Copyright © 2007 Henrietta W. Hay
Send in the Clones
February 9, 2007
(This column first appeared in the Sentinel on September 21, 1992.
Please remember that I was only 78 when wrote it!)
I read a headline recently that said, "A croning achievement." A typo in a headline? But it turned out to be a pun. Carolyn Harrison, a doctoral candidate at Claremont College, has developed a rite of passage for women over 50. In mythology Crone is a part of The Trinity, Virgin, Mother, Crone. The three are one, just as each woman is one through her life.
In our society we don't often find wise and old used in the same sentence, and the word crone is now defined as an ugly, withered old woman. Harrison feels that older women need to regain their position as the "wise old"
Far too many women of my age 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!
There are a lot of interesting crones around now. One that I get a special kick out of is Julia Child, the thoroughly American French chef. She is 80, and still cooking up a storm. Her voice and her motions are the same as they have always been as she stands up there before the camera and chops and mixes and bakes The small amount of inspiration I still have in the kitchen comes from her.
(Note: She died in 2006)
An American Crone who helped start a revolution is Betty Friedan. She was in her 40's when she wrote "The Feminine Mystique" and has been in the forefront of feminist movement ever since. Now 71, she is still important enough to be excoriated by my non-favorite radio non-personality, Rush Limbaugh. He ridiculed the idea of calling her the Mother of Feminism. His not very subtle un-point was that a Mother needs to have had a Man. Her grandchildren might point out that the Father of our Country needed a Woman, too, but both Betty and George did just fine without Rush. (She died last year at 82.)
Although most movie actresses are young and beautiful, there are a few Crones even there. Jessica Tandy has been in the theater for more years than a lot of us have lived and at 83 is still making good movies.
One field of activity that does not allow Crones is television news. There if your hair starts to show gray and a wrinkle appears, you will probably be job hunting. In TV comedy, however, Estelle Getty at 68 is still more than a match for the Golden Girls.
Texas has its own Crone Governor in Ann Richards, who came to politics after raising her family. She burst onto the national scene with the wickedly funny keynote speech at the Democratic Convention in 1988 and two years later she won the Texas governor ship in one of the dirtiest campaigns on record. Her opponent was the good ole boy who said that rape is like the weather. If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it. (Note: Ann Richards died last year.)
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."