Now aged 60-plus, Still Not Out! With some of the same Fads, Fantasies and Fallacies of a Not-So Grumpy, Even Older Woman
Penning The Fabulous Femmosexual piece 10 years ago, I started my blog three years later and so posted this original piece. Since then, I have written over 200 posts and am revisiting being a Fabulous Femmosexual to mark this year’s International Women’s Day, celebrated, if that is applicable, for more than 100 years on March 8.
Certainly, there is much to celebrate in the past decade of my life as a somewhat older and hopefully, wiser female (It’s all relative!) Still on my own without a male partner, I’ve enjoyed only two men in sexual dalliances in that time, celibate by circumstance, not choice. I am yet to buy a dildo but invented my own domestic vibrator using my electric toothbrush as a sex toy as healthy dildos are expensive, costing more than $200. I was amused last year to discover on the internet an 18-carat gold dildo for sale as a new line of luxury sexual apparatus, cost $26,000; clearly for the rich and famous missing out on the Real Thing. I never did want to accept substitutes, but the toothbrush is much more economically cost effective and works wonders, at least in part.
I’ve written posts about women’s increasing play with sex toys and at the same time, how many have not ever experienced an orgasm. Simultaneously, in one of Melbourne’s popular daily newspapers the day following IWD, was a small news article about how sex at night can boost your work performance the next day by making your mood better by five per cent. This beneficial effect at work, for both men and women so lustfully inclined, apparently lasted for 24 hours. Good news perhaps for those able to indulge, but it was the headline “HOW LOVE CAN REALLY WORK” that indicated that maybe nothing has changed in a century, if not centuries for both men and women, with love seemingly a prerequisite for sex. Why wasn’t the headline: “HOW SEX CAN REALLY WORK?”
Obviously, I don’t know the answer except to ponder whether the headline writer was a male still entertaining a prudish and puritanical perspective enshrining love as integral for sex, especially good sex that could boost your mood the next day at work. Maybe the writer was a female, possibly more credible, but gender is irrelevant, only reflecting antiquated assumptions about sex sadly still inherent in our social milieu for too many people locked in a moral and ignorant prison, albeit on the inside without bars. What else is new?
Moreover, of the two men I had sex with; one was a 25-year-old, French visitor to Australia and it was no more than a two-night stand, the sex enjoyable without being that exciting. I drew a red line through his name. The other man, a few years younger than me and on his own too, though not for wont of trying to find a female partner online, didn’t lust after me the way I did him. Having sex a few times, he no longer wanted to participate. That was disappointing as he talked about being friends with benefits but somehow, the benefits got lost amidst the sheets. Indeed, he is the sexiest man I have ever had sex with (and they’ve been scores of those), but fortunately, there was another unforseen benefit, not of the carnal kind however, but relating to another aspect of my life, my work. Without informing me of his endeavour, he completely revamped and redesigned my prosaic blog site replacing it with a creative and enlivening website on which you’re reading this. As good friends, platonic for the past twelve months or so, we enjoy hours of conversation together, some in vehement disagreement others in mutual confirmation as we share joints and meals.
On an altogether different level, financially my existence has changed dramatically in a decade from applauding my economic independence in the workforce to an older woman believed incapable of employment due to ageism. Living on a pension in an apartment owned by family members minus assets other than about $5,000 worth of furniture and clothes, I am also a legally declared bankrupt unable to furnish my credit card debt. Without any credit cards now, I live on cash, a difficult challenge but I manage quite well and get by with a little help from some friends on occasion. This importunate fact of life I have had no control over, earning a pittance over too many years without substantial superannuation or fair remuneration. It doesn’t depress me, just validates a reality endured by thousands of women of my generation. We may have been baby boomers of the swinging sixties, but we were pushed off the swing to land on our arse and nobody helped us get back up, struggling to support ourselves rather than depend on some man who had no respect for us as worthy human beings.
It’s simply the way my life panned out as I took calculated risks which I believed were based on a track record of hard work with outstanding results, but I was naive about being over 60 and no longer considered worthy of gainful employment. Yet, I still work, occasionally selling an article to a newspaper, but it’s only about every two months, earning about $200 per article. Other attempts for publication have failed.
While I’m not writing specifically for monetary gain now, taking delight in the publication of my own ideas and creative endeavour with the written word, the articles rejected have endowed me with new insights about the media. Knowing most of those rejected are well-written, it is my ideas that are rejected as contrary to socially-acceptable feminist and political ideology. Moreover, a couple of articles I wrote about sex seem infra dig, the subject still taboo unless it’s about love and intimacy with tenderness and gentility as part of the tapestry. Animalistic expression or indulging our primal instincts in consenting mutual pleasure doesn’t deserve publication in the popular press, let alone even acknowledging our sexuality as innately human as a female adolescent.
The rejections have saddened me over the past couple of years as it appears that ideas that contradict the status quo are tossed aside for those that confirm it. A few different editors, male and female both, usually proffer the reason for the rejection as per usual, money. The bullshit abounds and that is depressing; an honest acknowledgement that my ideas are not suitable for their media agenda would be refreshing. No such response forthcoming.
Feelings of sadness about the slow pace of change are not thank goodness my exclusive domain as in an article published (yes, indeed!) in The Age a couple of days before IWD, businesswomen Janette Kendall, a non-executive director at organisations including Costa, Wellcom Worldwide and the Melbourne Theatre Company, said she just feels “deeply saddened that cultural shifts haven’t occurred. We’ve all worked with extraordinary men but then there are those men with questionable values in the workplace, and they’re in positions of power and their behaviour remains unchallenged. It’s incredibly sad.” Partly acquiescing with her sentiments, I also feel sad that she singles out men as the culprits in a blame game for women’s continuing inability to secure more places on corporate boards.
What I want to know is exactly how many women have seriously tried to become board members and of that number, how many have actually been rejected due to gender? Moreover, if shareholders vote for board members, how is that vote split on gender lines among the shareholders? Indeed, in the ASX 200 companies, what percentage of women are shareholders and on what basis do they vote? I raise these questions because for many women, gender can be an irrelevant issue as it can be for men too, evidenced big time in the US election with more women voting for male Trump than female Clinton. That’s one perspective only because it may well be that gender IS a very relevant issue in terms of women’s attitudes to women, considering that CEO of successful tech company, ThoughtWorks, Rebecca Parsons, said late last year that both men AND women were harder on women and TV media celebrity, Lisa Wilkinson, acknowledged women can be “unkind” to women only three years ago. Other women, admittedly just a few I’m aware of in the west, have recognised the same antipathy of women towards women. As much as we need to culturally shift attitudes of men as Kendall sadly laments, it is just as imperative we explore, examine and understand the basis of women’s unkindness to women.
Maybe the real challenge is for gender to become a non-issue as is the focus of a Victorian Government and VicHealth $7 million female sports’ campaign called ChangeourGame with the tag line: “SEE THE PLAYER, NOT THE GENDER.” I’ve been crusading about that perspective most of my life and it is encouraging that concept is now in the public spotlight, albeit about sport. It is a 2017 appreciation about the irrational and inequitable restraints of gender stereotypes and what must now transpire is for that understanding to be encompassed across our entire social milieu in all walks of life.
My passion for fashion is still extant and considering gender norms it is pertinent to take note of what American Vogue editor, Anna Wintour, recently said about fashion, declaring “no norm is the new norm.” A great catch phrase, this could well be extrapolated to embrace attitudes and behaviours in a myriad of areas and abandon all gender specific norms so we “See the person, Not the gender…” as a new fashionable agenda for social, economic and political interaction.
Pursuing my lust for clothes on a very limited budget in the past few years has sharpened my eye for what really suits me and what I feel good in, still revelling in looking “sexy” in my 60s. It is oft maligned in the media that older women are “invisible”; glad to say I don’t feel that way, receiving compliments from younger and older women about how good I look, age seemingly irrelevant. Glancing at older women in my environs, I’m unsurprised at the invisible lament; they are mostly fat, dowdily dressed and asexual. Life with all its excitement seems part of their past, not present, saddening me too as I still occasionally hobble around on high heels, in tight, skinny jeans hoping I look sexy. Have these women, and most older men, too, succumbed to a self-inflicted ageist mythology that decries having a good time sexually and lustfully in a chance encounter? Is fun no longer on their agenda, believing they’ve passed their use-by-date for hedonistic indulgence, be it by having a great meal with disparate people with age, gender, colour, creed and sexual diversity irrelevant, let alone smoking dope and enjoying a good glass of red out in the noisy environs of the street? Seemingly they instead stay cocooned in their comfortable abodes in staid, boring suburbia talking about the latest feats of their grandchildren; their social bubble secure and safe for the rest of their inane lives as well as of course posting their grandchildren’s ‘cute’ pix on Facebook, Instagram and other avenues of social media.
It seems the conservative, conventional and conformist lifestyles I eschewed all my life still pervade, appealing to most people while I can only reiterate as I wrote 10 years ago that I’m so pleased that lifestyle never attracted me. Enjoying my own company as well as meeting anyone who wants to converse with me and vice-versa is still the mantra of my life, grateful I never had kids, thriving on being my own person with my own time to do what I want and need when I want and need, money permitting. After purchasing good and healthy food and paying the telephone and electricity bills, I have little money remaining to attend concerts, dance performances and other interests I once enjoyed. However, I do continue to smoke though my nicotine indulgence has greatly reduced choosing to buy tailor-made cigarettes not tickets to artistic events. That was a choice I made several years ago and I have no desire to revoke it. I enjoy smoking.
The reality of love AND sex with a special man however seems to have by passed me, though I abandoned that as fantasy decades ago. I do share love with a gay guy of 32 years I met through a shared interest in politics nearly three years ago, also engaging in hours of conversation over meals, cups of tea and smoking joints. I don’t have other friends apart from the guy I mentioned earlier and don’t feel any need to establish more relationships, my adage that whoever turns up in my life turns up. Indeed, a couple of past girlfriends have tried to renew friendships with me, but I am no longer interested in them as they are simply not on my wavelength nor grandkid braggarts, either. It’s just my passionate interests were never theirs and they rarely evinced any interest in my writing, my ideas or thoughts, having stopped wanting to spend my time with people just for the sake of it, now far more selective about who I spend time with.
One interesting development is that over 12 months ago, I started writing a non-fiction book about myself, love and sex and it’s fascinating to reflect on past experiences about both love and sex and particularly to re-read many of the feminist books and books on men I purchased and read decades ago. My work still dominates my life, realising even more in the past ten years how important intellectual stimulation is for me and to be challenged about my ideas and thoughts. It doesn’t happen as often as I would like.
Another realisation is that sometimes I can still be naive, for wont of a better word, believing attitudes have changed when they haven’t, but I am certainly more circumspect about speaking out about my opinions and ideas and to whom I speak out about them. I just write instead for whoever wants to read me. At the same time, I feel stronger about myself in that I care even less than I did a decade ago about what others think of me, pursuing my own wants and needs irrespective of others with just one proviso that what I do is of no harm to those others.
At 67, I eat really healthily and walk as much as I can, feeling fortunate that I still can with relative ease and comfort. My independence, physically, intellectually, sexually and emotionally are integral to enjoying my life as a strong, sexy, bright and healthy ‘older’ woman who still regards myself as a success even if it’s not reflected in my bank account. That never was pertinent for me.
I wrote at 30 about ‘most people’ in our modern society in one of my unpublished novels realising even then I wasn’t one of them and now, nearly four decades later, feel even more confirmed in my understanding of self, feeling ‘rich’ in my own right and still believing life is out there to be lived and cherished to the full with whoever wants to know me that I want to know, too. A positive about ageing some have acknowledged is that what others think of them becomes less significant and indeed, I heartily concur with that believing as I did at 19 that I am still my own best friend and to thine own self be true.
Debate about the feminist label still occasionally hits the headlines and I too have reappraised what it means for me, realising feminism is intrinsic to who I am as it has been for 50-plus years of my life. Denounced and dismissed by many women as irrelevant, immaterial and inadmissible in their lives, understanding feminism to enhance women’s rights to live as they choose should be paramount among our populace, without engendering disrespect, disdain and discrimination for being different; likewise for men, too. Applauding individuality instead of it engendering antipathy should be inculcated in us all.
For both genders, stereotyped roles with proscribed attitudes, morals and behaviour still reign sacrosanct, with critical analysis of these roles extant, but seemingly unable to shift the entrenched and intransigent beliefs about these stereotypes. Indeed, in an article in the Herald Sun two days after IWD by male journalist, Tom Elliott, was about International Men’s Day on November 19, headlined: “In November, spare a thought for poor blokes” describing how men too missed out and were as much ‘victims’ in our system as many women believe they are. Many men can be just as ill-affected by stereotypes at work, at home and at play as I’ve contended for decades ad nauseum. What else is new?
Of course, as some psychological pundits postulate, change is slow and clearly some attitudes have changed as increasing numbers of women now sit in parliaments not just as MPs but as premiers and Australia did vote for its first female Prime Minister. The country also appointed its first female Governor-General. There are also more women across several prestigious professions and young girls are being educated to enhance their self-esteem, self-respect and more importantly, their self-belief, their gender now seemingly irrelevant in proscribing their aspirations.
In sport, a female jockey won the Melbourne Cup for the first time and the bastion of male chauvinism, the AFL, inaugurated a women’s league after more than a century of women kicking around a football for pleasure and fun for its own sake. There are many more avenues where women have made in roads to secure roles of responsibility, power and leadership across the social milieu and I can only hope that in another decade I can pen that genuine gender equity is even more pervasive so that IWD becomes more than a lipservice lament about women’s inequality and injustice. More significantly, as I wrote last year about IWD, maybe we can jettison both IWD and IMD to assert a new innovative and inspiring philosophical paradigm embracing our shared humanity rather than defending a political polarity of gender division.
This Fabulous Femmosexual is still glad to be a macho female who continues to celebrate being human on a daily basis with no special date in my calendar.