Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why I Love Helen Mirren

When I look at actress Helen Mirren at 63, everything about her resonates with why I love older women. There is an air of “self possession” or confidence about her; of owning all that she is. There is also a gracefulness and a strength of character that you don’t see in her photographs of almost 40 years ago. And it makes me think about why aging can be so liberating if you go with it. You hit your 40s and you begin to realize that what makes you desirable has very little to do with the size of your nose, the color of your labia or how much cellulite you have. If you hit your stride, you feel yourself coming alive for what feels like the first time, and wondering if the men in your life can handle it.

You see that’s the thing. The Inquisition was born of men who couldn’t handle it. Branding a woman “in her stride” a witch – however you define the term these days – hundreds of thousands were burned alive or drowned. Today, thanks to the courage and smarts of many of our ancestors, we don’t have to worry about that. But we do have to work on not apologizing for ourselves: for our strengths as older women; for our deep knowing of all things sexual. And we can do that without emasculating men in the process.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Men Who Get Older Women

I was talking to a friend the other day about men who “get” older women and how they stand apart from men who don’t. She knew exactly what I was talking about. In my experience, older women often have a certain aura to them, much the same way a pregnant woman does, but different. There is a strength and an energy to them that is almost impossible to describe, but it is real, and tangible. When I look into the face of an older woman, I sometimes sense an unconscious effort to minimize or suppress this power and yet, it remains: an unstoppable force that is determined to survive, to persevere, to keep getting back up, again and again.

But the aura I feel goes beyond that, and it has a sexual undertone to it. As a heterosexual woman, I like to imagine myself as a man, and ask myself what I would find attractive. The truth is, I cannot imagine that, as a man, I could find sex with a young woman to be even remotely satisfying. The actor Alec Baldwin recently went on record saying that he could not imagine going to bed with someone he couldn’t talk to in the morning, and that some men get stuck in chasing some romantic ideal of their youth. Or something like that. It seems to me that men who find older women attractive – and there are many, many more out there than the media would have us believe – have a lot more depth to them.