I was 63 last month. For 30 years, I have been a radical feminist who has worked with native societies and studied cultures that respect the roles of old women. I have also watched my own culture (European-American) go through whatever in its striving for eternal youth.
When I first saw the picture of a 70-year-old Jane Fonda [“Jane Fonda to Give Keynote Address,” Xpress, June 11], I thought: “How sad! This is a picture of female empowerment? This is a picture of a woman who stopped development at a very early age and has all the money in the world to attempt to capture that moment.”
The idea that Jane Fonda was to be a “role model” for empowering women is a denial of the opportunities offered to all of us as we go through the different stages of life—maiden, mother and crone. My goal has always been to move beyond the deliberate immaturity of my culture’s definitions of old women, [and progress] from grudging acceptance to enthusiastic embracing of what’s possible in the third phase of the Triple Goddess (56 to 84 years old). Although many women find “meaning” privately as they age, my focus is a more public stance of respect and appreciation for the wisdom inherent in old women’s unique perspectives. All those wrinkles, gray hair etc. mean something! They are maps of our lives and adventures to be read by everyone we meet!
What does it say about our culture and Fonda’s “empowering” visage that we celebrate no lines, no maps, only the smooth faces of young women (or old women trying to look young by hiding their experiences)? Same old, same old.