Just Once Before She Dies
Can We Talk about Sex? Eldersex?

The Same Old Story

In a recent issue of Time magazine, model and actress Isabella Rossellini caught my attention [subscription required] with this statement:

“Yes, there’s ageism in modeling and acting…The story you hear over and over is about seducing a man and getting married, but women do much more than that.”

Without having time for extended contemplation or research, that strikes me as painfully true. It doesn’t matter if she’s a doctor, a lawyer or hooker, or if it’s set in modern day New York, ancient Rome or on a space ship - in the movies, the woman’s story is always about finding a man. Unless she is old and then it’s about mourning a man.

This may be radical notion, but after the kids are raised, who cares? And that’s Ms. Rossellini’s point, isn’t it: there are no movies about women older than 40.

On the other hand, the story we hear again and again about men is the hero who saves the world – whether on the home front or the entire planet. I wonder if men are as weary of their only story as I am of women’s?

We are all – men and women - so much more than that.


Have you seen Charlotte Rampling's "Swimming Pool"? Just one movie--a drop in the tide. If we don't support the alternatives they won't continue making them.

Those were excellent thoughts and so true. I hear it from my single friends-- have to find a man even when getting old. It ruins often what we could have as we age by this pursuit which leads to other things like overly concerned with attractive weight, face work etc etc. A lot stay in bad marriages because the fear of being alone is worse.

In the media, it has been an emphasis on men for the action figures. When I wrote a lot of fiction, it was always the male protagonist that I most enjoyed writing for and discussed that problem with a consulting writer who said it's our society and we see it that men get to do the more interesting things.

In the movies, we might be seeing some of this emphasis on finding a soul mate of the opposite sex changing at least a little. 'Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood' was one example of women there for women. 'Ladies in Lavender' explores the problem of wanting a romantic connection that can even be damaging. 'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants' is basically about the relationships between 4 young women and men were only incidental to the story. We need to support these kinds of movies by going to them.

And none of that is to put down men because it's the obsessive search for mates that can be so damaging to quality living at any age and in either sex. And adding to it the attitude that if you don't find it and keep it, something was wrong. In my experience, men as friends have been very important. I like to hear their take on things; and when there is no question of whether it is going to be more, it's very relaxed.

Last night I watched The Devil Wears Prada. Most of the time Meryl Streep is all glammed up, but there is one scene where she wears no makeup and looks like the older woman that she is. I don't know if she qualifies as an elder, but it is refreshing to see something like that in a film.

I also appreciated the elder sex in The World's Fastest Indian, where Anthony Hopkins finally became a romantic leading man and Diane Lane was stunning without hiding the truth about her age.

Yes, Virgina, Meryl Streep was sans makeup and fashion in that one scene..but did you notice that this scene (where she looked her years, tired and old) was centered around the character's angst over her upcoming divorce...? In other words, losing her MAN? And...although I enjoyed the film and Streep's performance, it again shows that a highly successful woman in business has to be a complete B * * C H to get there. Suttle message for the masses, or maybe not so suttle.

I am an 81 year old woman who has lived alone for 22 years and the only thing I found that I needed a man for was repair work (I did discover that I could do a lot of it myself). I have women friends and one male friend. The latter is strictly platonic. After my husband died I thought I wanted a male companion, but having dated for awhile I found that I was happier being single and in charge of my life. Women are stronger than they think they are. Now we need to let all women know that.

Thanks for that, Darlene. I really look up to those like you and Ronni who are doing it on your own and let us all know that it's just as easy to be happy wothout a man as with one (maybe more so?)

When I read your post, I too thought of "Swimming Pool" and clicked on Comments to post about that. Kudos to M Sinclair Stevens.

Another movie of that type is "8 Femmes" with Catherine Deneuve (59 at the time) and Isabelle Huppert (49 at the time) playing major roles.

But both are foreign films. Hollywood won't make films like this, preferring to pander to our youth-obsessed American culture. Even when choosing to profile an intelligent, independent woman such as Dian Fossey in “Gorillas in the Mist”, they chose – surprise - Sigourney Weaver, who looks nothing like Ms. Fossey.

Thanks, Bill. I'd also recommend "Jackie Brown" In which Pam Grier shows what a woman with brains can do.

Honorable mention to "Vera Drake", "Iris", "Mrs. Henderson Presents", "The Terrorist" (which is about a young woman, so I don't know if it counts), "Baran" (also about a young woman who must dress as a boy to survive), "The Ballad of Little Jo" (same story, but in the early American west), "After Life" (an ensemble cast but with some great life stories of women of various age), "The Others", "Panic Room", "Monster", "North Country", "Million Dollar Baby", "Bread and Roses", "The Gleaners and I", "Being Julia" (too much romance?)...

What is the criteria again? Stories about older women or stories about women of any age without a man? What is the age cut-off? If a man is in the picture but not the main focus of the woman's story, is that acceptable? If a woman is freeing herself from unbearable relationships ("Bread and Tulips") does that count? or is it still too focused on men?

What stories do you want to see?

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