Having a wander through my blog roll - which is enormous and why I don't get to look at each blog as often as I would like - I came across this on Ellen Datlow's LJ where she has something to say about the way older women are depicted in books and film.
As a woman of mature years myself I am continually amazed at the depiction of women over fifty as somehow on the road to decrepitude while men are apparently ruggedly attractive. It's particularly noticeable in movies and on television where we actually see pairings of the young and beautiful woman with the ageing man. Men, it seems in the world of film, grow more attractive and women - well, in most of these productions, once over fifty, they either morph into The Mother (even today she seems to spend much of her life cooking), The Cougar - what a ridiculous term that is - who is in desperate and inappropriate search of her lost youth or The Dotty but Loveable Fool while in books they often just vanish.
I can't remember ever seeing a steamy love scene involving a sixty or seventy something woman with anyone, let alone with a twenty something man and we see far too many of them, in my opinion, between an older man and a much younger woman (young enough to be his granddaughter in some cases). These are the scenes where the camera focusses lovingly on the youthful beauty while the man is barely visible because, let's face it, his body, just a like a woman's of the same age, is no longer what it was. This, of course, doesn't prevent the man acting as the hero or the romantic lead and nor should it. Movies are fantasy after all but it would be nice if they didn't ignore a very large part of the population. Women don't disappear as they age in real life. Why do they in books and film?
The truth is that while women age so do men. Neither looks like their youthful self and, with maturity, their interests have changed as much as their appearance has. This doesn't mean either is nothing more than a collection of sagging wrinkles, shuffling towards death. In fact most of the women I know in their sixties and seventies are full of life and enjoying new interests as are the men but they are accorded respect while women are not.
Let's be realistic here. Ageing is a progression we all go through and to relegate women to obscurity or to depict them as worn out seekers after a lost youth while pretending the same does not apply to men is highly insulting.