Social media in combination with the #MeToo movement has given younger women a voice and sense of unity their mothers and grandmothers did not share at the same age, but after years of suppressing anger and resentment, older women are speaking up, and they’re roaring mad.
Why have so many women waited until their 60s or 70s to share their stories of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, salary inequality and a host of other injustices? Older women were raised as part of a silent generation and were expected to carry on with their roles as wives and mothers and not focus on grievances; many also feared they would not be believed or stepping forward would hurt their careers. But all that repressed anger is bubbling up, and quickly. As a recent New York Times article states; “With careers, social constraints and family obligations mostly behind them, some have seen fit to go rogue”.
Older women, no longer toeing the line raising children, caring for aging parents or playing a supporting role in the career of a spouse, they are letting rip years of resentment, hurt and fury. And with the mortality clock ticking more loudly, elder women are unleashing their rage, thinking, “If not now, when?” This simmering anger held by so many older women explains the success of the recent film, The Wife, in which Glenn Close plays the role of a wife who for 40 years allowed her husband to take all the credit and accolades for her writing. When he wins the Nobel Prize for literature, the suppressed rage is palpable. Close won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her performance, which clearly resonated with many.
This outrage being vented can be liberating for women, but it’s a far cry from the image we have of an older woman baking, knitting and helping to care for her grandchildren. More retirement-aged educated women are participating in politics and activism. Issues like gun control, education and health care have women organizing and showing up in large numbers to help effect change that would benefit not only themselves but the next generations.
We are told from a very young age that anger is a negative emotion but it’s not always the case. Anger, if it fuels action to achieve goals, rally support or instigates meaningful change can be a useful tool. It may make people uncomfortable, especially when it’s being voiced by older women, but that’s probably a good thing too. More women in their older age are retiring from their position as a peacemaker and they’re not taking any crap from their employers, their government, their husbands or their children.
“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”
― Malcolm X