So, yes, the physical bullshit of becoming more than middle aged is a huge pain in the keister. But I sort of expected it...albeit in a neater, tidier, shorter duration kind of way. And because I'm me, it fits in with the whole modern day Job without the God kind of theme that is my life.
What I did not expect was this whole "ceasing to exist as a woman" thing. Seriously. I mean, I'm the last person to suggest that you should judge your self worth by how men (or whomever you're attracted to) pay attention to you. And right, all expletive the patriarchy and goddamn men who size up any available women as a potential conquest. Rawr! Except that I do believe that it's completely normal to appreciate anyone's attractiveness and who cares if you've reduced a total stranger to nothing more than an object for your fantasies? Assuming that you're capable of tossing that objectification aside once you actually talk to, or work with, or otherwise interact with that person, I personally think that's harmless and normal.
So, yeah, I take pleasure in knowing that someone else finds me sexually attractive. I know, not everyone does. But I do. And if the only interaction we have is sitting at the same bar, or walking by each other in the street, then whatever, objectify away. I do the same to men, so I can't very well get my girlbits in a wad over them doing the same in return. Until we start talking...well, then. Admittedly, I don't have a lot of fear of continued objectification at that point, mostly because I'm pretty good at conversationally grabbing someone by the septum and laying their head down on the bar if on the off chance they still think I'm nothing but a walking vagina just waiting for a man's attention.
Used to be, I'd go into a bar and men in my age range would give me the up and down. There'd be some appreciative glances, some smiles. Some days I couldn't care less; I've got other stuff on my mind. But when it's respectful, I enjoyed the compliment.
Just a couple of years ago, we'd hit the bar next door after work and I could be assured of getting some glances. Hey, all of my workfriends are younger than I am, so I'm totally used to them getting more attention. But I'd get my little share...and plenty of guys who were interested in my friends, but would at least include me in the conversation, whether it was the hey, be nice to the friend or the back-up plan in case I can't get the young, hot one strategy. Traveling alone, when I was on business travel, I couldn't sit at the bar and get through a drink without someone hitting on me.
But lately? It's as if I don't even exist. Same bar, same friends, same businessmen-on-travel crowd. The only guy that's checked me out in the last year in a bar was in his early seventies. And now, when guys are hitting on my friends, they'll actually shoulder in between me and my friends, cutting me right out of the conversation. If I try to participate, they'll look at me like "oh, did you say something?" and then turn right back to my friends.
Sort of makes me want to turn Full Imperial Dragon on them, grab them by the septum and make them hear me. Remind them that the closest way to a woman's...ahem, heart...is to be nice to her friends. But then I'd just fit the stereotype of that mouthy older woman at the bar.
Although now I'm beginning to see why that stereotype exists. Mother of Pearl! Sometimes I feel as if I could have a heart attack and I'm not sure anyone would notice. It makes me sort of want to be completely outrageous. Which I often am, admittedly but I want to be doing that because it's fun and feels good, or maybe it just leaked out, not because I had an attack of self-esteem and am looking to salve that with some shallow meaningless attention.
Scientists continue to maintain that there is absolutely no evidence to support the idea that humans have kept their ability to smell pheremones...but I dunno, I'm pretty sure that at least subconsciously, men can smell menopause. I have no other explanation. I don't look that different than I did two years ago. Just with less estrogen stank, apparently.
Note to friends who actually know me -- this isn't a plaintive "why does no one find me attractive" cry for assurance. I can still own a room, especially if it's filled with people who find confident, smart women attractive. Trust me, you guys do a fabulous job of making me feel desirable. And right now I'm debating the merits of dating a 30 year old who's flirting with me, so I'm not exactly bereft. It's just that conceptually it pisses me off.
Data backs me up -- you want to know what's disheartening, as a woman? Reading the data collected on by a data site, Dataclysm by Christian Rudder (fascinating book) that clearly plots out both men and women's (hetero, at least) attraction to the opposite sex as they age. For women, on average when we're younger, we prefer men our age and older...and then at some point in middle age, we gradually swith over to prefer men our age and younger.
On the other hand, men, on average, when they're younger, prefer women who are 29. And when they're older, yep, 29. As a matter of fact, at all ages, that's what men prefer. 29 year olds. So, those of you women who are approaching 29, live it up! Because it's all downhill from there.
Not really, of course. There's way more to life, and certainly relationships, than shallow first glance attraction. But still, for a single woman in her fifties, trying to date men...well, it's understandable why so many women say "Expletive it, I'm done!" And either just stop trying to date or turn to female companionship.