ellen datlow (ellen_datlow) wrote,
ellen datlow
ellen_datlow

A complaint about sex and ageism in fiction (& tangentially Hollywood)

Look, I'm not particularly articulate about cultural criticism so I rarely indulge in it. But once in a while I'll come across something I read that bugs me as a reader (not an editor) and so I feel compelled to rant.

I'm over 60 years old and I realize that I'm lucky as I've got very few wrinkles and my hair is still mostly dark brown and I don't color it. I have nothing to thank but genetics. However, I know I am not alone, so I get really tired of reading/seeing women over a certain age (generally over 50) described as wrinkled feeble unattractive hags wearing heavy make up to "cover furrows."

Most of the 60 year old women I know are in pretty good shape, are active, and look good. No, they're no longer the 20 or 30 year old knockouts they used to be but so fucking what? I'm not talking about those who feel the need to use botox and plastic surgery to keep themselves in the game (whatever the hell that is).

I do understand why women in Hollywood feel obliged to use artificial means to maintain a false youthful look despite the fact that it actually destroys their ability to be great actresses because it constricts the movement of their faces, something crucial to their craft (I'm talking to you Joan Allen--I didn't recognize her in one of the Bourne movies until I saw her name in the credits).

Culture both reflects reality but it also helps create it. I have no control over what Hollywood does but I do have some say in the literary world.

So I'll start right here right now. Male writers are not the only offenders. Female writers are too. Think before you produce your stereotypical "elderly woman" stereotype. Older women come in all shapes and sizes. They are sometimes feeble and others are active and good-looking at 100 years old (yes). The older woman stereotype is as offensive as the blonde bimbo, the gorgeous male stud (with no brains), add your own.

Go out and create real characters please. Help change the world. You as a writer can actually help.

And I will shut up now.
Tags: ageism, rant, sexism
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