The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Beware. Looks Can Be Deceiving …

A few weeks ago, I walked into our lounge to see Jill watching the very first edition of The Golden Girls. For those of you too young to know what it is, have a look at this ‘best bits’ compilation.

After a couple of minutes, Jill asked me to guess how old the main characters were supposed to be in the show.

Given the name of the program and the style of fashion they were wearing, I suggested in their early to late 60’s.

I was wrong.

Jill told me that the ages were 47,53 and 55.

Or said another way, I was older than one and just a few years behind the others.

Then she hit me with this …

The characters were supposed to be the same age as the women in the reboot of Sex And The City.

To help explain why this news impacted me, have a look at this.

Now we are talking about ‘character age’ not real age … plus the ‘backgrounds’ of each show are about as different as you can get … but still.

Then a few days later, this was posted featuring Dorothy from the Golden Girls and Lisa Rinna from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Again, one is in character and the other is … OK, probably also in character … but the shift in age perception – or presentation of it – is startling.

On one hand there’s something awesome about it.

While I – and society – absolutely don’t want to see me sashaying down the street wearing designer clothes and botox lips … the idea that people in their 50’s don’t have to hide themselves away and can feel they are an active member and contributor to society is awesome.

However by the same token, the thought you may need to match the look and behaviour of people much younger than you, just so you can be ‘validated’ is terrifying.

Now of course women have been facing this situation for centuries, which is why the older I get, the more I realise what a brilliant role model I had in my Mum.

You see she always believed age didn’t defy you, your interest in what was happening in culture did.

It’s why she followed emerging artists in film, music, art, literature and politics.
It’s why she would go to a classical concert as well as watch new comedians.
It’s why she viewed ‘growing old gracefully’ as being interested in what others are interested in rather than extracting yourself from modern life because ‘it was easier that way’.

Now this didn’t mean she always like what she saw and learned – and she most certainly wasn’t going to dress in the latest trends and fashions – but she wanted to contribute to life rather than criticise it simply because it was continually evolving.

Which helps explain why I found the Golden Girls/Sex And The City comparison so amazing.

Because dramatic shift in terms of fashion and looks aside, the reality is ageing – especially for women – hasn’t really evolved at all.

Sure, you may not have to ‘hide yourself away’ as much as you used to, but looks are still the foundation of validity and fashion is still the criteria for relevance.

How utterly fucked is that?

For all the talk of modernity, the reality is not much has changed. In fact, it’s arguably even worse now as there is the illusion it’s actually better.

But it’s not.

White men are still born with inherent advantage.

As a 51 year old, badly dressed man, I still receive incredible benefits.

So don’t let the exposure of older, female actresses sway you from the reality.

Sexism and ageism is alive and well.

It’s something perpetuated by the media and championed by society the world over.

In simple terms, if you have to ‘look’ the part to be seen by others, something is fucked up.

And women have to do that more than men. Fact.

Growing old is enough of a pain in the arse without having to deal with that shit.

Which is why it would be so much better if we valued interest rather than image.

Another thing I need to thank my Mum for.

25 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I adore this post Robert.

Comment by Mary Bryant

There is a lot to unpack in this post, but the best proof of your point is the leaked Supreme Court document referring to Roe v Wade.

Comment by Pete

Men wanting to decide what women can and should do.

Comment by Jemma King

The loading of the Supreme Court has been a Republican plan over many years. This is just the next chapter of their plan to drag us back to the 50s.

Comment by Pete

All supported by the men and women of the religious right. I read somewhere this is not about abortion, it is about keeping the poor in a cycle of debt, because if they really cared about the issue, they would invest in sex education and contraception. The rich will always be able to get their abortion needs fulfilled.

Comment by Pete

The Republican’s have played the long game to ensure they are in a position of power, regardless of who is in the White House.

House of Cards didn’t come close to capturing the level of evil manipulation going on.

Comment by DH

america is doing shit it used to threaten nations with war for doing. the only reason it keeps saying its the land of the fucking free is because rich fuckers never pay for any shit. they just get the poor to buy it for them. seriously thinking it may be time to fucking bail.

Comment by andy@cynic

and sam alito needs a good fucking kicking.

Comment by andy@cynic

Very true. But are you really thinking of leaving???

Comment by Rob

maybe. or at least spend more time out the fucking place. might come and live with you in nz campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

Your mama was the greatest Robbie.

Comment by Jemma King

Definitely up there with them, ha.

Comment by Rob

i used to hate lisa rinna for all her look at me bullshit, then worked out it wasnt ego but survival and she can be as over the fucking top as she likes. that offer doesnt apply to you campbell and your insta oversharing crap.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yeah … I know what you mean. Some of it can be cringey … but I once read she has been the main breadwinner for the family for years and so if that is what she has to do to keep putting bread [albeit expensive bread] on the table, then good on her. That she has to be so blatant to be ‘worthy’ of any attention reinforces how prejudice the system is against woman. Ironic that the US Senate want to make that even more the case. Astonishing really.

Comment by Rob

You have done worse Rob.

Comment by DH

Nothing highlights how society writes off women than a TV network calling a show with women supposedly 47, 53 and 55 the ‘Golden Girls’.

Comment by Bazza

God that’s such a good point.

Comment by Rob

It was because three of them were widows.

Comment by John

Is that a well known term John? I’ve never heard it.

Comment by Bazza

No. I phrased that awkwardly. I may be misremembering, but I have this idea that the original concept and title came from a feamle writer/producer who was interested in exploring the lives of single women in their sixties and older, but the network insisted on their ages being more advertiser-friendly. Maybe the fact that the ages aren’t made explicit in the scripts is evidence of pushback from the creators. In summary, it’s advertising’s fault.

Comment by John

Everything is advertising’s fault.

If your memory is correct, it would be interesting to know what the instruction to the wardrobe department was. Dress them for the ages they were meant to be or what the writers wanted them to be? Keeping the Golden Girls name suggests the writers may have won more of the argument than the network. Or it is just reflects how society/media viewed woman over 30 to be presented.

Comment by Bazza

So a female writer was told how to present women by male TV execs. Not too much has changed.

Comment by Jemma King

That occurred to me too. I guess we’d have to look at other TV shows from that time to get a comparison but my guess is that their central female characters would all be in their 20s or 30s.

Comment by John

Excellent Robert. It is also nice to read the comments delving deeper into the issues raised in the post.

Comment by Lee Hill

Great post (Nothing more to add here, just letting you know I read it)

Comment by Rob (The other one)

Leave a Reply