(Or all the Fads, Fantasies and Fallacies of a Not-So Grumpy Older Woman!)
Change the World – that was the creative and challenging catch-cry confronting some baby boomer female adolescents growing up in the halcyon days of the 1960s in middle class Melburbia. As teenagers then, we hadn’t heard of anorexia, angst or anxiety, and were instead intent on abandoning the conventions and conformity of our staid, suburban style of parenting, because, as Bob Dylan had so wisely instructed us, times they are a’changing. We rhapsodized over the new rhythms of rock n’roll, borrowing our beliefs from The Beatles to Love Me Do and calling Beethoven’s bluff (at least, he couldn’t raise us back). We chanted the rhetoric of flower power, wanting to make love, not war. We were peaceniks with a positive plan of action for a life ahead that promised everything and anything we wanted, ready to take on a new role as the huntress, instead of the hunted. It was the dawning of a New Age, with a whole new meaning for life, love and the pursuit of happiness (probably hedonism – not a dirty word- more likely), where we welcomed Women’s Lib with a bravado verging on the bold and beautiful.
Now, four decades later, it’s another New Age – the Age of the Femmosexual, a woman on her own (eternally single or happily divorced), without a male or female partner, aged somewhere over 50, who has tossed out Feminism, aka Women’s Lib, because it was a fake. She might be alone, but is no longer lonely, only occasionally bored, hankering after creative conversation and trivial, even vacuous gossip as much as lusting after carnal pleasure. Reflecting on the rapturous days of Women’s Lib in the 70s, The Femmosexual has realized that some women were their own worst enemies, taking themselves far too seriously and losing their sense of humour in the war they were waging for themselves. As many strode down the avenue of afflictions with cigarettes poised glamorously between their fingers and alcohol at easy reach, they indulged their lust in the beds of many, with real men the sure things who embraced the sexual cravings of a pill popping tribe of women intense about discovering and realizing their own sexual identity.
They wanted to be their own women and Have It All; the power, the love, the money and the success, living their lives in the here and now and giving life their best shot. Some were called dangerous, even deranged and debauched as they got pissed, slept around, albeit in love and out of love (the accepted norms of behaviour for many young men, however), desperately trying to grab new opportunities and withstand the attacks on their self as they undermined the status quo. As the 60s and 70s turned into the 80s, some of the women became Superwomen and seemed to get it all (a mere minority, however), others stopped caring amidst the daily battles of survival (at least, overtly), while still millions of other women (the silent majority), slaved away over their men and low paid jobs wondering what Feminism – yes, that word, meant to them at all.
While I completely acquiesced to equal rights and opportunities that Feminism proposed, the ideology of many of these women didn’t appeal; too many of them castigated men as they donned denim overalls and desexed their appearance. I loved many so-called masculine pursuits such as Australian Rules football (indeed, I was an incorrigible addict!) and cricket, often swilling beers in the bars alongside the men and calling myself a macho female, albeit a larrikin of the female kind, instead of a female chauvinist, as some men labelled me. I enjoyed the company of men (some, at least), and walked a tightrope between satisfying my lust and demanding gender equality, a conflict that now, at 50-plus, I have finally reconciled (what others think just doesn’t matter anymore).
But catching sight of my grey hair, wrinkled visage and slower steps, it’s a very different scenario I face as a Femmosexual. Lusting after footballers and cricketers when you’re old enough to be their grandmother is so infra dig that it’s hard to even admit to. And now, aged 50-plus, social innuendo envelops us as we’re told, albeit insidiously, that we must live lust free, love free, too, presumably, and be content with lingering, long conversations over lattes in our local environs. As I indulge in this new recreational pastime, I am now a café slut (as opposed to the more usual variety), playing musical coffee shops around Melburbia. I am supposedly too old to still cherish a passion for the intimate delights of the flesh, too slow to do the work I still enjoy and too menopausal to flirt with the fantasies of fun and frivolity. I must hide from the mirror to thwart the reality of my decrepitude by denying my flabby upper arms, sagging breasts, well-rounded belly, baggy buttocks with ingrained cellulite, not to mention my increasingly arthritic joints. I must also ensure that my reading glasses are the most modern and trendy on display because I’ve realized that Dorothy Parker certainly knew what she was talking about when she said men don’t make passes at women who wear glasses.
Indeed, I must reckon with a new agenda of HRT, hot flushes, painful bunions and high cholesterol (and the odd push-up bra), while I monitor my blood pressure with mundane regularity. The Pill has now been replaced by other medical concoctions that equip me to live longer and be healthier, but for what, when I am supposedly a Grumpy Old Woman without anything to say and nothing left to contribute. Middle age has already been and gone – now the real rot has set in, they’d have me believe. But revelling in her maturity, The Femmosexual has attained a real sense of self; strong, resilient and responsible, supporting herself economically, while often still struggling to get what she deserves.
And as I continue to make my way through life (what’s supposedly left of it), I can still hanker after sex, too (at least, that never went out of fashion, even if I have to fantasise in the dark more than I used to and visit the local sex shop for the appendage I need), entertain lustful dreams about my male sporting heroes, drink in the pub with the boys downtown, flirting amorously with some of them, without now expecting them to flirt with me back (most of them, that is). I might no longer wear my sexuality on my sleeve (did I DO that?), and while some of my Femmosexual friends might no longer be a size 8, who now cares, when loose, flowing garb is more sensual and subtle than clinging apparel. Indeed, thunder thighs place us in a new kind of thoroughbred class; no longer on the race track, but not yet out to pasture either. And as we loll on the beach in a one piece swimsuit, alongside more sexy and younger bikini-clad women, we can enjoy ourselves without fear of fading into oblivion. We can still read Vogue too, to appease our passion for the artistry of beautiful clothes (at least, I do) and visit the galleries, movies and concerts, including the classical ones now (we called Beethoven back to show us his hand), as well as rock (we haven’t got that old, yet). I am still at heart, a peacenik, protesting in the streets about the slaughter in Iraq and campaigning for social and economic justice and an end to world poverty. I also still care about the plight of millions of other women oppressed, raped, abused and starving around the world. Men too, who can be victims in their own right. They’re not all imbued with the confidence and self-assurance we once might have thought.
I still enjoy reading newspapers, perusing with wry humour stories about some women now paying for male prostitutes (is this the newest profession?) to satisfy their lust, but I hope I can find what I need without doling out the dollars; besides, I can’t afford it. I have also learned to laugh at myself with all my idiosyncrasies, as I step gingerly into the sex shop to measure up the latest technology, without caring who sees me go in there. Borrowing the parlance of sport, a passionate part of my Ockerina personality I still cherish, I have won, like many other Femmosexuals, my own personal premiership, having worked hard on myself and finally happy with who I am and how I live my life. I’ve been batting on my own wicket for decades, struggling to make the runs I needed for my own life against the hard and fast balls bowled at me (including the odd painful bouncer). The Femmosexual might have a great career, or work in a more menial low paid job, but her superficial status is irrelevant to her own sense of self, having learned to live through herself, for herself, without needing the external trappings of success; the career or the partner, to define her. She feels a million dollars all on her own. She is the archetypal macho female, having absorbed into her own, real psyche the best of male attributes such as fortitude, courage and determination to power it over herself, so no one else can power it over her. As a Femmosexual, she can shrug off the hurt society still throws at her (could she be a lesbian?), happily meeting her own demands instead of worrying about the expectations of others. For me, there’s no need for a facelift or nose job, and I don’t even know what Botox really is. I don’t like gyms either, preferring to walk, even hobble, in glamorous high heels (so-called comfortable shoes can stay in the shoe shops), and lift weights in my own living room to offset osteoporosis, but I would happily accept an offer to have my teeth whitened after too many years of cigarettes, claret and caffeine. I love Dior perfume, but stick by basic Vitamin E cream as a moisturizer, instead of falling prey to Clarins, while the odd facial doesn’t go astray, either.
The Femmosexual is not your fledgling feminist all grown up, but a woman who’s her own person who simply refuses to ‘grow’ grumpy. Long live the fountain of love, lust and lattes for the new Generation Z (Greek for freedom, Australian for LIFE!) of women as they still pursue their hedonistic delights in an altogether individual way.