If you are of a certain age, you will remember the mega 70’s hit by the Australian songstress, Helen Reddy, “I Am Women Hear Me Roar”. It became the anthem of the women’s equal rights movement (1960-1980) better known as “women’s lib”. This was a time when women banded together and demanded to be recognized equally along side men, not only as citizens but as human beings.
I am women here me roar, in numbers too big to ignore and I know too much to go back and pretend.
The vast majority of participants in the feminist movement were baby boomers. Categorised as such because of the post world war 2 birth explosion, or boom, and became a group that would, and did, create huge cultural changes in modern society.
Think hippie movement, free love, the green movement, and for the late baby boomers, think yuppies, dot.com, and the me generation.
Baby boomers challenged the status quo, thought for themselves and stood up in mass for social change from the government and from cultural and religious constrictions of the time.
The women of the baby boomer era for the first time on mass stood up for themselves, demanding not only to have a voice in society, but to be valued equally as citizens of the world.
Fast forward to today, all of the baby boomers are now past the age of 50. In many cultures the age of 50 is considered the start of the third stage of life and we boomers have become elders.
While one might argue that with todays advances in health care and quality of life, 50 is hardly old age, and should, instead be considered mid-life at least. But with out a doubt it does mark the end of one’s youth.
Because I am a late boomer and have an interest in self empowerment, I have searched the internet and current women’s interest publications for inspiration to guide me in this next stage of my life. What I have seen so far disappoints me.
Under the subject of being an older woman, I can find: ways to look 10 years younger, how to be a cougar and date younger men and articles about older celebrities aging well. Even though what they are really doing is clinging to their youth through Botox and hair dye, desperately trying to continue to compete in an industry that is based on youth and beauty.
Yes sprinkled amongst these subjects are well written articles about nutrition, health and retirement planning but harder to find is any information on living fully into your elder years.
Of the articles that do offer commentary about aging well, I have seen more than a few women confess to feeling that they have become invisible in society as they age. What I really hear is not that older women are invisible, but rather older women are having a hard time competing in the same arena as the fresh faced younger set. Why would we even want too?
Is this the same generation of women that stood up for themselves, wrote their own life script and went on to effect real change in a society, that up until then saw them only as the weaker sex, good for making babies, homemaking, and standing behind her man?
I am strong, I am invincible, I am women.
I believe that each generation must define themselves. I also believe that it is our duty as a species to ensure that what ever progress our own generation creates acts as a strong foundation for the next generation to use as a step up.
While baby boomers didn’t create society’s fixation with youth, they sure as heck capitalized on it by developing technologies that preserve it for as long as possible. When that no longer works, we can just airbrush aging out of our digital images.
In order for the women of the baby boomer generation to cement our achievements and leave a complete legacy for the next generations, we need to embrace all stages of our lives and we need to do it with as much passion as we had in our youth.
Just think what kind of message we can roar out now. I am older women, I am still strong, I am still invincible. I am also wise, so listen and learn. I now know that real beauty comes from within. I have earned these wrinkles and sagging flesh.
I loved being young and pretty, I relished in the passion of my youth and I will fondly hold those memories close to my heart, but I am no longer her. I have become much more, and so, I will continue to clear the path for you, young one.
In Canada, 3 out of 10 (29%) of all Canadians are considered a baby boomer. That is still a large enough demographic to effect change. We do not need to fade away into our dotage. We can and must complete the life cycle that we started, by continuing to be independent self-thinkers who embrace life and seek ground breaking change meant to effect future generations.
Perhaps there is no need to roar loudly anymore. As long as we honour the achievements of the women’s equality movement and respect the amazing contributions women have made since, we should be fine.
In order to be seen and heard in today’s society, a well timed growl every now and then might be all that’s needed to get the attention and respect older women deserve.
So when it comes to understanding the power of today’s older women, never mistake a gentle roar as a sign of a weakness, or she might just bite you instead.