The limits of internal self-perception as the sole arbiter of truth

Glosswitch notes a certain lack of cordiality toward women who forget how to be young.

Being an older women is, by all accounts, grim. It’s not just that women in their fifties are hit hardest by the gender pay gap, with most drives for pay parity aimed at their younger countertparts. Nor is it simply that, to quote a recent Guardian correspondent, older women “face daily insinuations in the media that we are ugly”. As women get old, their age is seen to cast a shadow over every contribution they make and every belief they hold.

As shown by the recent furore over Germaine Greer lecturing at Cardiff University, it’s not enough to disagree with an older woman. One must cast her as “a dinosaur” facing “a slow and painful extinction”.

True story. As I’ve mentioned before, all this disdainful use of the label “second-wave” is very thinly veiled “fuck off and die you disgusting old hag.”

You would think, then, that younger feminists would champion the cause of older women. “Help the aged”, as Jarvis Cocker sang in a song only some people will remember, “’cos one day you’ll be older too”. To which, alas, the standard younger feminist response seems to be “no, I won’t. I’ll identify my way out of it.” Unfortunately older women have come to symbolise everything that contemporary feminism seeks to deny: biological necessity, the body, the limits of internal self-perception as the sole arbiter of truth. These women let themselves get old! How could they have been so stupid? Ageing is such a deeply unimaginative, essentialist thing to do!

Right? Right? Why don’t people get to “identify as” young? Why is it that age is still taken as a brute fact while sex/gender is taken as the opposite? Why isn’t internal self-perception decisive for all categories?

Asking that question is one of my Listed Crimes. I still don’t know the answer though.

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