From One Who Works with Crones
by Cheryl Storey
... women's minds are constantly being filled with debased images of Crones [wise old women]. These range from the "wicked stepmother" images injected through fairy tales and Halloween caricatures of witches, to the mother-in-law jokes that enliven" parties and t. v. situation comedies (1).
Discrimination against older women is an educational form of violence in our society. Its ultimate end rationalizes the erasure of women's individual and collective presence, energy and empowerment which often grow and develop as women age. As the above quotation illustrates, "[a]ging in women is 'unbeautiful' since women grow more powerful with time and since the links between generations of women must always be newly broken: older women fear young ones, young women fear old" (2). In an ageist and patriarchal society, aging in women is not just considered "ugly," but an outright disease.
Menopause, for example, has been described as "the most serious endocrinological disorder next to diabetes" by a member of the Western medical establishment and as "the death of womanhood" by others (3). Our worth, power, presence - erased. When we are the majority of voices in old age, when we have the benefit of experience and the energy for our own pursuits, patriarchy teaches us that our power was in our youth, that we are continually diseased.
Firstly, I will examine how what we learn about growing old as women serves to rationalize and perpetuate the violence committed against us throughout our lives be it through commission, omission or outright denial. And secondly, how a crucial aspect of violence prevention in relation to older women is celebrating and re-claiming our her stories, our "chronologies" (4), our "power-from-within" (5).