What We Gain as We Grow Older - Book and Contest
INTERESTING STUFF – 13 February 2016

Contest Winners and Crabby Old Lady

What an amazing response to the Wednesday drawing for a copy of What We Gain as We Grow Older: On Gelassenheit by the well-known German philosopher, Wilhelm Schmid.

We heard from a lot of people who have never commented before and one woman asked if she, living in Scotland, is eligible. Yes. About 20 percent of TimeGoesBy readers reside in countries other than the United States and everyone has an equal shot at winning.

There are five books available and therefore five winners. I'm listing the names you used to sign your comments, not email names. Here goes:

Nana Royer
Wendl Kornfeld
Carol Killian

Each of you should use the “Contact” link at the top of this page to send me your name for snailmailing and your postal address. I will then get the books out to you forthwith. If, perchance, I do not hear from a winner by noon Pacific standard time on Monday 15 February, another winner will be chosen.

Congratulations all. I know you will enjoy the book.

This was fun. I wish we could do it more often but that's up to publishers and to my willingness to read a bunch of books to find ones I believe are worth recommending. Also, thanks to so many of you for your kind words about this blog. I feel abashed when I read them. Now to today's post...

* * *

There's a rumor going 'round – well, it's been around for as long as Crabby Old Lady can remember – that with old age, men get grumpy. You know, the “get off my lawn” stereotype.

Some people blame this phenomenon on lower testosterone that comes with age. Crabby questions that theory since in other circles, testosterone is said to be the cause of much male belligerance. But for the purpose of Crabby's next sentence, let's just go with it. Two recent events lead Crabby to wonder if women suffer a similar affliction for the same reason – low estrogen in their case.

Two venerable old women - both worthy of our respect and admiration for groundbreaking accomplishments that have paved the way for all women - strayed into grumpy old man territory last week.

First, Madeleine Albright, the 78-year-old who served as the first female U.S. Secretary of State, tried to shame young women into voting for the second female former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton:

“Special place in hell for women who don't help each other?” Hunh? She has angered this Crabby Old Lady and embarrassed herself.

The clamor over that had not settled when, according to Katie Dreyer at Huffington Post, 81-year-old, feminist icon, Gloria Steinem, told HBO talk show host, Bill Maher,

”...that younger women were selling out by supporting [presidential candidate] Bernie Sanders, a sad phenomenon that can apparently be explained by young people's desire to impress the opposite sex: 'When you're young, you're thinking: “Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,"' [said Steinem].

In Crabby Old Lady's view, that contradicts everything Gloria Steinem has stood for over the past half century and is nowhere near, to Crabby's knowledge, how young women today behave on issues as important as who the next president will be.

Crabby understands that these two strong, committed, hardworking women who have done more than most to improve women's rights would like to see a woman president in their lifetime. So would Crabby. But not by belittling young women.

Following near universal condemnation for her outburst, last Sunday Ms. Steinem took to Facebook to publish what has become the standard-issue political apology - “misspoke” - of anyone who lets slip what he or she really thinks. She wrote, in part,

”In a case of talk-show Interruptus, I misspoke on the Bill Maher show recently, and apologize for what's been misinterpreted as implying young women aren't serious in their politics.”

Misspoke? Misinterpreted? How? It was hardly a nuanced argument that might be difficult to make clear, and Crabby doesn't believe it for a moment. Here is Steinem's full Facebook statement:


Crabby Old Lady feels betrayed by these towering feminist pioneers. Ms. Albright and Ms. Steinem have diminished themselves which may diminish their legitimate and important accomplishments for those young women they have maligned who were not, like you and me, there when the earliest hard work for women's rights was being done.

Worse, this is not only a setback for women but for old people, adding crabby old woman to the long-time grumpy old man stereotype. Elders don't need this.

Crabby is giving Katie Dreyer, the young woman from Huffpost quoted above, the last word today. She says it well:

”If I ran for President of the United States, I would want people to vote for me based on my views, my experience, my approach to debates and negotiation, and not because I happen to have been born a certain sex.

“I am a woman, but I am also a human being. This is what Steinem and Albright have taught me in their admirable fight for gender-equality.

“Whether I support Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton is ultimately unimportant; what is important is my right and ability to choose in the first place. Of all people, Steinem and Albright should have understood this.”

[EDITORIAL NOTE: It has been a long time since Crabby Old Lady has made an appearance in these pages. For those who are unfamiliar with her, she is the third-party alter ego I use to give me some distance when I'm really angry and sometimes (not this one) when I'm trying to be funny about something irritating but not necessarily significant.]


Oh dear. And I thought (wrongly, it appears) that the battle against sexism was mostly won! Glad Gloria stepped up and tried to fix the damage. But, as they say, you can't put the toothpaste back into the tube! As for Madelaine, well, she is just plain grumpy and crabby!

Amen, Ronni. It gave me a tired feeling too, that they're all in a class of celebrities who have long since been out of touch with ordinary people. With friends like these...

Yes, the two women did cause my jaw to drop at their poorly-phrased remarks. They're much more than that and young women are more savvy, too.

It did make me think of how few older women are easily-recognized "icons," with so many deserving, but unrecognized. Back to RBG.

Like you, Ronni, I was very disappointed in both these women's comments. When, even all these years later, statements like this are made by someone like Gloria Steinem, it's not hard to understand how easily people can be convinced of, buy in to, and perpetuate biased myopic attitudes. You can see how this makes me crabby too. May we all have a good weekend, and enjoy something other than all the political hype.

The two of them certainly offended me. I may be one of their contemporaries but I still have brains enough to base my support on something beyond M/F. Makes me wonder if they're getting senile in addition to being old and crabby.

Good for you, Crabby, for elaborating on these incidents, and welcome back! You're just the one to vent your outrage here. It seems to me that Madeleine Albright's remark was really out of line, with Gloria Steinem not far behind. Not much good for her effort to try and repair it either--too late.

I agree Ronni, I expect better from our feminist icons and a presidential candidate. Ms. Steinem’s remark was misogynistic, emblematic of the very attitude she has worked all her life to dispel. Using ‘misspoke’ was a copout, a more convincing apology was indicated. As for Ms. Albright’s remark, she has been around long enough to know women of all persuasions. She may have meant her remark as a joke but it was an opportunity for Hilary to appeal to all voters based on her policies, instead she just laughed.

I'm giving them some slack on this. Why? Maybe it's because I think young people see both women as "old & cranky." While Bernie most likely comes across as "cute ole' grandpa." Ya think ? I do, after speaking to several young folks who know less about politics & the women's movement than I could have imagined. We live in a mad world. :( Dee

I saw both of these and was more than disappointed. Grumpy they may be, but I see a lack of relevance their comments have for women today...young and older. I've been too independent to have either affect my vote.

I think when you have a qualified woman vs a qualified man, I think an affirmative action like response is not a bad thing for women to consider.

We are not talking Sarah Palin here.

I think those two women are tired of seeing women not helping good women and are just concerned and wanting women to understand the fight.

Their intent was in line with the sentiment they were trying to say, but it came out not quite right.

I do think all women jumping on the band wagon to condemn them out right without considering the total picture might be a bit harsh maybe?

They are pro-women causes and want women to succeed. Maybe we should be too when a qualified women seeks advancement.

well, I have a somewhat of a different take. Maybe it's just my many years of fighting anti-feminism, or all the years I edited Signs. My take has been influenced by a recent column by Katha Pollitt in The Nation [at least in the online daily Nation] called "What Gloria Steinem Got - Almost - Right." Since I subscribe, I could see it online -- so rather than replace Pollitt's wonderful words with my lesser ones, I tried to highlight just the text. It is pretty brief, let me see if I can paste it in:

"At last young feminists and those imaginary Bernie Bros have something in common: being mad at Gloria Steinem. Free-associating a bit on the Bill Maher show, where she was promoting her new book, Steinem suggested that young women were supporting Bernie because “when you’re young you’re thinking, Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie.” It was a silly, not to mention impolitic, thing to say. When I e-mailed her about it Saturday night she said she had tried to clarify: “What I was thinking sitting there was that both young women and young men gravitate toward each other, and here, for a shared reason—Bernie makes an economic message like that of Occupy—but Bill cut me off to make a joke, with a line from the song, ‘Where the boys are’—I said no twice, that wasn’t what I meant, I even said, ‘How well do you know me?’”
Never mind that the dreaded pullquote came after astute and generous remarks about young women: “I find the young women very activist and they’re way more feminist. We were, like, 12 crazy ladies in the beginning, and now it’s the majority. I do think that gratitude never radicalized anybody. I did not say thank you for the vote. I got mad on the basis of what was happening to me, and I think that that’s true of young women too. So they’re mad as hell because they’re graduating in debt, and they’re gonna earn a million dollars less over their lifetime to pay it back, they’re mad about what’s happening to them.”
Needless to say, The New York Times did not run with the headline “Second-Wave Icon Praises Young Women: More Feminist Than Ever, Face New Challenges.” Actual headline: “Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright Scold Young Women Backing Bernie Sanders.” (When I checked it online this morning, “scold” had been changed to “rebuke.” Progress! As Steinem told me, “When two men disagree, it’s about an issue, but when two women disagree, it’s because they can’t get along.”)

Albright’s offense was to introduce Hillary at a rally with her famous aphorism: There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women. This saying, previously thought bland enough to adorn a Starbucks cup, is now the cackle of an old crone stirring her cauldron: Support Hillary, my pretties, or burn in the lake of fire! (The incident also retroactively upgraded Albright to feminist-icon status in the media, although I doubt many feminists thought of her that way before.)

“I do think that gratitude never radicalized anybody. I did not say thank you for the vote. I got mad.” —Gloria Steinem

Steinem quickly apologized for her remark on her Facebook page: “In a case of talk-show Interruptus, I misspoke on the Bill Maher show recently, and apologize for what’s been misinterpreted as implying young women aren’t serious in their politics. What I had just said on the same show was the opposite: young women are active, mad as hell about what’s happening to them, graduating in debt, but averaging a million dollars less over their lifetimes to pay it back. Whether they gravitate to Bernie or Hillary, young women are activist and feminist in greater numbers than ever before.” But as she has learned the hard way, you’re only as good as your last soundbite. Hers has spurred furious letters, tweets, Facebook posts, an online petition from People for Bernie, articles from younger feminists attacking her for not understanding intersectionality, and even a clever Feminists for Bernie cover song.

But was Steinem entirely wrong? We’re not living in Plato’s Republic, after all. In real life, one’s preferences are shaped by all sorts of social and psychological factors, including one’s friends, one’s networks, one’s sense of what others think. This is true for everyone, Republicans and Democrats, white and of color. Hillary’s older female supporters surely strengthen one another’s sense of solidarity and excitement at the prospect of making history. White men reinforce their own particular brands of identity politics—since they are the dominant group, they don’t even have to try very hard. Why would young women be immune to real-life influences that everyone else is subject to in one way or another? As Jill Filipovic argues, young people want to be cool, boys determine what coolness is, and boys like Bernie. My 28-year-old daughter, Sophie (a Hillary supporter), put it this way: “Even those stupid fake ads comparing what Bernie and Hillary would say about stuff like Harry Potter seem vaguely sexist to me—another argument that men ‘get it’ and women are boring/basic/out of it.”

In his New York Times column, Charles M. Blow said much the same thing, in a degendered way: Sanders’s support “is hardening into hipness. Supporting Sanders is quickly becoming the thing to do if you are young and want to appeal to those who are.” So far as I know, no one has suggested that Blow is old and out of touch, much less lectured him on intersectionality.

A bit lost in all this is the candidate herself. Here’s what Hillary says about young women: “I think it’s wonderful that they’re so enthusiastic about Bernie, I love to see their political passion, and I hope to earn their vote.”

Perfect. Why can’t we leave it at that?

a ps. The last paragraph is Pollitt's, not mine. Although I agree.

The end-quote should have been after that?"


Ruth-Ellen's comment makes sense to me. Although public figures "should" think before they speak, especially where they might be quoted (or misquoted), life doesn't always happen that way. The intent behind what was said may not be clear, but I would tend to think neither Ms. Albright nor Ms. Steinem intended to denigrate or devalue women of any generation.

At 79, I'm not sure at this point whether I'll vote for Hillary or Bernie. I do think that the way our country goes about nominating and electing candidates for the highest office in the land is totally nuts! At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old woman, constant repetitive media exposure (including in social media) is NOT helpful. Candidates, their supporters and their opponents are reduced to sound bites and photo ops, and woe betide any who slip up for an instant.

For the better part of a year Presidential candidates crisscross the country on almost no sleep and bad food, burning a gazillion gallons of jet fuel and spending (mostly) money donated by multi-millionaires. I'm not sure this results in a better-informed, more "enlightened" electorate as a whole. Low-information voters will continue to reject anything that doesn't agree with their worldview. Perhaps this explains the appeal of the top two Repub contenders.

How about 100% publicly-funded time-limited campaigns, with major restrictions on advertising, that last for a maximum of 6 months? That I could vote for!!

Nodding along with all the comments above agreeing with your anger and surprise at Albright and Steinem. The LAST thing we need here is campaign-by-shame, and, of course, reverse sexism. Blech. Blech.

I also want to say I don't see *anything* grandfatherly about Sanders. In fact, he sounds extremely strong, clear, and vital. Really--this is all more intellectually lazy stereotyping. It's SO easy to take a glance at someone and decide you know what they're all about, based on that quick look at--what? AT THEIR PHYSICAL EQUIPMENT! Give me a break.

I thought Sanders and Clinton both did very well in the debate last night. I am supporting Sanders because I think he's so very clearly the real deal, and brings to his fight a tough intellect, decades of experience, and everything else needed to do all that a single person in the White House can do to improve our society. (Of course, the power of the executive branch is limited--all those things candidates say they'll do--or at least many of them--are things that cannot be done by the individual in the office, but require cooperation from Congress, etc.,etc.) I would love, love, love to see someone with a socialist ethos in that job.

And, if Clinton is the candidate, I will vote for her without any wish to hold my nose. It would, as an aside, be great to have a woman as president. But it is far, far from the central issues for me.

I always enjoy "Crabby" when she comes out to play Ronni...she has insightful things to say and it's more than ok to be crabby. Whenever we feel like it.

I wish I could have heard, in context, Steinem's full statement, even went thru YouTube videos to see if I could find the ending Ms Steinem says she was trying to insert, as soon as she got her foot out of her mouth, however I couldn't locate it..if anyone else finds the full clip I'd appreciate a heads up.

Ms Albright has been, herself, a crabby old lady for decades and more power to her. Her statement was not well considered but she's entitled to her own opinion. As is, of course, Ms Steinem.

My local Bernie Phone Bank, BTW, has many more women than men involved - at least it seems that way when I go to do my volunteering. Of course it's telephoning so maybe thats something women show up for more than men..I dunno...I enjoy doing the poling and talking. I'm a retired CWA union member and I call other union households and even other CWA households. All are registered democrat or independent. I'm usually pleased at the reception.

Keep letting Crabby out of her cage-she needs to be heard!

hugs from neighbor Elle

Sorry to be a picker of nits, but Hillary was the third female ex-Secretary of State. Condoleezza Rice came in between.

I am a huge supporter of the younger women of today. I am a huge supporter of Ms Albright and Ms Steinem. Just because she puts her foot in her mouth, I do not abandon a woman. Just as I've understood over my 78 years that men are human and err, I understand that women are human and err. Yes, I cringe at some statements by some people; but, if I can forgive a man for making a mistake, why can't I forgive a woman.

I don't care for the song, myself, but Dolly Parton put out a recording of "Just Because I'm a Woman". Part of the lyrics, follow:

"My mistakes are no worse than yours
Just because I'm a woman"

Congratulations to the winners (and I am sure many of the non-winners will find a way to get that book anyway, so thank you, Ronni, for the umpteenth great tip).
And thank you, Crabby, for your cathartic - for you and for me - vents!

Of course, you are correct, Peter, about Ms. Rice. How could I have forgotten...

What a good article and great comments. I particularly enjoyed RuthEllen's comments and the long quotation about what Gloria Steinem said, in context.

I usually think of crabbiness in old age as a result of aches and pains, and impatience with change. I don't know if Steinem was being crabby but Albright sounds so. I wish she had not said what she said in that context. It wasn't politic. It made some people mad, and diverts attention to the widespread fascination of seeing women fight with each other. Because that's what this hoohah is supposed to be--a cat fight.

While I, as a female citizen, choose my candidates based on how I view their merits, I do know that many male citizens would prefer make candidates. So, contests between males and females will often be weighted toward the males. It is always a triumph when a female wins office!

I honestly think what is handicapping Hillary now is that we know her too, too well. It is eager to be sort of in love with Bernie, because he seems so authentically himself, and because he is for most of us, a new face.

Albright has been saying that line for years in a lot of places. It's her tag line to end speeches so it didn't bother me at all. Saying it at a political rally, of course, turned out not to be a good idea but I'll cut her and Steinem a lot slack because they walk the talk of helping women and truly meant no harm.

The media, of course, pick up comments like this and amplify them. I don't think they are important in themselves.

When time allows on a weekend morning, I like to go back and read all the comments that I might have missed on posts from earlier in the week. I'm particularly glad to have done this today, as there are so many thoughtful comments on this thread. Several have helped remind me of the need to be more mindful and think and investigate more deeply into these media storms, especially when these storms may have been created to exploit an opportunity to try to return to, or reinforce, archaic thinking. The material from the Nation, shared by Ruth-Ellen, was especially helpful. I very much appreciate the exposure to intelligent, well-considered writing that I may have missed otherwise. This was an excellent example of that. Thank you.

I'm forgiving of Steinem. She's been recently concretely working with and supporting younger Korean friends who are trying, probably vainly, to encourage peace between the two halves of the country.

But Albright: come on! As Secretary of State, when asked about sanctions on Saddam Hussein's Iraq that killed 500,000 children, she replied "we think the price is worth it." That kind of brutality is not something I want from man or woman ... Not surprised she'd turn up sticking her foot in mouth. She has an explanatory oped in the NYT today; her kind always has unlimited access to such platforms.

As a man, I can only comment on "Female Grumpiness" from a distance. But, from what I have observed, as women get older, they appear to go into a more defensive mode, which may appear to some as being grumpy.
As for grumpy old men, a topic with which I have a closer relationship with, I know friends of mine who have been grumpy old men since high school when their testosterone levels where as high as the Mississippi at flood stage.

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