“Goodbye, Girl,” is Kyran Pittman’s lament to lost youth, published in the September issue of Good Housekeeping. Facing menopause, she has begun to notice how the image in her mirror no longer reflects the one she’s grown used to. What’s more, she’s gained 10 pounds mysteriously and admits that her grey hairs are coming in at a rate far too numerous to pluck. She confesses, too, that she’s comfortable with the rules of the game for a young woman. When one is young “sex appeal is a hefty talking stick in our culture.” But what are the rules for middle age, she wonders. Or worse, what are the rules for growing old ? Older women, she observes, “often seem invisible and powerless in the company of men.” (pg. 196)
Few women of a certain age have escaped the twinge for lost youth that Pittman expresses. But as one who is old, I’d like to console her by pointing out the fear is groundless. In fact, the assumption she makes that sex appeal is the source of a woman’s power is skewed. It’s an advantage when looking for a mate with whom to bear children – a goal nature bakes into us for the sake of the species. But allure’s power is limited and can actually work against a woman who wishes to be taken seriously.
I won’t deny that many women mourn the loss of their reproductive ability, believing that loss to be the end of their femininity. I would remind them that the role nature has planned for women is a narrow one, lasting 20-30 years of a life that could go on for another 40 – 50. Birthing babies is too narrow an understanding of what it is to be female. Women need to broaden the concept to include all forms of nurturing. Femininity is about providing kinder, gentler solutions to problems in a world awash in testosterone. Aung San Suu Kyi is 62. Gloria Steinem is 78. Can anyone imagine two women more feminine and powerful?
(Courtesy of theredlist.fr)