Usually this type of post is my soap box to rant against overused, unclear or awkward expressions. But today I want to coin a word to represent women past childbearing age—in a good way.
Even though I added the modifier “hot,” my use of the word “crone” in my last post sparked an outcry from friends. That’s because the term is associated with mean old hags.
The reason for the negative portrayal is the fear of death, which the crone’s age suggested. But today women are living long healthy lives. We live many decades after our Goddess fertility ceases.
So let’s come up with terms that honor the wise and powerful women no longer weighted down by the responsibilities of children, tampons and the pursuit of alpha mates.
Nobody sees women like Madonna, Meryl Streep or Hillary Clinton as mean old hags. But we don’t have a word to honor them and the billions of other wise, powerful-in-our-own way women. Yet. Please help.
Although our numbers may be increasing, wise, powerful women are not new. In well-loved stories, the nasty archtypes alternate with the nice ones. Consider the mean old woman in Hansel and Gretel and the beloved fairy godmother in Cinderella. Or the wicked witches of the east and west and Glinda the good witch in The Wizard of Oz.
In Outliers, Malcom Gladwell argued that 10,000 hours of practice are vital to creating a phenom or standout. That qualifies me, and billions of other experienced women, for phenom-hood at anything we’ve consistently done for four hours a week for 50 years. Reading, tidying up, laughing—the list is long.
Few consequential activities have slipped off my phenom list, although I can no longer do the splits or slip into my prom dress. I compensate for my declining ability to read fine print by wearing glasses and to multi-task by focusing on one thing one at a time. I handle temporary noun loss by substituting and laughing. As comedienne Sandra Shamas joked: “Please pass the container of tiny white rocks.”
Cinderella’s fairy godmother sometimes forgot her magic words, but never lost what counts: her kindness, wisdom or magic. I can’t wait to see how Helena Bonham Carter portrays her in the upcoming film.
Although I’ll never be a tennis or chess phenom, I confidently take on the young hot shots in areas, from air fresheners to zenophobes, where I’ve accumulated knowledge. I can sweep the floor with break-taking efficiency. I can listen patiently, or at least give a fine impression, to a distressed toddler, friend or aging relative.
I know how to connect the dots and predict the future. Whether it’s Syria or my offspring’s latest infatuation, I know when things will end in tears.
Food for thought
We could call ourselves wise, powerful women good witches, but then we’d lose many religious women.
We could try fairy godmothers, though the gays and child-free women might not like that.
We could try cron-a-licious.
We could translate fairy godmothers into romantic Spanish or Italian and call them fata madrinas. Then again, we don’t want to offend anyone who’s put on a few pounds.
The fairy godmother in Cinderella is simply called Fairy Godmother, even though the mice had names. But in the Italian version, she’s called Smemorina. How about that?
Alternatively, we could dig deep into Greek mythology for Gaia (prounounced Geea), the mother of everyone and everything, who continued to influence post-fecundity.
Or we could twist and combine them.
What do you think about these suggestions? Here’s the list, which I’ll expand as worthy suggestions appear.
- Fairy godmothers
- Fata madrinas
- Good witches
- Slimma madrinas
Please add yours in the comments below and pass this link to wise, powerful women. This is our mission.