If you are a woman of a certain age … let’s say 50+ … you may have noticed something. You no longer give a damn what other people think.
All that ‘model behavior’ we are taught just has to disappear at a certain point. I’m talking about those culturally-approved cues we learn as young girls in our pre-teen years.
For those of us who grew up in the 60’s, we had models like TV spy Honey West and those chic girls from The World of Henry Orient. I also had my older sisters Sarah and Lisa, who showed me how the world worked.
Sometimes being appropriate required a certain amount of lipstick (but never orange because that would make our uber-stylish mother plotz.) Sometimes it required we sit decorously and listen to the men drone on for hours.
In my case, it also required I be straight instead of gay — something I knew about myself at age 20 but managed to successfully hide, even from myself, for the next 30 years.
I counted on role models to show me the way. As a kid, I loved Honey West because she was powerful, authentic and real. (Okay, she was hot, too.) My Honey West doll even came with a tiny black plastic revolver that she could tuck into the belt on her cat suit.
Tellingly, Honey West’s creator, G.G. Fickling was a pseudonym for Mr. and Mrs. Fickling because they didn’t think the wife’s name should be on the work. Even though Mrs. Fickling’s job was to provide Honey’s ‘style sense’ – as well as everything that made her a dynamic, but believable female character. (Gloria Fickling, thank you … wherever you are.)
So here we are today, and I can safely say not one of us wears a girdle. We may have left our marriages; we may even live alone and love our lives just the way they are. Or perhaps we’ve staked out ‘our turf’ in our marriages more completely.
We get, on some level, that this is it. Our last hurrah has arrived so we’d better damn well make the best of it.
Recently I published a novel, Transformed; San Francisco, in which the female protagonist comes to terms with her long suppressed desire to be a professional dominatrix. She’s given up her position in New York society; her marriage was tattered to shreds after her husband found our she’d been domming around with six of his friends.
And why? Because poor Electra had to sneak around in order to be who she really was. Yet, when she changes her name from Pamela to Electra and moves to San Francisco to finally BE that dominatrix … she stumbles.
Can Electra really have what she wants? Like … really?
It’s almost hard to believe you can have what you want when you’ve been culturally programmed to defer to others again and again. Especially if what you want is way outside of the box.
So it becomes a question of giving up on ourselves. Will we? Or won’t we?
In 2010, I, too, came to San Francisco to seize the rest of my life. I left behind my 25-year marriage, came out as a lesbian and found my way to the real deal.
Sacrifices were made, but I am now happier in love and life than I’ve ever been. Mainly because I finally get to be me. 100%. Completely.
This is our opportunity as women at mid-life. And frankly, I couldn’t think of a better age to be, wrinkles and muffin tops notwithstanding. Unlike our younger counterparts, we have had more of an uphill climb, but look what we gained in the process.
Like Honey West, we are not afraid to kick butt when we have to. So we can finally, totally be ourselves.
Thank frigging God!
PS. Please feel free to add to the conversation. Have you had your own Honey West moment?