We have dozens of male action heroes. Strapping young men with defined muscles, chiseled jaws, and just a bit of fashionable scruff on their faces. We have a number of old men, too – their experince and cunning outweighs their slowing reflexes and decreasing muscle strength. In fact, tough old men are a popular Hollywood archetype as our population ages.
We have a decent number of young women who are no strangers to being tough when it counts and who fight with both their toned bodies and their wits.
But where are the old women?
I can think of only one – the older lady assassin in the movie “RED” (“Retired, Extremely Dangerous.”) She kicked ass, and she did so while dressed to kill. She is, however, a lone exception.
If you’ve seen the waves that a cosmetic surgery of a female star caused in Hollywood recently, you’re no stranger to the concept that women have an expiration date and cease to have value past the age of forty. Men are still out there, looking manly and capable, but it’s the lone exception of a female entertainer (and role model) who dares to show the wrinkles of experience and the stretch-marks of childbearing.
And isn’t that a shame?
Crones are cool. They are irreverent and hard to shock, and they offer a wealth of life experience to those who bother to listen.
My mother-in-law and I have a running disagreement over the word “crone.” I get that it’s considered derogatory by some, evocative of witches and Baga Yaga and shaky, toothless centagenarians in ethnic dress. Yet I think it’s high time to reclaim that word and make it a term of honor.
It’s time to introduce the action heroine whose silver hair matches her practical black and silver sneakers. A woman whose back is straight from decades of training, and who tries not to lean on her sword cane too hard to spare her arthritic knee. A heroine whose teaching and existence is the hub of a wheel of humanity. The spokes of that wheel are all those around her – men and women she’d taught and influenced, as well as their children or students.
She isn’t as strong as she used to be few decades ago, but she still makes one lousy ATM robbery target.
Never mind Hollywood and the heroic surgical efforts of aging stars. We’ll make our own role models. We’ll create crones who are old and strong and brave, who are technologically flexible and use their wit and experience in tough situations. Then we’ll strive to become them.
I, for one, aspire to becoming a really cool crone when I grow up.
(It took me a long time to find an image of an older woman in a physical situation. This one comes from “streetfightnorules” on blogspot, via pinterest.)