Androgyny at the Borders Coda: Grandma Sheds Her Skin

At some point in my anthropology and folklore studies I encountered this story about the grandmother of us all.

When she was an old crone, she went down to the water and shed her old skin, and left it hanging on a bush. She walked back up to the village: svelte, smooth lithe, gleaming, naturally attracting quite a bit of attention from her sons and grandsons, who crowded around her expressing sexual invitations.
“Boys, it’s ME, grandma!” she chuckles.
“AAAACK!! GRANDMA!?!? What are you DOING, looking like…that?” sez the men’s chorus.
“I got tired of my old skin, so I shed it”, she explains. “Well, PUT IT BACK!” cry the gents. “We nearly shagged our own grandmother! Sheesh!”
“Okay”, she sez. “But if I do, then all people, from now on, will be stuck with their old skins, nobody will ever be able to shed them for new ones like I just did.”
“What EVS!” wail the gents, covering their eyes with their hands. “Just GO, DO it!”
Back to the riverbank, where she shrugs back into her loose old pelt that she had left hanging on the bush. And lo, she spoke true.

So about sexuality in old age: well, nobody WANTS an old woman to be sexy. They don’t really want you to look good, men do not want, they’d be ashamed, to feel any attraction for an older woman. It’s a real tabu, and jokes about how repulsive they—we—are are still tolerated, even though other kinds of “sexism” are now anathema. And the way little old ladies are expected to dress is, if anything, infantile again. Unless you’re a pedophilic man, those fussy furbelows are a definite turnoff, I would imagine. I said in my previous post that they still dress like women, but actually, they dress-again- like little girls!

The folk tale is of those types which “explain” mortality and senescence with reference to the incest tabu. But why is it The Grandmother” rather than “The Grandfather” who shucks the old pelt? Actually the thought of him sneaking back to camp as a young buck and sticking it to his female descendants is…just….not as shocking, is it? I dky. Maybe for the same reason that, although we DO hear old-age jokes about men, they’re usually based on the comedic possibilities of weakness or incapacity, rather than on the frisson of repulsion which is behind the ones about seeing an old WOMAN naked, or :nauseated_face:actually making love with her.

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Reputedly, one of the Ancient Greek philosophers when he had reached old age was asked by a young acolyte how it felt to be too old for sex. The old philosopher replied: ‘I am glad to be free of that hard taskmaster’.

Smart guys, those old Greek philosophers!

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Yes, but the point of my two posts was, ARE we ever free of the “hard taskmaster” of our gender? There’s more to it than just the post and hole.

Maybe I am missing the point – but can we ever be free of our gender? It is a key undeniable part of who each of us is.

If there is dissatisfaction on the distaff side of things, it may be a consequence of modern Western culture’s denigration of the existentially important role of women – bringing the next generation of humans into the world and rearing them to be productive citizens. It seems that “feminists” consider a woman’s place is in some government cubicle stamping pieces of regulatory paper (which even a man could handle) rather than doing the vital task which only a woman can do.

Of course, if an individual woman would rather be in a cubicle than bringing up children, that is her choice and it is ok. But there seems to be a lot of social pressure on women who really would rather focus on family & children instead to spend their lives in a cubicle. This seems to create a high sense of stress & dissatisfaction among many women in the West, particularly as they get older.

The future of the human race is in the hands of women! Why are so many women not proudly stepping up to that challenge and getting satisfaction from the essential role which only the female gender can fulfill?