Is it oxymoronic to be a professional, powerful woman over the age of 60? One would think not, yet according to a rash of US articles on women in the workplace in the last five years that speak of such women as rare specimens previously unknown, things are changing. The recent abundance of powerful older women – from actress Glenn Close at 71 to politician Nancy Pelosi at 78 – betokens an astounding turning of the tides in the US, where demographics have begun to undo the relentless symbolic suppression of older women. No longer is erasure and invisibility the fate of the post-menopausal woman, or so these accounts would lead us to believe. But at the same time as this new age of the older woman is being touted, actual women in their 60’s and 70’s are finding it increasingly difficult to find employment, much less reach levels of success and achievement. Looking at the life and career of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the documentary The Notorious RBG (2018) and the feature film On the Basis of Sex (2019), this presentation will ask if the agentive older woman is the exception that proves the rule or the example that becomes the rule?
Agism, American Exceptionalism, Media, Gender
Social and Cultural Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Professor, Gender Studies, Indiana University, United States