People are resentful that radical jihadi terrorism has caused us all to live in a Code Orange world. Women have been living in a Code Orange world for a long time. Sometimes you figure it out when you’re really young, and you carry that wariness and those high cortisol levels around with you for the rest of your life. Other times, you don’t realize you live in a Code Orange world until your boyfriend beats and rapes you over buying the wrong kind of beer, or a stranger yanks you into the bushes on your college campus. But eventually, most women come to realize that we live in a Code Orange world.
How does any thoughtful woman reject the concept of feminism? After all, feminism is simply defined as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Not better than, just equal to.
That sounds right and reasonable to me. Would anyone argue that we should not have the right to vote? Should we not be safe to walk in the streets, able to rent an apartment or buy a home without the co-signature of a husband or father, eat in a restaurant unaccompanied by a male? And I have yet to hear one reasonable explanation for the fact that women in the United States still earn 73-cents to each male dollar.
I was delighted to see Meryl Streep, Sally Field, Glenn Close, and Bette Midler tonight on the Oscars. I recognized them. And though I am hardly in-the-know about whether or not they have had cosmetic surgery, if they have, they've kept a light hand about it. They are beautiful women past the age of 55 who look past the age of 55.
Which is brave in a society that still primarily values women based on bust size and curve ratio. Particularly in Hollywood, where sex appeal still matters at least as much as talent, the women who refuse to try to look 20 years younger are practically taking a stand.
The majority of women still spend the first 20 years of life learning what the world expects, the next 25 years devoted to families, and finally, finally, we get to ourselves. What we expect ourselves to be. What we now have time to become. But at that exciting moment, with all the time and potential in the world before us, too many women look in the mirror and see only the wrinkles, the gray hair, the softened jaw line, the extra pounds. We fail to inspire ourselves because the reflection in the mirror doesn't live up to society's expectations of fuckability.
As if that's all we're good for. As if that's what we aspire to.
Poor Kim Novak. She doesn't need kissable puffed-up lips, a wrinkle-free face, she doesn't need to look 35 to remind me of her glamor. She could have walked out on that stage with a face that bragged of her 81 years and held our attention. I don't think for one moment it was vanity that drove her decision to hit the botox hard. I don't think it's ego that causes Goldie Hawn to keep going under the knife. It's lack of self-worth. If the only value you've placed on yourself is society's meter of youth and fecundity, then you can't look in the mirror and take pride in the woman staring back.
Sure, the human attraction to fertility has a strong biological basis. But in other cultures, other times, a deep appreciation for survival, contribution, and the wisdom one gains over time have also played an important part. I gratefully traded my flirtatious and slightly wild years for my child-bearing and nurturing years. And now I've traded that role for my next phase. Maiden. Mother. Crone. All powerful archetypes, equally valid.
I'm not saying that one's 50s and 60s can't be vital and exciting. Just that we don't need to look 25 or 35 to experience the benefits. Will I still use my eye cream and my skin tone corrector? Certainly. That's a bit of vanity. But I will also celebrate my laugh lines and every reminder that I am older and therefore wiser. That's self worth.
This little medical tidbit of insight flipped my stomach. Apparently, women have developed a biological response to protect us from sexual assault. A biological response. That means we've learned to anticipate rape at the level of our genome.
Ask me what I am
My answer depends on the time of day
Surely I cannot be all these things at once