I am angry.
This week I was Threading through Threads and came across a post from a woman that said, among other things:
"How can I make my mother stop coloring her hair and just go grey? She's 62 and not fooling anyone; she and her friends are old and it's time that she acts her age."
Oh, hell no.
Let's Unpack This, Shall We?
First of all, let me express my sympathies to this unnamed woman. No; not the one that posted, the one that birthed her.
Honey, I am sure you did your best, but sometimes things just backfire and... well- this happens.
Please know that it wasn't due to any trauma you may have inadvertently delivered when she was younger: it had nothing to do with the car you drove, or the kiss goodbye in front of their friends, or playing disco music in the background while they were on the phone with their friends.
Your daughter is just rude. Asking this type of thing on a public forum is out of line.
Next: young woman: personal agency and autonomy is difficult for anyone to exert, and women in particular have been working together for years to exert theirs in the face of roaring opposition from virtually every 'authority figure' that exists.
And now you go and join them against your mother? Not cool.
Women already are told what they can and can't do, and now you are jumping in to remake your mom in the image you want to see? Here are some of the foolishness she and the rest of her generation has already had to get through- none of which you needed to face:
1966: Indira Gandhi became the first female Prime Minister of a present-day G20 country
1967: the first time a woman ran in the Boston Marathon
1969: a woman became a commercial pilot in the Western world.
1972: the first female rabbi in the United States was fully ordained.
1973: the first year women could serve on a jury in all 50 of the United States.
1974: Women could get a credit card and open a bank account without a male's co-signature and in their own name for the first time.
1975: the first time a woman reached the summit of Mount Everest.
1976: the first time a woman competed in the Indianapolis 500
1977: the first time women could take legal action against workplace sexual harassment
1978: the first year a woman couldn't get fired from a job if they got pregnant.
1980: the first time a woman was ordained a bishop in the United Methodist Church
1981: the first female US Ambassador to the United Nations
1984: Barbra Streisand became the first woman to win a Golden Globe for Best Director.
1987: Aretha Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
1989: I needed my husband's permission to have my tubes tied (true story)
1993: the first year women could legally say 'NO' to sex with their husband was when spousal rape was criminalized in all 50 United States.
1997: the first female U.S. Secretary of State
2000: Martha Stewart became the first self-made female billionaire.
2010: The first time an Oscar for Best Director was given to a woman.
And now comes you. In your wisdom you want to tell her how to live her life? Put her into a box of YOUR design, looking the way YOU want her to look, acting the way YOU think she should act?
I am ashamed for you, since you don't seem to have the sense to be ashamed of yourself (update: the Thread has since been deleted... I take minimal credit for that, but I do accept some credit).
Listen: the women of previous generations have the same rights that you do: to live their life in the way they want to live it.
We all have (IMO) one chance to live. As long as it hurts no one else: to take the risks we dare, wear the clothes we wish, have sex with whomever, whenever, and for as long as we want, to work in the careers that call us, express the opinions we hold dear.
Your mother, like all women, can choose to color her hair or not, wear it long or shave it off, wear short skirts or slacks, makeup or no, pierce her ears or tongue, get tattoos or have a tummy tuck.
It is her life.
You, sweetheart, are a dear and precious part of that life. But she was herself before she had you, and she is herself now, too.
Unless she asks for your opinion you don't get to have a say on what color her hair is. You don't have a say on her acting her age, whatever nonsense that might mean to you.
I hope, when you are her age, no one tries to force you into their idea of who, what, or how you should be. In fact, all of us women of her generation wish the world is an easier place for women by then, and that you would be free of all of those presumptions once and for all.
Comments, as always, are gladly welcomed!
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!