Failed politician Bernard Gaynor has persistently directed a stream of venomous, misinformed, ideologically twisted abuse towards high-profile, transgender army officer, Lt Col Cate McGregor. Following his lead, (absent any evidence whatsoever), I returned the favour with a soliloquy on the probable diminutive dimensions of Mr Gaynor’s reproductive organ.
The initial run of comments from Christian conservatives was predictable given I’d let the genitalia genie out of Bernie’s boxers. It was variously assumed I was a gay male, or a woman suffering from testicle envy. I was told that if my fanny was as big as my mouth it would be a yawning chasm. I was likened to a street whore; a ‘cheap, nasty, unappealing caricature of womanhood’. I was accused of being unfunny, unintelligent and a ‘despicable, vile dissembler’.
An argument I didn’t anticipate, however, is that, as a 55 year old woman, I am too old to be publicly speculating about the size of a 33 year old man’s penis. That rather took the wind out of my sails. It was the first time in my life anyone has suggested my age should govern my behaviour.
“There’s something disturbing about a woman your age discussing the penis size of a much younger man,” said a reader, calling herself “Aienna”.
To be frank, neither my age nor Gaynor’s had entered my mind when I set to writing about his wee willy. I had no idea of his age and I think of my age so seldom I have trouble remembering when somebody asks.
Bernard Gaynor, I was hastily informed, is 33 years old, “the age at which Jesus Christ was crucified”. I wondered at the compulsion to use such a tenuous connection to link Gaynor with Christ. Did the correspondent anticipate Gaynor’s martyrdom at my whorish heathen hands was destined to be immortalised in stained glass icons depicting The Emasculation of St Bernard?
The Emasculation of St Bernard! Oh dear! It does rather make one think of a very large dog bearing a little wooden cask of brandy getting ‘the snip’, doesn’t it? Perhaps that’s what the brandy’s for!
“You are a decrepit old tart, Chrys,” wrote a critic called James, all too keen to remind me that dried up old crones like me have no place criticizing upstanding young men like Gaynor.
“Bernard Gaynor is young enough to be your son. You left it too late to get in the groove. This is the digital age. 45s and LPs are museum pieces like you.”
My sin in riffing about Bernie’s cock size was compounded when another of his defenders challenged my refusal to admit to the ‘ickiness’ of same-sex intercourse by asking how I’d feel if my ‘significant other’ harboured homoerotic fantasies.
My admission that I’d think it was ‘hot’ only seemed to inflame the situation. I was branded (to my great delight) as “a poor woman’s Catherine Deveny” given that my “standards are lower than most women of similar socio-economic cultural background”.
The issue, James insisted, is the “standard of behaviour expected of women the age of Rosinante”.
I have to admit to a great hoot of laughter at being compared to Rosinante, Don Quixote’s ancient, sway backed, emaciated old nag.
What my apparently half-educated critic failed to understand was that Rosinante (aka Rocinante) literally means formerly (ante) an old hack (rocin).
In the eyes of Cervantes’ hero, Don Quixote, the animal transformed from an old farm horse into a noble steed. The name, Rosinante, was deliberately chosen (both by Don Quixote and his creator, Cervantes) to reflect that elevation in status. Having undertaken a rather major transformation myself lately, I’m pretty happy with the comparison.
Of course, James intended it as an insult. But, to his credit, he made me think: is there really some ‘standard of behaviour’ expected of women my age? If so, I think I missed that memo.
Is there really an expectation that a woman of my age shouldn’t discuss penises or think gay sex is hot? What else is verboten? Should I throw out that cute little neon lime mini skirt and start wearing “Osti” polyester dresses? Do I need to ditch the high heels in favour of sensible shoes? I guess the balconette bras will have to go. Should I learn to play pinochle, take up crochet, and buy a budgie?
My mother is nearly 90 years old. She still wears jeans and high heeled boots and has the figure of a woman 75 years her junior. To my recollection she has never acted – nor even thought about – what is appropriate for a woman of ‘her age’. As a result, despite now being in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, she is active, fashion-conscious, and progressive in her social and political views.
When she sees television reports about homosexuality she often reflects wistfully, “I would have liked to have had a gay son.
When she was approached by religious hawkers as she weeded our front garden, recently, she warned, “Oh, you’re wasting your time with us, dear. We’re atheists.”
Because of my mother, I maintain close links with a number of octo- and nono-genarians. They don’t seem to conform to any unwritten rule about acting their age either.
Recently, I confided to a very elderly female relative that I’d developed a minor but rather embarrassing infection that was likely to put a damper on a long-awaited romantic tryst.
“Don’t worry about it, darling!” she comforted me. “You can just give him a blow job.”
Oh! Ok, then!
It may be news to Bernard Gaynor and his ilk, but we ‘older women’ not only like talking about sex, we rather like having it.
An article on Slate this month reported that women over 70 are having the best sex of their lives. According to researcher, Bylris Kraknow, one 77 year old was inspired to try fellatio for the first time after watching a YouTube video titled “Learn How to Give a Blow Job Like a Pro.” Clearly determined not to appear like a rookie, she practiced, first, on a banana. If only James had been around to educate her about the ‘standard of behaviour’ required of a woman of her advanced years. I like to think she might have responded by speculating on the size of his todger.
Another septuagenarian confided, “I’m 72 and I am having the best sex I’ve ever had in my life.”
So hot were the elderly woman’s sex tips, said Kraknow, she felt the need of a post-interview ice bath.
At 55 years old I feel I’m at my intellectual, sexual and physical peak. Is this really a time when I should be monitoring how I dress, what I say, how I act and what I think based on some unwritten rule that I should ‘act my age’? And, indeed, if my friends are any kind of barometer, I am acting my age.
What I’m not doing is acting like a 55 year old woman who was brought up under the paternalistic, misogynistic restrictions of the mid-nineteenth century. My sin is that I have failed to affect the demeanour of a sexless old spinster. I have committed the felony of abandoning my knitting for social engagement. I have shamelessly dared to ridicule, not just a man, not just a God-fearing man, but a younger man. In doing so, I have, apparently disrupted the ‘natural’ hierarchy of social power. God knows, I’m probably responsible for a tear in the space-time continuum. I am, according to Gaynor’s defender, James, “a walking violation of nature”.
And here is the bad news for the religious fundamentalist fuddy-duddies whose image of femininity harks back to the days of farthingales, phaetons and fans. Women have long since realised that the status quo does not serve our interests. Women, of any age, will not be silenced by your pursed-lipped, mealy-mouthed, admonishments that we should behave ‘like ladies’ or act ‘our age’. We will not be controlled or subdued by your anachronistic self-serving ideals of femininity. We will not set aside our sexuality when we have passed breeding age. And we won’t be shamed into silence by slurs relating to our age, looks, weight, sexuality, political or religious beliefs.
And here’s some more bad news, boys – being male no longer gets you a free pass. Act like a donkey and some woman’s going to call you an ass. Act like a dick and some woman’s going to speculate on the size of yours.
I may be as old as Rosinante but I’m still up for a good gallop, a roll in the hay and a bout or two of tilting at windmills.