Facing up to oldie feminism

So I am learning that my somewhat extreme response to Snow White and the Huntsman is not common to all feminists. What the fuck’s wrong with them, the fucking fuckwits? Only kidding. I guess it’s fair enough. Going to see a film that pitches ageing, secretly ugly woman (evil) against young, perfectly pretty woman (good) is not the best of ideas on your 37th birthday. Particularly when you realise that the ageing, secretly ugly woman is played by someone your age. And that compared to her you ming. No wonder my response is a bit “out there”.

There is a bit of me, though, that looks at some responses to the film and thinks “well, of course you don’t give a shit. That’s because you’re young. You identify with Kirsten Stewart, see her leading an army and think that’s all there is”. And all of that sounds incredibly patronising. But hey, I still think it. Moreover, I feel a bit patronised, too. Don’t you think I can’t see it? I can see all the shitty feminist manoeuvres that stupid film makes. But they’re all annulled by the narrative itself, and the positioning on beauty, ageing and a woman’s worth.

I’m turning into one of those feminists, aren’t I? One of those oldie ones who rants about younger ones. And I’m only 37! I wasn’t ready to make the switch just yet! I don’t want to be one of them! They moan about young feminists excluding them and not engaging with matters that relate to them. And in the past whenever I’ve heard such complaints, I’ve thought “well, that’s hardly helpful, attacking us young ‘uns, is it?” But actually they’ve got a point. Except if I say that, that’s also patronising (I used to think that, but I was wrong, therefore if you think it now, you’ll be wrong. I hate it when people do that. Especially me).

When they’re not going on about a whole host of other made-up injustices, some men’s rights campaigners like to hone in on the very idea of the feminist as an ageing, ugly woman – a “fugly”, if you will – who’s just pissed off about losing her own status to younger prettier women who can still do stuff (i.e. have babies). A fugly is a bit like Ravenna in Snow White and the Huntsman, only actually ugly (not to labour the point, or anything). I think age is a central issue in feminism because a woman’s reproductive and non-reproductive life is, unjustly, perceived to define her worth. It is unfair on us at any age. But I always used to close my ears a little to the complaints of older women about becoming “invisible”. I might even have thought “you should be so lucky”. I didn’t want to think about it because I knew it will happen to me, too. It will happen to you, and even Kristen sodding Stewart if we don’t do anything to challenge it (Not Kristen! Nooooooo!).

There’s a bit towards the end of Snow White when the heroine says to Ravenna “I’m not like you”. But in many ways she is. She will get old. She will lose her value. I don’t want feminism to be some in-fight between older and younger women (especially given that we slightly older ones get portrayed as the murderous bitches, while the younger ones merely kick ass). I want there to be an unquestioned understanding that a woman’s life is of value at all stages. But how many slut walkers did you see with tits down to their ankles? (There was me. But that’s how I usually dress.)

The thing is, though, I don’t want to start posturing as the wise woman, giving (no doubt unwanted) counsel to the younger feminists. First, I’m not very wise. Second, there are loads of younger feminists so wise it makes me want to curl up and die of embarrassment. I was such a tosser at 25! You wouldn’t believe how much of a tosser I was! (bwt, that’s not a patronising comment on your presumed lack of credulity. It’s just to stress I was a total tosser.) And there are lots of feminists in their mid-twenties and they make sense! How do they do that? (Honestly, girls, when I was your age I was, I was … not in fact doing anything remotely exciting, come to think of it. So, um, yeah. Keep up the good work.)

Well, this is the start of my descent into rambly old lady pieces. Which is of course patronising to old ladies, rambly or otherwise. I wonder how many people it’s possible to patronise in one post?

I’ll get my (mutton dressed as lamb) coat.

PS I’m aware there may be older feminists who like Snow White and the Huntsman. Well, the others have an excuse. But honestly, I’d expected better of you *disappointed, and hence patronising, face*.


8 thoughts on “Facing up to oldie feminism

  1. I haven’t seen the film so am commenting tentatively! From what you’ve described, maybe the ‘fight’ is against the evil, established, rather than the ageing, superficial ugliness. The film showing her as ugly because of the evil, versus the beauty of good. Age representing persistence of such evil versus new thinking represented by youth? I only say this because I was really looking forward to seeing it, and um, I’m 39, so even older and uglier than you, and I kinda wanted to enjoy it…
    Go on, relent, remove my guilt. Pretty (secure in her wrinkling skin) please?

    1. Okay, you’re allowed. Although I might have to draw up a policy on what I’m allowing everyone else to like. Don’t want to be doing this willy-nilly (for some reason, the idea that I’m positioning myself to be the Michael Gove of feminists has just popped into my head. Not sure why or what this means, but there you go).

    2. Okay, you’re allowed. Although I might have to draw up a policy on what I’m allowing everyone else to like. Don’t want to be doing this willy-nilly (for some reason, the idea that I’m positioning myself to be the Michael Gove of feminists has just popped into my head. Not sure why or what this means, but there you go).

    1. What you need to do afterwards is take the teenager and suck all the youth and beauty out of him/her, leaving him/her a wizened old husk while you are even more beautiful. Then laugh maniacally. But thereafter, take extra care around dwarfs.

      1. Hmmm…this sucking face thing is new info. If age is the transferrable cross to bear, then I’m feeling myself siding with you. Damn it. I really wanted to enjoy it. I also have a fair-of-face, 14 year old daughter to gaze upon. Pale skin, dark hair, rose-coloured lips…bugger. I’m the evil witch, aren’t I?!

  2. Ugh. Age sucks. I am 39 in a month. And I have a radiant 16 year old daughter to rub her glowing with youth face in mine on a daily basis. Bless her beautiful face! Such a shame that we are so unforgiving of age. Unless you are Helen Mirren. In an article about Madonna getting her tit out I saw women’s bodies over the age of 50 being described as gruesome. The article was in the mail, and was by Liz jones, but even so its a bit of an extreme response. I actually like my body more now, saggy boobs and stretch marks and all, than I did in my youth. Cos I am comfortable (mostly) with it. I intend to be hot in my 40s, and sexy in my 50s, even if only in my partners eyes. And by the way- he is not far off 50, and fit as fuck in my biased opinion!

    1. Sometimes Liz Jones is really good on body image (no, honestly! She really lays into the fashion industry at times). Then the rest of the time she’s totally rubbish.
      I once read a Guardian comments board on Madonna adopting children, where one comment said “well, she has to do it now cos her body’s totally fucked”. Which struck me as remarkable. On that basis we women spend half our lives with our bodies fucked (in a bad way). It’s amazing we get anything done.

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