That Ageist Taboo about Women, yet again
I couldn’t resist: I just had to get up on my soapbox about this one.
So the press in the UK just had another go at reinforcing stereotypes, rigid belief systems and fostering fear.
Another ageist, sexist bash in the guise of what should be evolved, gender-balanced media.
Two women making the news just because they decide their age isn’t a problem. Two women living the life they want to live. Because they can. And it’s 2016.
Not a single man makes the news when he becomes a dad after 48 ½.
Granny has triplets at 55
Let’s just analyse that headline for a moment.
Information: OK, so she’s a grandmother. She already has children with children. She now has three more. On her passport it says she was born 55 years ago.
Subliminal message after reading the article: The concept of ‘grandmother’ is not aligned with ‘mother’ in this world view. Having triplets is abnormal. 55 is just too old and simply ‘bad mother’ material. Oh yes, and her husband is 15 years younger. That’s just weird because women don’t do that, only men.
Janet Jackson cancels tour to plan her family at 49
Information: Janet Jackson is cancelling all her concerts due to fertility treatments. On her passport it says she was born 49 years ago.
Subliminal message: Famous singer won’t be singing because she has better things to do. Who does she think she is even trying this at 49?
Don’t get me wrong. The UK’s oldest mum is newsworthy. So is the fact that Janet Jackson is cancelling her tour. But can we not write about these choices in a more supportive way, rather than making the AGE or NUMBER the headline?
Society and the media are so obsessed with the chronological age of women. Especially women. If men do something out of their ‘age-range’ it’s generally a shoulder pat and a thumbs up mate. There is so much judgement using a worn-out paradigm of what a woman over 48 (my chronological age at next BIRTH-DAY by the way) is and isn’t capable of.
Here’s the new idea or shift in thinking:
Today being 55 (in chronological terms) can mean you have the biological age of 35 and you could easily live another 50 years. So you are in fact only in the middle of your long life.
You can’t change your chronological age but you can sure influence your biological age. There is solid data to back this up from Harvard University (one of those controlled studies academics really trust). A group of old men were put in the environment of the 1950s – the time when they were young. They had the music, clothes, décor – everything from the 50s. After just one week of living like this all their health parameters had improved: Their cardiac output, their lung function, blood pressure, hearing and they even looked younger than on the ‘before’ photograph.
A woman having a baby in her youthful middle age years is bound to reset her programming and help her live longer.
Oh yes, there’s also research to back that up from more than 4 separate studies.
Women who have children over 40 are four times more likely to live to 100.
I’m just waiting for the new world to emerge fully where there is more freedom, less judgement and more inclusion. Where it doesn’t matter how old you are, what race or colour, ability or sexual preference you have and where a woman can chose to live the life she feels is right for her. If I had a banner it would say:
‘Drop that last taboo – you know those ageist beliefs!’
Ageing is a wonderful thing because you increase in competence as you move through time. Many cultures, including Asian and more indigenous societies celebrate ageing as gaining in respect and value. But our Western values are all skewed.
Ageist taboos are based on fear, not love.
It’s a fear of limitations and death ultimately.
But we have much more potential than that. Let’s shift our thinking so that young women don’t feel pressurised into ridiculously expensive and potentially dangerous fertility procedures like freezing their eggs because they’re afraid they won’t be naturally capable of conceiving beyond a given age. Thinking at 25 that your eggs will be no good after 40 is a sure way to predetermine your body to follow that belief. We know how the mind controls the body. And we know how we can change the biochemistry of our body with a switch in mindset. The switch is unfortunately not so easy when the programming is deeply rooted in your subconscious since childhood. And your subconscious incidentally controls 95% of what you do every day.
But as an optimist I do believe the world is changing because women like me are finally speaking up with more clarity. There are also some proper new men out there who are speaking up for us women.
What did the Canadian feminist, yogi prime minister, Justin Trudeau, say last year about having a gender balanced cabinet?
“Because it’s 2015!”
He then put on that ‘hello!’ face which was properly endearing and made the comment extra potent.
Now if I called him a hunk would it be as bad as calling a woman a babe?
This piece was first published in the Huffington Post