Copyright © 2006 Henrietta W. Hay
Send in the Crones!
May 19, 2006
I have had a struggle trying to find a satisfactory name for women over 70. There are roughly 15 million of us in America and a lot of us are still active and productive. "Little old ladies" doesn't sound right.
"Old women" is much worse. A standing joke at the Commons where I live is, "See that woman over there, the one with white hair?" But "white haired female" won't work.
One answer is in Greek mythology The word "Crone" is a part of The Trinity -- Virgin, Mother, Crone. The three are one, just as each woman is one through her life. To become a Crone is to become one of the Wise Old Women.
In our society we don't often find "wise" and "old" used in the same sentence and if you add the word "woman" to it, -- forget it! The word "crone" is now thought of as a withered old woman. We need to regain our position as the "wise old women."
Far too many women over 70 are sitting back watching the world go by without really being an active part of it. We are, however, the logical activists. The "Maidens" tend to be so starry eyed that they don't know there are problems. The "Mothers" are busy trying to hold home and children and job together . So it's up to us, the "Crones," to do what we can to save the world.
One of my favorite crones was the thoroughly American French chef, Julia Child. She died two years ago at the age of 92 in a retirement community with a special kitchen in her apartment. She was still cooking up a storm in 2000 when she ended her long TV career with a two hour show. She would stand there before the camera and chop and mix and bake while making a running commentary on just about sanything.
An American Crone who helped start a revolution was Betty Friedan. She was in her 40's when she wrote "The Feminine Mystique" and was in the forefront of the feminist movement until her death. She died this year on her 85th birthday. Not long ago Rush Limbaugh ridiculed the idea of calling her the Mother of Feminism. His not very subtle point was that a Mother needs to have had a Man. Friedan's grandchildren (not yet crones) pointed out that the Father of our Country needed a Woman, too, but both Betty and George did just fine.
An athletic crone works right here where I live. Now 73, Margaret Patty has won two gold medals in the past two years in the NASTAR skiing championships and she is going for the third this year. Her events are racing and the giant slalom.
An outstanding political crone is Madeline Albright. She turned 69 this week, so I am fudging a little, but she is certainly a wise woman. She was the first female Secretary of State, was the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and a member of the National Security Council. But that's not all. She works out three times a week and says, "I can do a leg press of up to 400 pounds.
The "Maidens" are beautiful and energetic but not too interested in social reform. The "Mothers" are trying to survive and keep it all together. So if you really want to save the world, "Send in the Crones."