I've got a new essay up at BNR on why many older women are enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton:
Older women occupy a very particular space in our culture—a space frequently defined by an abandonment of listening. Rather than valuing the lived experiences of older women, and the wisdom those lives have imparted, we turn away from them, dismissing them as irrelevant; we neglect to listen, just at the moment where they may offer insights most profoundly worth listening to.This is a really long one, and I'm super proud of it, so I hope you will head over to read the whole thing, and I hope you like it!
In her beautiful essay, "Listening to Old Women," Soraya Chemaly observes: "One day last year, I was thinking about the erasure of aging women in our culture and searched for the term 'venerable women.' I was curious about what images of wise and respected women the world produces. Google's seemingly baffled autocorrect responded, tellingly: 'Do you mean venerable men or vulnerable women?'"
We cast older women aside—and with them, their voices.
So it doesn't surprise me that there hasn't been much interest in exploring older women's support for Hillary, or what it might signify to them.
Women, of course, are not a monolith. Not all women support Hillary, and not all women who do support her do so for the same reasons.
But among the older women who support Hillary—and, depending on your own age, you may count my nearly 41-year-old self among them—are lots and lots of women who see in Hillary Clinton a direct challenge to the habit of tossing away older women, like so much useless rubbish.
Hillary has a voice. And people listen to it. She has experience, which people respect. She has knowledge, and it is widely valued.
This is not the typical experience of older women, who are devalued at the intersection of misogyny and ageism—and whatever other parts of their identity (race, disability, body size, sexuality, gender) are used to devalue us, too.
Witnessing Hillary, an older woman, fight her way to get into the most exclusive boys' club on the planet, and seeing her succeed, inching ever closer, is exciting. And more than that: It's validating.
Because older women know they have value. It's everyone else who seems to disagree.