I was talking about how women over 50 feel invisible to a younger woman who said she had never heard of any such thing. Of course she hadn’t. I told her to google it.
So I thought I’ll google it too to see what she might find. And I was sorely disappointed. I found articles on women at 50 who feel invisible because society, especially men, no longer find them attractive. And I found articles by women at 50 who were angry that men’s judgement of your beauty should in any way define you at the age of 50.
Women over 50 do not feel invisible because society doesn’t find them pretty.
It’s much larger than that and more insidious.
Women over 50 feel invisible because society is done with them, especially if you are single. Not that women who are in relationships or married don’t feel invisible too, they do. Your marital / relationship status doesn’t matter. It’s your AGE.
For some reason you go from a career woman on the move, to someone who doesn’t know what’s happening in the world. Well, YOU don’t, but public perception does. All of a sudden with grey hair, you’re either a grumpy old coot or a sweet little old lady. Both of which are dismissed from having anything worthwhile to offer. All of a sudden, you can’t possibly be tech savvy or knowledgeable about anything except maybe rotary phones and history. And if you are a career woman, you better hold on to the job you have, because, you won’t be able to find a new one. Sagely wise men can be well into their 80’s and still sit in a CEO chair, but the 50-year-old woman will find herself competing for jobs with a 35-year-old. She has half the experience, but appears to be more edgy and in tune, and so the job goes to the millennial.
And it’s not just about careers. It’s every day life. There is a problem with the way men will look at a woman over 50 and glance away, and it has nothing to do with sexual appeal. You’re simply not there. The glance you get is the same others give a homeless man. A glance that registers your existence, quickly decides there’s nothing worth engaging, and moves on to more pressing matters.
And it’s more than men. It’s ok to ignore older women. Trying to get service in any retail shop, at a bar or restaurant. They just don’t see you.
And just last week Elizabeth Warren, a woman of a certain age, was silenced in the Senate. A senator. A scholar. An elected official. Silenced by men. Not until four other men, stood up were the words that Warren had wished to read, finally spoken.
It pisses me off. A lot of women I know are also pissed off about it.
I see them turning away from societal norms, to doing things in their lives that are important and matter to them. I see these women raising funds, mentoring, volunteering, and sharing. I see them counsel younger women to show them what they are in for as they age, and starting fires in their chests about making sure they won’t live the same fate. I see them getting involved more and more in politics.
Women in this country are being silenced, marginalized, ignored, dismissed and forgotten. More of us, more than just those over 50, are becoming invisible.
I’ve always been vocal about politics but until recently I didn’t DO anything about them. I voted and shared opinions and debated. Now I resist. I persist. I protest. I write notes on Facebook pages, send emails, make calls and mail postcards. If you don’t see me, I will make sure that I am present and accounted for. If your gaze is dismissive to me the same as the homeless, then I will fight for you to see them, and me. If your gaze is dismissive to immigrants, then I will protest until you see them, and me. If your gaze dismisses the beauty of our land, and the need to protect its resources, I will make sure you see that, and see me.
When it comes to the marginalized, I am, we are, indivisible. And when it comes to changing the world, I will no longer settle for being invisible.