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Granny Power

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The proliferation of support groups suggests
that too many Americans are growing up
in homes that do not contain a grandmother.

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Among a historical sea of voices pissing and moaning that older women lose their energy, good looks, and lustiness with the onset of menopause, anthropologist Margaret Mead identified a phenomenon she called postmenopausal zest. This phase of life, said Mead, free of tyrannical hormonal cycles, monthly bleeding and, yes, sexual craving, follows the dreaded menopause, and frequently turns out to be a woman’s most satisfying and productive stage of life.

To be completely honest, you couldn’t prove this by me; but it’s becoming more and more obvious that many, if not all, of the problems—financial, emotional, and social—faced by older women in our culture are political in nature, that is, they could be resolved by an attitudinal shift and a revamping of economic priorities.

We’re beginning to see glimmers of such a shift; our notions about aging in general are changing, as the bulging Baby Boomer generation demands services tailored to a new kind of senior demographic. This (r)evolution won’t hit its stride in time to save me, of course: born on the cusp of the Boom, I’ve seen every social change, such as parental equality and the Disability Rights Movement, come into its own a smidgeon too late to improve my situation. For instance, I’m now in the midst of an uphill battle to find an affordable living situation that isn’t depressing and lonely; even as I write this, young people in green, red, and blue think tanks are brainstorming new ideas for senior housing that won’t reach fruition until after I’m gone (what a phrase to write! to think!).

(Sigh)

This post was supposed to be about the ways that grandmas are becoming more active and involved in creating change, in making the world a better place. I was going to tell you about the grandmothers in Monterey, recruited by the police to help fight the proliferation of gangs. It didn’t take much encouragement from the cops before the abuelitas picked up the ball and ran with it; they’re coming up with actions and programs large and small to improve their grandkids’ lives in ways that might keep them out of gang activity.

grandma_webtemplate_4_06.jpg I was also going to tell you about Grandmothers Against the War, a group whose primary goal is to end the Iraq war, and who’ve expanded the concept of grandmother beyond individuals and their role in the family to one of all-embracing love.

I was going to write about the International Grandmothers for Peace, originally formed to eliminate nuclear weapons, and expanded to include the dangers of nuclear power plants, radioactive waste, nuclear testing, the nuclearization of space, and global militarism. A core of activists are supported by Stay at Home members, women who, for reasons of age and/or health can’t do as much, but who write letters and make calls to elected officials, circulate petitions, raise funds, and “guide their grandchildren in the ways of non-violence”.

I was going to talk about Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, the Argentinian movement “dedicated to tracing their grandchildren who disappeared during the military regime that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983, and bringing those responsible to account.”

I was going to remind everyone of that wonderful picture of Nancy Pelosi’s swearing-in ceremony as Speaker of the House, surrounded by her grandchildren.

gay-grandmas.jpg I was going to recommend Real to Reel: Ruthie and Connie, Deborah Dickson’s award-winning film chronicling the friendship, romance, and journey of two 1950’s housewives who transformed themselves into modern-day lesbian-grandmother activists.

And I thought I’d end by directing readers to Google, as I did, the phrase grandmother activists. It turned up 1,020,000 entries.

But something happened on the way to the celebration of grandmotherhood: I got depressed comparing my life to those of all these remarkable women. Sure, I could list all my excuses, the reasons why I’m not as active and remarkable, but that’d come off sounding pathetic.

Or, I could stop my pissing and moaning, get off my butt, and become a zesty postmenopausal powerhouse myself.

For now I’ll just say, All hail the powerful Grandma.

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2 responses »

  1. Great article Marcy. In our small village of Walla Walla, WA, there is a group of women, the Grandmother’s Roundtable whose discussions involve county issues such as growth, planning, watershed issues, logging, etc. An impressive group.

  2. Beautifully written. None of your posts are quick creations are they? I love your honesty. I have been thinking a lot lately about ageing and getting comfortable with it and your post has really added to my thoughts. Thanks.

    Thanks for your comments. I’m so glad you’re still coming around–you’re possibly my most loyal reader! 

    Some of my posts take longer than others. Granny Power actually didn’t take long at all–I switched gears midway, and just went with what I was feeling; whereas something like Criminalizing Childhood entailed more research and fine-tuning. Ironically, the posts that take me the longest to write are the ones on baseball!  I’m still a novice at sports writing, and a lot of tedious research on statistics and such is involved. 

    Anyhow, I really appreciate what you’re saying, and your continuing support.–MS

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