MATURE WOMAN SERIES

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

_Mary Oliver
 

If we cannot redefine the illusions of misogyny, youth culture and the mirror surface of consumer advertising, we will misunderstand that each mature woman holds within her a strident reality, a voice and an unequivocal life.

 

The point of this series is to examine the idea of maturity. The women who understand love and grief, the realm of imperfection, who hold life with a tenderness, whose narratives are at times inconvenient, and whose intellect and sensuality has shifted with experience, are at once essentially knowledgeable, talented, mortal and remarkable.

 

As Susan Sontag suggests: ‘Women have another option. They can aspire to be wise, not merely nice; to be competent, not merely helpful; to be strong, not merely graceful; to be ambitious for themselves, not merely for themselves in relation to men and children. They can let themselves age naturally and without embarrassment, actively protesting and disobeying the conventions that stem from this society’s double standard about aging. Instead of being girls, girls as long as possible, who then age humiliatingly into middle-aged women, they can become women much earlier – and remain active adults, enjoying the long, erotic career of which women are capable, far longer. Women should allow their faces to show the lives they have lived. Women should tell the truth.’

Susan Sontag - The Double Standard of Aging (1972).