GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
SAGEISM: How To Be An Older Woman
129 x 198 mm
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How To Be An Older Woman
Sageism is a celebration of growing older and wiser. It’s a desire for a society that reveres the wisdom of experience and is an alternative to the current climate where middle-aged and older women are judged simply by whether they’ve managed to look ten years younger than they are. Not much of an achievement if it all came about by lucky genes or a surgeon with an eye on his or her bank balance. So let’s celebrate getting older - after all, it’s so much better than the alternative.
Women who have reached middle-age, and I’m one of them, are too often made to feel invisible and are consequently retreating into dark corners. It’s about time we came out into the light and shouted about how great older women are and how much they have to contribute to this society, which is sadly still rife with ageism and sexism.
The time is right for this. There are many examples in this book of middle-aged women being discriminated against or ridiculed. But the tide is beginning to turn. Attitudes show some small signs of changing, and we must keep that momentum going. We need to learn how to live our lives as middle-aged women with confidence in a world that mostly wants equality even if it’s going the long way round to get there. The trouble with tides turning is we can miss it and get stranded, or we can get swept along with a feeling of being out of control. So let’s ride the waves and create a few of our own. Last cliché. Promise. Well almost.
It should be easy to be an older woman. There is, after all, some truth in the maxims – ‘older and wiser’ and we ‘mellow with age’. We’ve been around a few decades and we may not have seen it all but we’ve seen a fair sized chunk of it. We must have
learnt something from our mistakes and we’re, well, calmer somehow. More measured, less frenzied. Unless we’re having a bit of a hormone imbalance episode of course. (See, we can even poke fun at ourselves.)
Why does it feel like we’ve got the double-barrelled shotgun of ageism and sexism pointing straight at us, making us eager to hide away and keep out of the firing line? When we should be catching the bullets in our teeth, spitting them out and saying – yes, I’m older, yes I’m a woman. AND I’M GLAD. But we don’t say that we’re pleased to be an older woman. All right, we might whisper it but there’s usually a loud voice inside our heads drowning it out by shouting that it would be better if we were younger. Just a tad. Well a few years, really. In fact knock a couple of decades off and we’ll all be happy. Why? Where is the logic in being ashamed of being older? Why do so many of us suffer from failed-to-be-young syndrome?
It’s like being ashamed of having two feet or being embarrassed that Wednesday follows Tuesday. How can we be ashamed of not inventing a clock that ticks slowly back in time until we eventually crawl back into our mother’s womb? We might as well be ashamed we didn’t quite manage to connect with alien life forms and create a new species. WE’RE BEING ASHAMED, EMBARRASSED AND IN DENIAL OF THE MOST NATURAL THING IN THE WORLD. Yes, we all get older.
This is a book which will celebrate being a middle-aged and older woman, while acknowledging that we exist in a society which seems intent on doing the opposite. We have been excluded from so many aspects of society, from modelling clothes to presenting on television, from being listened to as an expert in our field to performing on stage. The old song tells us to ‘keep young and beautiful if you want to be loved.’ Why? Isn’t it about time we challenged both the obvious and the subtle ageism and sexism in our society so we can regain our rightful place in the world and hold our heads up with real confidence. It’s no good sitting at home whinging about it all, we all have to play our part in ensuring attitudes are changed so we must all GET OUT THERE AND LIVE. Live our lives the way we want to and not how we are told we ought to. And if all this sounds a bit earnest, then fear not because we are going to have a laugh together as we take this journey.
Did I just write ‘journey’? Sorry, I won’t write it again. Or inner child. It’s really not that sort of book.
Feminism for the over-forties
Packed with information, advice and humour, SAGEISM addresses all the issues middle aged and older women want to discuss, laugh about and change.
It considers what we learnt from our mothers, what we want to pass on to our daughters and where we are now.
SAGEISM helps older women deal with ageism and sexism without losing their sense of humour.
With chapters on everything from sex to confidence, from appearance to death, from the Menopause to children leaving home, it is a bible for feminists who are reaching maturity and a manual on how to be an older woman.
Clare Shaw was born in Cornwall and has been writing for as long as she remembers.
Her first books were four Parenting books, published by Hodder which she wrote after a stint working for ‘Parents’ and ‘Practical Parenting’ magazines.
In 2008 her novel ‘The Mother and Daughter Diaries’ was published. Her radio play, ‘Selling Shoes in Southend’, was produced by Frequency Theatre as a result of being one of the winners in a competition with Essex Books Festival in conjunction with the BBC. A radio play was broadcast on Radio North.
Clare lives in Essex with John and has two daughters.
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