Being *old* draft 1.

I’ve been considering this for awhile now. Precipitated by a conversation with a neighbour following a particularly passionate exchange over a ‘patch supper*’ in the local pub before Christmas. For once, it wasn’t me on the soap box it was my neighbour and it had the extraordinary effect of making tough, debate hardened me move to sit elsewhere for the last course of the meal. I had bad dreams that night, what on earth was it that made me need to get away, usually it’s me driving everyone to the far corners of the room, should I be delving deeper in to this? Is it something I need to address within my own behaviour? The next day, the neighbour passed and stopped to talk, seemingly apropos of nothing she said “I hate being old, no-one tells you and it’s not bloody fair that they don’t tell you how bloody horrible it is”, I laughed as if to say ‘you don’t mean that’, “Oh you’ll see” she said, “but I mean it, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, pleasant about being old in this day and age, it’s a horrible way to live” we were in the road, she in a car and me on foot so there was no time to explore this further but already I have an inkling of what she was getting at. i spent my formative years in a theatre, I can’t help but watch, observe and wonder, analyze…

I think there are expectations of the old and especially older women. Older men can be prickly, eccentric, awkward, bumbling, drunkards,  self- important, aggrandizing, intense, pretty much anything apart from creepy….. all of these behaviours are then labelled as characterful and generally tolerated. Women however have much more limited options, they are expected to become tolerant, accepting/stoic, gentle, positive and wise (in a largely non academic way) If you have opinions you are opinionated and therefore tiresome, no one respects you for who you are, you are generally judged from your outward appearance or the clothes you wear. The passion you have, the strength of feeling for issues/people/ideas/wrongs doesn’t fade but somehow it becomes less acceptable, despite the fact it born out of years of experience. I don’t know if this is because of the menopause and the way those changes impact on husbands and sons who develop a thick skinned slightly wary attitude that never goes away once put on or what. I don’t know. Some do get quite bullish, which maybe fine coming from the chairman of the board but from a senior female citizen, less so. of course, they get bullish because people stop listening to them, they have to over state their case and prove every point. Unless you can, like Miss Marple with sharp and concise reasoning state your case, no one listens/takes you seriously, in fact, Miss Marple uses her outward ‘little old lady’ persona as a cover  but maybe Agatha Christie was just exploring the same thing and the creation of Miss Marple was a biting of the thumb at societys expectations of elderly women and spinsters putting up, keeping out of the way and getting on with the knitting.

I know plenty of ‘strong’ mature women who have leadership roles within the community, I have also observed that they are often targets for derision, that people challenge them more than they do male counterparts and that it is a ‘battle’ rather than a pleasure for them to achieve the things they set out to achieve. The clever ones hide behind male figureheads, but by and large mature ‘strong’ women make people uncomfortable but at the same time without them in my opinion, things wouldn’t get done; campaigns wouldn’t get started, projects wouldn’t be completed and there would be a huge gaping hole in communities. This isn’t me making a point or a case, I’m just exploring a feeling here, a sense of something and of course its a generalisation to say that older women don’t have an important role or command respect in society/communities other than in a pastoral way, take Margaret Thatcher for instance…..

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artsmonkey

Artsmonkey... Culture Active... Firestarter Arts active in the promotion, delivery and development of cultural projects and ideas, with a specialism in youth arts and theatre arts also a bit of a social media diva and photog

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