I am an old woman. I wear Birkenstocks and blue jeans. I wear a lot of purple and my hair is hippie long. In the hot Texas summer I sometimes chop it short. I laugh a lot and use the word fuck in many different ways. I love rock and roll along with the blues and outlaw country. I don’t wear make-up or high heels. I can mow my own lawn, hook up a complex audio video system and build my own PC.
I cowgirl up in spite of aching joints and wish the hell they would make pot legal and cheap.
To me gender has always been a way of putting limits on women and girls (See Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex”) The other night in her acceptance speech upon induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Joan Jett recalled a time when gender meant girls/women didn’t play electric guitars in rock and roll bands.
I’ve been reading Ellen Goodman for more years than I can remember
While she was winning gold medals, many in her generation were raised on the idea that “when I am an old woman I shall wear purple.”
For many, 65 is not the new 30 but the new freedom from the extreme sport of femininity.
By Ellen Goodman
June 11, 2015
HAVE YOU noticed that the first 65-year-old cover girl on Vanity Fair was actually born a boy? Is that transsexual progress or just trans-sexism?
Yes, I am happy that Caitlyn Jenner has finally come out as a female, thereby risking her net worth. As one cartoonist suggested, she is now likely to be paid exactly 77 cents on the dollar.
More to the point, as Jon Stewart noted, the silicon-cleavaged and made-over Olympian is now the sweetheart of the Twittersphere and cable chatteratti, where people are talking about nothing but her glam girl status.
In Stewart’s words: “It’s really heartening to see that everyone is willing to not only accept Caitlyn Jenner as a woman but to waste no time in treating her like a woman. You see, Caitlyn, when you were a man, we could talk about your athleticism, your business acumen. But now you’re a woman and your looks are really the only thing we care about.” Bingo.
In that vein, let’s remember the remarks of the woman who chose the clothes for the photo shoot. The Vanity Fair dresser said: “The one thing that makes it easier to dress someone is proportion. Caitlyn’s proportions are fashion proportions, really.” She’s tall, slim, narrow-hipped, kind of ideal to dress.
Yes! A fashion designer’s dream come true!
But as an (even) older woman, may I add a little something to the sexism? A little ageism perhaps? May I ask why Caitlyn couldn’t come out as a 65-year-old woman rather than a 25-year-old starlet?
A factoid: Americans are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day. If the female half of that demographic is looking for a role model, it’s not a Medicare Babe but a woman facing down the truly Olympic challenge of aging gracefully.
The fashion industry basically stops at Forever 21. The shoe designers loved and left us like heels.
Mirren, Streep, Bergen
If we need to go Hollywood to cast an iconic older woman, couldn’t we have Helen Mirren at 69 or Meryl Streep at 65? Or better yet, Candice Bergen at 69, who admits to being 30 pounds over her Murphy Brown weight? “I live to eat,” she announces. “No carb is safe — no fat, either.” Being overweight is probably more of a challenge in this culture than bending gender. You go, girl.
Instead, Caitlyn looks more like Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard,” playing an over-the-hill actress when she was only 50!
The editors of Vanity Fair were not the only ones who transformed the former Bruce into their fantasy Caitlyn. Where, oh, where was photographer Annie Leibowitz in all this? What was she thinking? At 65 herself, the long-term companion of the late uber-intellectual Susan Sontag, Leibowitz surely has more to say and show about aging than her ingénue subject.
Well, here’s the thing. I am sorry that Caitlyn missed out on being a 20- or 30-year-old woman. But I wish she could catch up.