more benign roles, most show older women are portrayed as jealous of younger women's youth (Snow White), or the evil manipulator of youthful ambition (The Little Mermaid). We're perceived as always seeking a way back to our younger days as if those days were so grand.
In reality, a lot of us are more like Antiope. We're comfortable in our own skin. We don't feel the need to paint our faces and dye our hair. Cultural assumptions, however, push us from sight. How many movies are about older women? How often do you see a female white-haired newscaster or senator? Men aplenty, but women? All dyed and coiffed and made up to look twenty years younger.
Magazine photos are the worst. Older women are so photo-shopped free of wrinkles, they look like they've been Botoxed to death. They're bloated caricatures of themselves, because God forbid a younger woman see a beautiful older woman.
The only mature women we are allowed to see are models, who "aged well," meaning their skin isn't wrinkled and they're highly photogenic. In the U.S., aging well is all about women and looks.
Yet we're here and we're all beautiful in our own way, and we're no longer shutting ourselves away. I'm proud of my silvering hair, and I've earned every wrinkle. My crepey skin shows you I have spent my days in the sun, enjoying life. The bags under my eyes tell you I still have cares and sleepless nights, but the experience of my years means I have found ways to cope.
I love being with older women for their knowledge and wisdom, but also because they are fit and strong in mind and body. When my confidence lags, they are there to tell me that I've survived and that I will survive again. They shore me up with their wisdom and their mettle.
Mary Beard, Judith Tarr, Vonda McIntyre, just to name three, are all older women who paved the way for women like you and me to enter our fields. We shouldn't shut them away or hide them from sight. We owe them our gratitude and to keep them in the light while also recognizing the younger talent coming into our respective fields. We can do both.
In fact, we must do both, because when you erase older women from your stories, your productions, your films, you're telling younger women they don't exist after age fifty, or they turn into wretched jealous creatures, who seek nothing but their lost youth. That is neither fair to them or to older women. We should be just as vocal when older women are airbrushed from a production as we are when a work is whitewashed, because I hate to be the one to break this to you; however, if you're very, very lucky, you may one day be old yourself.