What is it about calling someone an old lady that is so insulting? I found myself pondering that question after a man, in one of those monster trucks, attempted to pull into my parking space. The red-faced, bearded gentlemen then yelled out, “Fuck you old lady.” Now I didn’t mind the cursing, lord knows I use the “F” word on occasion. It was the “old lady” part that hit hard. Keep in mind this man was probably a Donald Trump supporter and had a small wee wee, but nonetheless, I couldn’t shake that remark.
Those two words are designed to be offensive and derogatory. It brought back the memories of when I was on a date with a guy who told me, at the age of 42, “Women in their 20’s hold the most power.” He went on to say, “The older a woman gets, the more power she loses.” I also thought of all the other remarks about older ladies in books (she was on the downhill side of 40), advertisements (you’re only as young as your neck), and the comments actresses get as they age. Even sweet Star Wars princess Leia had to defend herself against the barrage of hateful tweets from critics who felt the need to tell her she’s aged badly. The 59-year-old actor replied, “Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well. Unfortunately it hurts my feelings.” Some comments might be intended as a compliment, such as “you look good for your age,” yet it still sends a message that growing older is an undesirable and frowned upon part of life.
What if we took this “old lady” thing and turned it around? Yes, I’m old, so what? I like who I’ve become and what I’ve accomplished, and I will not be cut down because of our culture’s obsession with youth. It’s a paradigm shift, that will require women and men, young and old, to pay attention to the words they use. Also for women not to take offense when a burly man blurts out, “Old Lady,” kindly say, “Thank you.”