Ageing and why not giving a shit is a feminist stance

Hello lovelies,

I want to talk about some of the ways women* are conditioned to be in a state of apology for our bodies; for the ageing process; and for not being perfect delicate little flowers there for the appreciation of men until the end of our days. But first, a disclaimer:

When I talk about men or some men in this piece I'm NOT referring to all men or the good and lovely ones of you out there, of which there are many - I married one of them. I'm talking about the deluded fools who think they're owed something by the entire female race. So please, let's not have any 'I'm not like that!' comments from men at the end of this post, please. That just goes to nullify what I'm saying and to drown out my voice. I'm not saying ALL men are bad. I'm talking about the kind of men most mothers would be embarrassed to have spat out of their vaginas - the ones who feel it's their duty to throw insults at a woman in the street because of the way she looks. Or even the ones who think they're doing you a favour by rating your body in a way they see as positive, like the road digger who told me that I had nice tits as I crossed the road when I was 14. 14!! Like the various men over the years who've yelled 'Look at the size of THAT!' as I walked past, dehumanising me every time. Both examples illustrate perfectly the way (some) men believe they have the right to rate female bodies, and it's not on. There is no right to rate something you don't own. I am not a possession to be marked out of 10. I'm a human being. This post is about those kinds of men.

That disclaimer out of the way, I'll move on. When a woman starts to show signs of ageing, it's often thought that she's 'let herself go' and when this inevitable biological process happens to our bodies, men with entitlement issues act like we owe them our slimness, our youth, our beauty and tend to get all pissy about us daring to exist. Let me tell you we don't owe anyone shit. The sad truth is, some men are incredibly dismissive of women after they pass the age in which they're deemed shagable by them (as is so with fat women) - 'We don't fancy you so please go die in a hole, thankyouplease'. Our visibility pisses people off so they either don't acknowledge us at all, or feel the need to put us in 'our place'. Parallels can be found between the way fat women are thought of in society and the way older women are thought of, and I'm sure this applies to many, many other minority groups (but I am not qualified to talk about those so I'll stick to the subject at hand.)

Words for our body parts are designated to dehumanise us and reduce us to cuts of meat. We become jowls, bingo wings, muffin tops, wrinkly knees, saggy bums and other horrible things which fail to acknowledge we're people, dammit. We aren't allowed the gift of ageing free of judgement. If you doubt this, when was the last time you saw a female newsreader with noticeable eye bags? Yet I see male newsreaders who are saggy around the eyes and that's perfectly acceptable - so much so that most of us won't even notice the inequality we're faced with. Messages are passed down from the womb, and thus we are conditioned, brain washed into acceptance. We as women are expected to show no signs of ageing, no menopausal thickening of the waist. We have to be not too thin yet not too fat, and the goalposts are constantly moving on which is which. We are expected to dye our hair, cut, pull and inject the wrinkles out of our faces and hold onto our youth at all costs, as if it's the only thing we ever had to offer to the world. We are supposed to exist in a state of flux, never in control of ourselves, and constantly seeking male approval. We are supposed to be like clay, mouldable to a man's desires and whims. 

As women we're conditioned to fade to invisibility when we reach a certain age, lest we be called 'mutton dressed as lamb'. If I were to pluck a list of things out of the air that older women aren't 'supposed' to do off the top of my head, it would be this:

Don't wear too much makeup.
Don't wear short skirts.
Don't have long hair, because it's ageing.
Don't even attempt to be sexy.
Don't draw attention to yourself.
Don't wear bright colours.
Don't even attempt to have a sex life, and if you do, do NOT talk about it.

If I gave it a few more minutes' thought I'm sure I could think of dozens more things women aren't supposed to do once they get past the age of ooh, 35.

What do I think about this?


Seriously, do what you want to do and who cares what anyone thinks or says - be that Neanderthal men in the street or misogynistic idiots in the media. Doing what you want and not giving a shit about the things you're not 'supposed' to do is as you age is as feminist as fook and as sexy as hell, as far as I'm concerned. I find feisty women totally sexy, no matter what age they are.

When I see women like Helen Mirren or Dame Judi Dench, I don't see aged, past-it women who should piss off and let the camera fall on Megan Fox or Angelina Jolie for the zillionth time. I see a couple of bad ass, beautiful women who couldn't give a rat's cock what older ladies are supposed to do, and they're all the sexier for it. When Helen Mirren dyed her hair pink and lilac I thought 'Hell, yeah! I want to do that when I'm grey all over.' Dame Judi Dench is a classy broad with a beatific smile. I saw her in Waitrose once (pushing her own trolley, natch) and I stared at her in that 'Is that really HER!?' way only a fan can, and she gave me a mile wide smile and floated (yes, floated - don't you know famous people don't actually walk?!) on down the aisle past me. Did I notice her wrinkles? Did I fudge cakes! I thought 'What a class act!'

Making yourself happy by doing what you want is the ultimate middle finger to the society as a whole, which is male-driven. These 'rules' are made by arrogant young men (who think the world turns at their behest) and deluded old men, secure in the knowledge they can knock someone up aged 90, who believe the laws of nature don't apply to them in the same way they do to women. 

Here is my 'Eff You' list. Let me know what your 'Eff You' moments will be in the comments. I will:

  1. Stop making apologies for my baggy eyes when I take make up photos. I'm 39 FFS, I'm going to be a bit crepey around the eyes. Don't likey, don't lookey!
  2. Have long hair or short hair (or no hair), dyed whichever frigging colour I like, or leave it grey. My hair, my rules.
  3. Wear exactly what I want, when I want - all the colours, all at once. Beige is for carpets.
  4. Take up space, make a noise, be visible. I have as much right to space and to be heard as anyone else.
  5. Wear as much makeup as a clown if it makes me happy.
  6. Embrace my wrinkles as visible reminders of the wisdom I've accrued in nearly 40 years on the planet.
  7. Remind myself that no one is ugly or dull when they're wearing a smile and there's no age limit on the twinkle in someone's eyes.
  8. Make no bones about being a sexual being, and be open about it. Once my reproductive organs have no use, does that mean I'm done with sexually?! I think NOT. I love sex.
  9. Stop focussing so much on outer beauty (despite the world being obsessed with it) and concentrate on being a better person.
  10. Love myself right now, as I am.
I want to talk about #10 more as it's important, and sometimes loving yourself is the hardest thing to do when it feels like the world is gearing up to shoot you for daring to exist.

10. Love myself right now.

Not in 10 pounds or 100 pounds. Not with rose-tinted glasses wishing my life away to a time in the past when I supposedly looked better or younger. (I wouldn't go back to being young for all the peachy young skin in the world! I know and love myself now.) I won't give up being fierce because some deluded cock-swingers write articles in which they value women by their desirability and give their parts names like cuts of meat. Is that all we're worth?! Really, oh STFU! Go choke on a dick.

Further to this, I have a womanifesto.

My Womanifesto

As I age I intend to be more me and to care less what anyone thinks, least of all society/the media/twatwaffles. I will put my happiness first, and not worry about an arbitrary set of rules dictated by entitled men. I will wear more colours than a parrot sports in its feathers. I will laugh long, throaty and loud wherever I am. I will cherish my sexuality and flaunt it in the face of arrogant youth who thinks it belongs to them. I will crinkle up my eyes in mirth and not give a toss if I get laughter lines. I will not go quietly anywhere. I will take up space, and I will claw it back hissing from those who don't allot me any. I will be so joyous in myself that I will make youth contemplate old age with new eyes. I will forever stick two fingers up to the merest suggestion that I am worth less than others, past it or no longer relevant because I am old(er.) I will never let life knock the mischief out of me. I will be as feisty as all hell.

What do you think? What would be in your womanifesto or 'eff you' list?

Thanks for reading!

*Obviously this also applies to men to a lesser extent, but as I'm a woman with the experiences as a woman I'll leave that conversation to men. There is no doubt the world is becoming more focussed on male AND female ageing, but I can only write from my perspective.

P.S. Also, there is no doubt that sometimes women love to bring other women down. Three examples immediately spring to mind - Liz Jones, Katie Hopkins, and Samantha Brick. That's a subject for another day, or this will be the longest post known to man, but it does make me scratch my head and make me think they've been drinking the (male supplied) Kool Aid.

P.P.S. I write this piece from the perspective of a (mostly) straight woman, talking about the interaction between men and women, as those are my life experiences. I haven't talked about any other types of relationships, because (as with the male perspective) that conversation deserves to be held by the relevant people. I can only speak from my own experiences and to attempt to speak for another group would be wrong.

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