<![CDATA[It’s an exciting time to be an older woman. This wasn’t always so for me. I remember the pain of realizing, around the time I turned fifty, that people, especially men, were looking right through me as though I was invisible. I also became aware of career opportunities that were closing because of my gender and age while men were seen as viable leaders into their eighties. Don’t get me wrong—there is still plenty of ageism mixed with sexism and racism in our country—but something new is also happening for older women. There are currently some exhilarating role models of powerful older women who are refusing to be invisible. Consider these examples offered by Jessica Bennett of the New York Times:
- Susan Zirinsky will become the head of CBS News in March at the age of sixty-six. She will be the first woman in this position and the oldest person to assume the role, replacing Les Moonves who was ousted for sexual harassment as a result of the #MeToo movement.
- Nancy Pelosi, re-elected at the age of seventy-eight as the Speaker of the House, is the most powerful elected woman in US history.
- Maxine Waters, at the age of seventy-nine, is the first woman and the first African American to lead the powerful Finance Committee in the House of Representatives.
- Glenn Close beat out four younger women for the Golden Globe for Best Actress at the age of seventy-one.
- Donna Shalala is the oldest member, at the age of seventy-eight, of the newly elected Democratic freshman class of the House of Representatives.
- Christiane Amanpour, sixty-one, replaced Charlie Rose, also ousted for sexual harassment, on PBS last year.
- And let’s not forget Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—the incredible RBG—who is eighty-five.
- Many older women describe themselves as vibrant, energetic, and happy.
- We know ourselves and have developed emotional intelligence and empathy for others.
- As Pipher notes, we find freedom from the male gaze. Once I realized I had become invisible to men as a woman over fifty, I felt a sense of relief to be free from catcalls on the street, sexual harassment, and other unwanted attention. I could just be.
- While I still care about staying fit and enjoying clothes, I stay fit for myself and my health, and I buy and wear clothes to please myself instead of to impress others.
- Many older women report feeling good about developing resilience after facing and surviving losses and disappointments. It’s a powerful feeling to know you can handle almost anything.
- Being older can also mean saying “no” more easily to things we do not want to do, being less anxious in general, and having more clarity about our intentions.
- Pipher also notes that “women are connected to a rich web of women friends” and long-term partners and have “emotional health insurance policies” that are priceless. This can be true at any age.
7 thoughts on “Why Being an Older Woman Rocks!”
Another fabulous post, Anne! As an older woman, I say, “Thank you!” We are powerful and we are having a major impact – whatever the size of our stage.
Great post, Anne!
Thank you, Anne! I regularly read your posts but haven’t responded with my appreciation for your thoughts on so many important issues for women. This one moved me to respond with a smile and a “yes!” I think it has taken me a while to embrace being older, but it is definitely a gift. I join you in the “roar!” (probably my favorite song ever).
I agree! The joy of being an older woman has been on my mind lately. I may have a few more aches and pains but I know so much more than I ever knew before. I feel empowered as I look to women like Pelosi, Shalala and Ginsburg. The best is yet to be.
Thanks, Cindy! Yes, the best is yet to be.
Great job, Anne. I appreciated your good concrete examples from a variety of industries. The accomplishments & confidence of some mature women must be balanced by the high percentage of older women who slip into poverty everyday. Thanks for your on going work!