and re-writing what it means to be a post-menopausal woman.
Hands up who likes Caitlin Moran! Well mine are both up, for starters. I adored How to be a Woman not to mention How to Build a Girl. Both books are fabulous, feminist and funny. I love her assured and quizzical tone and how she manages to say serious and outrageous things about how the world treats women, and make you laugh (mainly in recognition and in solidarity) at the same time.
On Saturday April 25th, she wrote a spectacular column in The Times Magazine (the whole magazine was billed as “It’s an age thing” so lots of interest there for the likes of me). I’d like to put a link here but The Times doesn’t let you read online unless you subscribe. This is the closest I can get http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/magazine/article4417018.ece. Her piece was all about Hilary Clinton and the strapline was ‘I thought when your ovaries quit, you retired to a hovel. I was looking forward to “going hag”’.
I wish I could print the whole column, it’s so wonderful. But to cut to her main point (which is also to miss some of her beautifully written ‘minor’ – which they ain’t – points), she declares that when Hillary announced she’d be running for president, “in that one second – as I imagined the very real possibility of her becoming president – she rewired my entire subconscious chronology of being a woman.”
Why? Because she, Caitlin, that is, had assumed that “it’s all downhill after the menopause” (bless her, she was only born in 1975). Not something she was actually that depressed about, to be fair. However she’d presumed that she’d somehow find herself inevitably being a different person to the vital player and deal-maker she’d been pre-menopause.
“But with Hillary’s announcement, that all exploded,” she writes. “Suddenly there is the possibility that we will live in a time when a woman becomes the leader of the free world at the age of 67. In a stroke this gives women a whole extra act in our lives. Another 30 years minimum in which we can grow in power, wisdom accomplishment, ambition and balls.”
She concludes, and goodness wouldn’t it be great if this becomes an accepted truism, “Clinton has made the sexual power of being a young woman – so often our gender’s greatest currency – look as nothing compared to what you can get in your seventh decade: the world.”
Fabulous, eh? And I think that’s why so many of us who are Hillary’s age ourselves are also so excited about the possibility of her becoming president. Barack Obama’s presence in the White House has meant – irrespective of what anyone might think of his policies – that no black person need now look in the mirror and see what he or she can’t be reflected back. By the same token, again irrespective of what we might think of her policies, Hillary’s presence there too would allow us, her cohort and her sisters, to recognise that we might look in that mirror and see an old or at least an older woman staring back. But the point is that these words – “old/older woman” will have been disrupted, reclaimed and redefined. And that far from proclaiming a lack or something negative, their semantic register will resonate confidence, potential, growth and power. Plus, as Caitlin says, ambition and balls. This is truly radical stuff.
So go Hillary, go!
Image source: www.hillaryclinton.com