enter without so much as knocking


Yesterday, I was searching for an image of two mature women to represent my sister and I in old age. It was almost impossible to source an image that did not ridicule and marginalise older women.

Almost every image that I found of two women, represented the women as bizarrely dressed, smoking cigars, playing on children’s playground equipment , skateboarding, riding motorcycles or looking grumpy.

When are we going to stop this marginalisation of older women? Why do we allow, in fact, not only allow, but perpetuate the stereotype of the crazy old woman? Why does ageing mean that we either have to be grumpy and frumpy, or bizarre and childish?

I don’t want to act like a child when I am old. I’ve passed through that stage of life, why would I want to go back to it? I am an intelligent, independent women with all my faculties. I have worked hard to have the life I live, I am not going to stand by and allow the media to stereotype me as a weird or senile older person. If I don’t have respect for myself, why should others?

Repeat after me : I will not marginalise myself, or other women by allowing older people to be represented in such a manner as to cause disrespect or ridicule. 


14 thoughts on “enter without so much as knocking

  1. today, I read comments in our local newspaper that referred to our Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg as “that gal on the Supreme Court.” The person making the comment was concerned and hoping that “she doesn’t fall asleep” while hearing arguments regarding same sex marriages. I still cringe thinking about it.


    • And why are women always reported as a “grandmother” in the media. A grandmother was run over today etc. Men are never described as a “grandfather”. Why does that matter in a story? Our first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was the target of many a sexist attack.


  2. I think people find pictures of old women on skateboards and playground swings, or smoking cigars and dressing like teenagers funny because the two most common stereotypes of old women are either a prim, disapproving spinster, a Miss Grundy type, or a senile, babbling creature in a wheelchair. And funny enough, I have a photograph of my mother, then 85, sitting on a motorcycle, looking very badass in her leather jacket and long scarf. My children find the photo amusing; I find it a bit painful, as I know she was just beginning her descent into dementia when the photo was taken. My mother was a very dignified woman, conscientious of her appearance and dress; at the height of her powers, she never would have posed for a photograph while mugging on a big Harley.

    That said, I hope I don’t become a humorless, disapproving grandma, looking down her nose at those dreadful young people! I’m not going to take up skateboarding in my 70s, but I won’t be above going to the X Games if my grandson is ever lucky enough to enter the skateboarding competition. 🙂


    • How true – and we are the invisible glue that holds society together. How many invisible women are retiring to care for grandchildren so that younger women can maintain their careers?
      Then again, being invisible does give one some freedoms to leave the pretence behind.


  3. Mum has a note from her older sister on her fridge, the one about “age is mind over matter – it you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter” – I hope it’s true on a personal level, because it certainly isn’t in society as a whole. But it’s funny to see how my perspective on what an “Old lady” is is shifting as people I love get older (and I myself get older too, of course – according to my nephew (age 7) my 31 years puts me up there with the dinosaurs!)


  4. Pingback: A more recent discrimination: Old Age | From guestwriters

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