A Sea Change

I write a lot about being a woman and aging.

(See A Table of One’s Own and On Aging.)

I am committed to changing the narrative around middle-aged and older women (and men.)

I want the women (and men) who come after me to have a better path, a more welcoming one, as they move out of “youth” into their 40’s, 50’s and beyond.

I want them to never have to feel “invisible.”

I blame advertising and other forms of media.

We simply stop seeing people on television and film, for the most part, after they turn 45 or so.

Sure, we see a few as needed for the main story. The parent of the lead. The grandparent of the lead’s kids. A judge, a doctor, maybe — although today, for the most part, you see lawyers and doctors on shows and in movies who are in their mid-20’s to mid 30’s.

Oh, sure, there is the occasional uptight matron, or kooky neighbor or unmarried aunt. Or maybe a ball-busting woman playing a politician or high-ranking military officer.

But usually, we stop seeing any stories of people over 45 until they become grumpy old men or grandma’s on rampage.

In advertising, there is a gap between women and men aged 45 until over 65 or so. We see parents until their kids go off to college, and then “bam”! Nothing until it is time for dentures and Depends.

There’s just this big gap. And in that gap would be those of us between the ages of 45 and 65.

So my theory is that because youth grow up literally not seeing people ages 45 to 65 reflected back to them on TV and in magazines and films, they simply do not see us.

We are invisible to them.

I want this to change. I want to be a part of this change.

I am doing what I can by finding people who are brave enough to write stories that contain middle-aged and older people in central roles and stories and doing all I can to get cast in their pieces or support their work however I can by donating or watching or simply giving them a “Way to go!”

And I am writing my own stories that will reflect that population and am working to produce them.

I can go and support films of the people who have already done this. I can watch shows such as “Grace and Frankie” on Netflix who are featuring stories of people in their 70’s to support the efforts being made to get people over 45 into meaningful stories.

I do not yet know how else, but I know that I will be a part of this change.

It will be a sea change, for sure. But a change is a’coming, if I have my way.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: invisible

Culinary Delights

Your hands

I see them first

Long, tapered fingers

So sure, so sensuous

Your fingers holding the tuna

As you slice through it

My first thoughts

Make me blush

I want to be that food

I want to be touched

The way you touch it

I want you to slice me open

Arrange me

Take me into your mouth

Become one in your body

Inspired by The Daily Post: blush

History Matters

When I was in high school, I had a very aggravating world history teacher.

He used to do this very annoying thing: whenever a female asked him a question, he would usually say something like this*:

“Patience is a virtue, rarely found in men and never in little girls named fill-in-the-blank with the question-asker’s name.”

*Full disclosure: it has been many years since high school and I cannot recall his exact wording. Also, memory is a finicky thing, and as I recall, he only did this aggravating thing to young women, but I suppose in all fairness he could have said it to the young men. But to the best of my knowledge, he only said it to young women.

He used this phrase alongside many other subtle and not-so-subtle words and actions that made us young women feel like he was a male chauvinist pig, which in my day was a phrase bandied about by some women towards men like my teacher which is how we would have known of it.

We all felt it. He actually pitted the males against the women and listed our test scores prominently on the chalkboard each week: the males first, and then the women. The men usually got the highest grades, which he loved to gloat about. They were always listed on top.

Boy, did that burn us women up. The competition made us all work harder than we might have. We longed to knock the chip off his shoulder.

I remember when one of us finally earned the highest score. We couldn’t wait to find her name at the top of the list!

But he acted disgusted and refused to move her name to the top of his list, which we thought was grossly unfair.

I have thought of him over the years since, never with good feelings. His actions might seem innocuous, but we young women had enough societal images and messages coming at us telling us that our intellect was insignificant and unnecessary. We did not need to have it hammered into us by our teacher.

I happened to Google the words that I recall him always saying, and I found the following quote. While I found a source or two attributed to it, I was not satisfied that those sources were the actual creators of the saying.

“Patience is a virtue,                     Possess it if you can,                     Seldom found in woman,                     Never found in man.”

I find it interesting that my teacher had been so drawn to it that it became a staple in his tools for the classroom. I wonder how he came to find it…it clearly made a deep and lasting impression on him.

Someone choosing to commit their life to teach high school seniors is certainly someone of interest to me. And he was extremely passionate about world history and committed to our education. We all probably worked harder in his class than any other. Maybe he deserves credit for that. He certainly made a lasting impression on me.

Did he prepare us young women for the “real world” or did he merely deepen a dynamic that we’d already had jammed down our throats that we’d soon find further evidence of in college and beyond?

I like to think that a teacher today would never be able to get away with what he did so boldly.

I do wish that he had not been so sexist. His teaching could have been so much more powerful.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: patience

A Wrinkle in Mine

I recently got sent to a casting that actually welcomed wrinkles.

(Full disclosure: I am still not sure how I feel about being invited to attend the casting!)

Here is the actual wording of the casting notice:

These men and women are portraying people who were leftover hippies in their youth. They were drug users back in the day; this is how they contracted Hepatitis C. Bright Eyes are important. Somewhat weathered faces would be beautiful.

Now, there are some pretty “out there” notices that come across one’s computer. I have seen some real doozies. The wording used for many women’s roles can be pretty atrocious. (Also, those dealing with race and skin tone.) There is actually a blog that collects such notices, to “out” the people writing such sexist descriptions called Casting Call Woe.

This issue has gotten some press over the last few years, and there has been a commitment by some in the industry to do better. Rachel Bloom took a poke at this with a hilarious-in-a-sad-but-true kind of way in a well-publicized tweet in 2016.

I think the above notice handled things pretty gracefully, I think. It is unusual for “weathered” and “beautiful” to be in the same sentence in the advertising world. Knowing the casting director for that job, I am not surprised that the notice was so sensitive. If only they all were.

I have come along way in choosing to move through the remainder of my time on this planet with dignity, passion, grace and creativity. I am committed to being a part of changing the way our society views aging and older people.

And yet, I get called in for such a casting, and I admit it: I am relieved that I was not cast.

Sigh. I guess I have more work to do around this issue.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: wrinkle