Friday 21 October 2011
Julie Burchill: Ageing women have a better time than raddled old men
Some cracked actress is suing Amazon for a million dollars because her age was posted on its Internet Movie Database, claiming that she'll lose work now that people know how old she is. Even for a thesp, I find this amazingly dense. Everyone knows how old everyone in the public eye is, roughly, because we can all remember how old we were when we first became aware of them. Short of mass-brainwashing by Equity, no showbiz kid can ever swerve this one.
I find women – and it is generally women – who get incredulous or indignant that their youth has passed by as weird as those people who find it tragic or shocking that their parents or even grandparents die. Grow up! If people DIDN'T die, they'd be UnDead. Is that really what you want for your dear old silver-haired granny – to become a blood-sucking, corpse-feeding Nosferatu? Is it heck!
Similarly, some women seem to live in a permanent state of shock that they haven't, uniquely, escaped the ageing process. They feel aggrieved, often, that men seem to "get away" with it. But with Hugh Hefner left like a hapless tool at the altar by his latest blonde, and a new study linking sperm quality to age – apparently it goes off, just like eggs do – I wonder how long the sort of broad who loves to have something to moan about will be able to moan about this.
On the contrary, I think we ageing women are far more fortunate than our male contemporaries. We've been told for so long that we're only valid when we can spawn that any life the other side of the menopause comes as a revelation, let alone the example set by an increasing number of women who seem hell-bent on, quite rightly, spending their undeserving adult children's inheritances on leisure-wear and world cruises well into their seventies and beyond. Widows, after the initial shock of their husbands' deaths, prove relatively robust, while widowers tend to shrivel up and fade away.
Whenever some raddled old male hack points out that a woman is not – shock horror! – as young as she used to be, I snigger to myself, because I know what his problem is, nine times out of ten. He's cross because he's getting worse in bed as he gets older, and he increasingly has to pay for sex – one way or another – and because the same thing doesn't happen to women.
Ageing men project their own incredulous envy of the way that women are sexually harassed when young on to us, and don't understand what a relief it often is to be free of it. We don't have to go into our dotage pulling ourselves off like crazed, senile adolescents because no one will touch us with a barge pole. And every time this image comes into my head, I laugh like a dirty-minded adolescent. And I like it there fine for a visit, but I'm always glad to come home to middle-age again.
I've just seen Marina Pepper, the Lib-Dem/Green local politico, on the TV mouthing off in defence of the Dale Farm "Travellers". I've commented before on how odd it is that Vanessa Redgrave, who surely imagines herself "progressive", supports the "strong, wise, warm and gentle" DFTs, just the latest in cheerleading for cultures – Chechen nationalists, Palestinian goons – that appear to find homosexuality an abomination. But of course, the socially conservative travelling culture stands accused of sexism making Pepper's backing even more confused and confusing. Still, the oppression of women has never stopped Westerners such as Jemima Khan, Lauren Booth and Yvonne Ridley cosying up to Islam – and in Khan's case, to a man accused of sexual assault who wrote in his autobiography of hitting a girl on the head with hammers because she WOULDN'T SHARE! Caitlin Moran fingered Jordan as "Vichy France with tits" in her book How To Be A Woman, but how much more this applies to the political equivalent of those weird women who write love letters to jailed rapists.
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