A few weeks ago I read an article that referenced Germaine Greer and crone culture. If you’re unfamiliar with her, Germaine Greer is an academic, a journalist; a feminist and a powerhouse in the women’s movement. I didn’t remember hearing that term before (though I’m sure I must have, perhaps I was busy weaving flowers in my hair while I read The Female Eunich), but I fell in love with it, fascinated, and because I’m
certifiable a curious gal, I’ve been doing some research in my free moments. Crone culture. Imagine, an enlightened world that might choose to see older women, post menopausal (gasp) women, not as impotent and invisible beings, but as valued and valuable members of society. Possible? Is it even possible for us to see ourselves in that light?
And what does it mean to be a crone? Is it pure biology? Age? Children’s age? Fatigue? Wear and tear? Cause let me jussay, this vehicle is only middle aged, but its got a lot of mileage. Is 40 really the new 30, and 50 the new 40? Why does it have to be, why can’t it just be fine to be 40 and 50?
For the average first world woman, there’s quite a bit of time, 20-40 years, in between our roles as Mother (Lachesis, if you’re into Greek mythology) and death: the Crone (Atropos) role. Is it possible to embrace that phase and use it as the period of fertility for the mind and soul, instead of spending the first half pining for our prior roles and the second half waiting to die? Is it realistic to think about using this time to deepen connections and understanding, broaden our world when we’re still fully occupied with getting by?
As I think, I’m thinking of women like myself, on the fringe. Women whose adult worth has been not just tied but knotted with wife-ing (whether you stayed a wife or not) and mothering. Women who have jobs–paid or unpaid–but not careers, who don’t have initials after their name to proclaim their continued relevance. I don’t pretend women of privilege don’t face some of the same issues, after all, they’re still women, but I think it’s different; easier to remain relevant for a longer period of time when you’re respected in a field of study, know you still have quite a bit to say that’s worth being heard, can purchase the right clothes, cosmetics, surgeries to present yourself the way you wish to be seen.
I make no judgement about that last bit, by the way. If I had the money and freedom, I think I’d have a little tweaking done at this point in my life. Not to attract or please anyone but myself. For me. Can that be distilled, separated from the society I live in which dictates what is or is not attractive? Probably not.
There is a difference in how women of different socioeconomic brackets see themselves and present themselves. When I was at that lit bar the other night, I was chatting with a woman, another friend of the friend I was there to hear. She asked if I was a writer and I said, “Well, I’m a wannabe.” With great confidence, she told me not to say that; if I write, I’m a writer. I’m not so sure. Do I write? Yes. Do I have skill and talent? Maybe, I think so. But I’m a pretty good cook, too. I’ve left restaurants wishing I had stayed home and eaten my own sauce. But I certainly wouldn’t identify myself as a chef. Even as I argue for recognition, I question my validity.
Imagine a crone culture. A culture that valued women as they age; saw experience, caregiving, and connectedness as valid alternatives to degrees earned for 30 year old, forgotten lessons. What if those experiences could be used for opportunities?
Maybe, though. Maybe. Maybe in my imaginary world where crones are empowered. Instead of being reduced we are a reduction–as in cooking. Thickened and intensified, adding richness and bringing the individual components of the dish together.