I've seen a bunch of things lately that have reminded me how we so specifically set an expiration date on women's relevance. What I'm talking about is very tied to my firmly held belief that society views women's worth as a function of their desirability to the average man. And because of the interaction between ageism and misogyny, it means that women over a certain age (I'm not exactly sure where the cut off is, but it generally seems to be around 40) are worthless.
Amy Schumer took this on rather well in a recent skit for her show called, "Last Fuckable Day." She stumbles across Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Patricia Arquette having a party (holy White Lady feminism crew...I know, I know) to celebrate Louis-Dreyfus' "last fuckable day." It's pretty funny, but also it just rings true for how women in general, and women in Hollywood specifically, are treated as they age.
Perhaps nothing more clearly demonstrates this than the recent story of Maggie Gyllenhaal being told at age 37 that she's too old to play the romantic opposite of a 55 year old man. As she told The Wrap
"There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time...I’m 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh."If you pay any attention to movies basically at all, then this really isn't surprising to you. It's, sadly, a rather tested principle. In fact, as Vulture reports, on average, leading men age, but their love interests don't. Here's just one of the graphs they compiled, showing the growing age difference between Denzel Washington and his co-stars. They found this for numerous older A List male celebrities.
|Photo credit Vulture|
Another age related story recently made me think more about this topic. News broke that Rebel Wilson is actually 35, not 29. GASP!!!! THE HORROR!! Apparently, this is something people care about...? I mean, I can certainly understand Wilson not talking about her real age, given all that I've already mentioned about ageism + misogyny in Hollywood (plus fatphobia, in her case.) But is outrage and an investigation really needed? Does this really impact people's perception of her? DOES IT EVEN MATTER?!
Like I said, all of this just registers to me as further demonstration of the whole "the further away that a woman is from what the average dude bro wants to bone, the more worthless she is" principle. And we could pretend that these things are isolated to "what women in Hollywood deal with and therefore not a big deal" but this stuff both influences and is influenced by our culture. Hollywood doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's consumed by us all (to varying degrees) and whether or not we believe it, it impacts perceptions of ourselves and others.
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