OUR TIME IS NOW

Our time is now.

As a young girl growing up in the ‘60s, I was raised in a sheltered New England community. Back then, I had yet to see a female newscaster, a female doctor, a female astronaut, or a female soldier. My young mind would have thought such a thing impossible.

Not long ago, the mature woman, as presented to us by mass media, was obsessed with keeping her husband’s dirty shirt collars clean and his coffee cup filled. To be a woman relegated you to a narrowly defined path; you were not encouraged, or expected, to wish for more. Television and movies portrayed the over-40 woman as asexual, content to tend to the needs of others at the expense of her own. What dreams they may once have harbored, now buried beyond reach. The worn cliché of a woman never admitting to being over 29 years of age is grounded in fact; to admit to anything else was to put oneself in danger of being deemed obsolete.

Flash to the 21st century — today. What a difference! From Hollywood to Washington DC, female role models abound. Together we have witnessed, and continue to witness, history in the making. History made when Nancy Pelosi took to the podium as the first-ever female US Speaker of the House. History now unfolding as Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman in history to find herself in serious contention for the position of United States President. Whether or not Hillary is elected, the landscape of US politics is forever changed. For the better.

Our time is now.

One need look no further than Candice Bergan’s character, Shirley Schmidt of ABC’s Boston Legal, to see a woman of action. Age is no barrier to Shirley, nor to Candice. They’re both smart, successful, vibrant, and confident in their sexuality. No wonder Candice was chosen to play the part.

Sally Field, Diane Keaton, Teri Hatcher, are just a few of the many women over 40 who have, throughout their careers, helped to shape the collective consciousness of more than one generation. Our daughters look, as did we, to these older women, and to the characters they play. In them, they see walking, talking evidence of that which is possible; that they too are free to pursue their dreams.

The beautiful and intelligent Vanessa Williams, age 44, gracing of cover of February’s More Magazine, it’s 10th Anniversary Edition, said, “I’m enjoying every moment. In your twenties, you think, I’ve got to prove something. In your forties, you don’t.” Bravo, Vanessa.

Our time is now.

We’re wiser at 40 than we were at 30. But to those of us nearing 60, 70, or older, the 40-year old is but a child. Most of us, sadly not all, have, by the time we’ve reached 40, learned some lessons along the way. For sure, we’ve learned a thing or two about life, and about our ability to cope and adapt when change rears its head. We embrace our dreams; no longer afraid of failure, for failure is just another lesson to be learned. We refuse to live a life of regret forged by an unwillingness to act upon our dreams.

Face it, 40 isn’t the new 30 any more than 60 is the new 40. But so what? We no longer feel compelled to lie about our age. We’ve earned those numbers and do not shrink from admitting them. We no longer feel it necessary to add “for my age” to the end of each sentence when we see ourselves in a mirror and admit that we look pretty good. Far from hanging up the “out of order” sign, aging prepares us to experience that which is to come. Our confidence, not to be confused with youth’s false bravado, is real, and comes from deep within. We’ve learned to trust our instincts in our quest to realize our potential.

Our time is now!

Speaking for myself, this is one over-40 woman who will not sit on the sidelines, content to watch the young girls have all the fun.

My Time is now. How about you?

Posted by Mandy Crest, Blogger for Women Over 40 Rock! and In The Trenches Productions

Women Conductors: Her Baton Isn’t for Twirling!

Her Baton Isn’t For Twirling

In the ‘70’s, my father loved to tell the story about being aboard a commercial jet and discovering that the pilot was a woman. He’d relive his outrage and panic. He wanted to get off; he wanted a refund; he had to swallow all his “goof balls” (anti-anxiety meds) to survive the flight. My sisters and I could never determine if he told this story simply to get a rise out of us or, we wondered, did he actually believe what he spouted, that women were suitable for 3 professions: teachers, nurses or nuns. Too bad one of his daughters didn’t become a nursing nun assigned to a foreign mission school, and then Dad could also justify his love of exotic travel. But the ‘70’s are ancient history and thankfully, barriers for women have fallen in most professions.

On November 23, 2006 my husband and I went to Disney Hall to hear the Los Angeles Philharmonic perform a Brahms/Dvorak program. I knew little about the evening; our friends had given us two tickets they couldn’t use. It was Casual Friday, which is a very cool series that the LA Phil created “with classical music neophytes in mind”. Orchestra members are casually dressed and there are programs before and after the concert in which the players discuss the music and their lives as musicians.

After the orchestra was seated, a young attractive woman dressed in Gap black casual, her long, dark hair pulled back with a headband, walked out carrying a baton. “Wait a minute,” I thought, “surely she’s not ….” but, yes, she stepped up to the podium and took command. I had never before seen a woman conduct a symphony orchestra. As Alex Ross noted in the January 7, 2008 edition of The New Yorker, “It isn’t so much that misogyny runs rampant in the music world; it’s that the classical business is temperamentally resistant to novelty, whether in the form of female conductors, American conductors, younger conductors, new music, post 1900 concert dress or concert-hall color schemes that aren’t corporate beige”.
Since the role of conductor is the ultimate authority figure, it was very impressive to see this young woman, Joana Carneiro, confidently take charge. She was the guest conductor and she was magnificent. As part of the Casual Friday series, she, along with two of the soloists, stayed for a post concert Q&A with the audience. She was warm and open and told about growing up in Portugal in a very musical household. She said she knew she wanted to be a conductor from the age of 8. How lucky for her that she is living her dream.

What I found amazing is that she conducted the Dvorak Symphony No.9 “From the New World” without the score in front of her. She is a very young woman; how many times could she have conducted this symphony? She said she prepared, not by listening to other recordings of the symphony, but by studying the score. Her interpretation was wonderful – crisp, triumphant, moving and very passionate. I agree with one of the audience members who voiced the thought that she was ready to have her own orchestra.

Spending an evening watching this dynamic young woman on the podium inspired me to revisit not only my Dvorak “New World” CD, but many other classical CD’s I hadn’t listened to in a long time. Like many multi-taskers, I’d stopped listening to classical music because I believed I didn’t have time to truly listen and savor the music. But, hey, when you think about it, isn’t that what traffic congestion in LA is perfectly suited for?
This is not a slam at Los Angeles, my adopted home. As Alex Ross also noted in The New Yorker, on “Lists of forward-thinking American orchestras – the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony are the de-facto leaders.” So I shout out a “BRAVO” to our city’s musical establishment for bringing Joana Carneiro to the helm. Perhaps Joana’s career will inspire a new crop of young women to enter a field that had seemed closed to them.

Jan Bina, Blogger for Women Over 40 Rock / In the Trenches Productions

Actresses who actually look like real women!

Whether its because I am now a 65 year old actress, or whether by chance, I have suddenly noticed a spate of older actresses who…could it be?…actually look their age instead of 22! – I was at a screening of “Gone Baby Gone” the other day, and there was Amy Madigan looking like a middle-aged woman. That was followed by a screening of “Atonement”…and there was Vanessa Redgrave looking like an older woman. Then last night I was watching “Law & Order SVU” and there was the actress who plays the character Elliot’s wife (forgive me, I’ve forgotten her name), looking like a woman hitting her 40s…and then I noticed that the other women on that show – Mariska Hargitay, Judith Light…all of them, while looking good, also look REAL! Good for them!!!! And I hope, whether its because I’m now 65 and noticing these things more or not, that I continue to be able to chalk up tv shows and movies that treat the female characters as they have always treated the male characters…and allow them to be REAL human beings who actually progress beyond the age of 22! My heartfelt thanks to them all and to the actresses, who, even if they have had some facial work done, want to remain looking human. Thanks, ladies!
Judith, 65 & proud of it, Drake, Blogger for Women Over40 Rock/In the Trenches Productions

Published in: on November 23, 2007 at 9:46 pm  Comments (3)  
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The Rudest Question

Whenever I have a doctor’s appointment I anticipate a certain amount of discomfort and embarrassment. But should that begin in the waiting room? Two of my doctors are connected with a large university facility and to confirm your identity, you have to announce your date of birth in the waiting room. This strikes me as rather cruel. Waiting rooms are small and oddly intimate spaces. The first time I was asked, I put on my best Tennessee Williams accent and said, “Why darling, don’t you know it is bad manners to ask a lady her age?” The receptionist stared vacantly at me and flatly repeated the question. During subsequent visits I have taken to quickly saying my numbers, then slinking to the nearest seat, feeling the eyes of the other patients stealing glances at me. As other patients come in, I am guilty of the same age assessment game, surreptitiously peering out from behind Newsweek – gee, someone looks a lot older than 60!

At my last appointment, I was ready for the age question and simply held up an index card with my date of birth. The receptionist laughed and then told me about a patient who responded to the dreaded date of birth question, by shooing her husband to the farthest corner of the waiting room before whispering her numbers. Ridiculous? Not really. I know a number of women who’ve never told their husbands their age. I don’t know the exact age of most of my women friends. One night over drinks, a friend who’d kept her age a closely guarded secret, revealed her DOB. I was flattered; I felt like family. She said she’d told so many lies about her age that to remember her actual age she had to stop and do the math.

The bigger issue, aside from UCLA changing their nasty way of identifying patients, is why after 50, no one wants to admit their true age. For most people over 50, every birthday is their 30th. The other day I heard a very bright progressive radio talk show host ruefully commenting that her birthday was approaching and she’d be 30 – again. We try to comfort ourselves with bromides like “50 is the new 30” and “60 is the new 40”. I asked an 80 year old friend if 80 was the new 60. He replied, “No, 80 is 80.’ Well said. Maybe by the time we get to 80 we can start wearing our age as a badge of honor. Maybe it takes getting to 80 to stop playing foolish ego games regarding age.

But when you start admitting your age, will people view you differently? What I certainly fear about aging is that I will no longer be relevant, that my ideas will seem hopelessly old school. I work part time in an office where I am definitely the oldest on the staff. So far I haven’t felt any age discrimination from my younger co-workers. In fact, I enjoy all of them especially a 25 year old young woman. I could tell from our conversations that I was older than her mother. The other day we were talking about something in my past, and I off-handedly mentioned my true age, which I’d been careful to obscure. She blinked many times, and turned ashen. As I rushed to get her water, she said, “Wow, you don’t look your age.” I couldn’t tell whether she was shocked because I was that old or, horror of horrors, that young. To her credit, not long after that incident we went to see a play together and afterward went to a bar where I got CARDED. I asked the bouncer if it was seniors’ night and if I was entitled to a discount. The bouncer took one look at my license and practically threw it back to me. I’ll take his dismissive behavior over the movie ticket gal who gave me the senior discount without my asking for it! Ouch – that hurt. But I digress. I had a lively evening with my young friend and we’re planning another girl’s night out. For me, I felt incredibly free. I no longer needed to disguise dates from my past to prevent her from determining my age. So, how old am I? Well, I was born after WWII but I missed being a baby boomer by 5 months.
Now it’s your turn to do the math.

Jan Bina – still not ready to admit her exact age to the world.
In The Trenches Productions

Published in: on October 6, 2007 at 7:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

What Are We Telling Young Women?

I was working on a TV show the other day….got there at 7am, dragged myself to the makeup trailer and slumped down into the chair, wondering if I was ever gonna wake up. I needn’t have worried. The conversation going on between the two young, attractive, 20-something hair/makeup women woke me up immediately.
“How is she doing?”
“OK…she said they think the operation went well, they won’t know for sure for a few days, and she’s in some pain and won’t be able to see for a while.”
Oh dear, I thought, one of their friends must have been in an accident, or, God forbid, have the big C or something. So I asked what had happened.
“Oh she got her eye lids done.” “How old is she?” I asked. “22. But they were a little baggy.” “Oh”..and I shut my mouth.
Their conversation continued. One said that as soon as she had the money she was going to get her face pulled tight and maybe a little lipo. The other said she wanted to have her boobs done and remove a little from her ass.
“Well” said one, “if I ever get the money, I’ll just have everything they possibly can do and have it done all at once.”
And the conversation went on and on…as I looked at their reflections in the mirrors…two lovely young girls…and wondered what the heck is wrong with this generation. What has our entertainment, fashion, magazine and ad agency ruled society taught them?? There are thousands around the world dying daily of starvation and hostilities, there are people who can’t afford to buy a compact and lipstick, let alone worry about how their noses look, and these girls just spent over an hour discussing cosmetic surgery and how they can’t wait to get some!!
I think its time we started letting the younger generation see REAL women in the movies, the TV shows, the magazines, the commercials, the billboards and the magazine ads that pepper their lives. We must start letting them see and understand that life is not about looking perfect (whatever that term means to them) but about being unique.
Hopefully more and more people will visit us at In The Trenches in trying to do just that. In trying to show the world that age and looks are not what it’s all about.
Judith old-chubby-lined-and-lovin’-it Drake
In the Trenches Productions.com

Published in: on October 1, 2007 at 5:31 pm  Comments (1)  

Bravo to MORE Magazine and Wilhelmina Model Agency!

REAL WOMEN MODELS?? COULD IT BE TRUE???
Imagine that! A woman who isn’t 18 and a size 1 – in a modeling contest! What fun!

Evidently MORE Magazine and Wilhelmina Models have teamed up to host what will be the eighth annual More/Wilhelmina 40+ Model Search, and only women 40 and older need apply. How often do you see those words?? The contest runs between Aug. 15 and Nov. 15, and to enter, or find out ‘More’ about it you can pick up the latest edition of the magazine or go to MORE or Wilhelmina Models.

I used to model in my youth…actually I was one of the first ‘chubby’ (not to say fat) models with an agency that started up in the late ’60s in New York City…Funny Face. It had the corner on the market for supplying unusual models that didn’t fit into the tall, thin (not to say anorexic) class. I got one of the best compliments of my career on one of those jobs…it was a pantyhose ad for the NY Times Magazine section, and it was shot by a famous fashion photographer (whose name, along with about 30 years of the 65 years of information stored in my brain has left the building). It was me and a ‘real’ model in pantyhose looking over our shoulders at the camera, and during the shoot he called out to me and the whole studio “Hey, too bad we don’t have more of these fashion plate models here…you could show them how to do it!” – So its nice to see that some people, at least, have become aware that you don’t have to be teen queen to be a great model.

Who knows, I may screw my courage to the sticking point and take my size 20 65-year-old body and throw it in the mix! – (The expense-paid trip to the NY finals and the lovely prizes, including a fashion spread in More, ARE tempting!) Or…. not, since I personally find it more and more difficult just to put lipstick on. – But if you’re over 40 and feel like a fun adventure, this might be a great one!
Judith over-40-and-lovin’-it Drake
In The Trenches Productions

Published in: on August 22, 2007 at 1:23 am  Comments (1)  

ANOTHER 40+ ACTRESS HITS THE AIR WAVES RUNNING!

Could it be? Could it possibly be?? For the second time this week a new series has begun starring, be still my heart, a wonderful actress well over 40 years old!! FX has had the intelligence to allow the multitalented Glenn Close to display those talents with a vengence. The new series DAMAGES aired last night and as far as I am concerned, tv lawyering will never be the same! Instead of the usual male hard-ass head of a legal company bent on winning at all costs, we have a female one! And her intelligence, maliciousness, scheming, and sheer ability to run the world around her with the lifting of her pinky finger is deliciously enjoyable to watch. Why would we ever go back to the ‘male way’ series are usually done?? Is she nasty? Yes. Is she dangerous? Yes. Is she evil and frightening and sure to cause horrendous things as this series wends its way thru the season? Yes. But will we be mesmerized by the sheer depth of the talent involved and smiling through it all despite our feelings of “Oh no, surely she wouldn’t do that”? Yes.
I wish her and the rest of the great cast, which includes a smarmy Ted Danson and an intelligent but naive Rose Byrne, among others, the best as they make their way thru the TV legal system this season, and I can only hope that this and the other ‘opening’ this week…Holly Hunter’s SAVING GRACE on TNT..will get such a wonderfully large audience that it will show the rest of the tv world how smart it would be to come up with more series starring…wait for it………actresses over 40!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Published in: on July 26, 2007 at 5:03 am  Comments (1)  

Thanks to MORE 40 ain’t the end…It’s just the beginning!

Need more proof that life doesn’t come to an abrupt halt after hitting 40, despite what most commercials, ads, tv shows and films try to tell us? Well check out the July/August edition of MORE MAGAZINE and you’ll get ‘more’ interesting stories of women who have made immense changes in their lives mid-life. Among them is a woman who at 48 dropped everything and started a new business that became hugely successful, one who at 40 up and quit her unfullfilling job and struck out as a writer, and one who, at 49, decided she needed to walk and lost 120 pounds, discovered she had leukemia, dealt with it with her new-found strength, and met a new man and moved from Ohio to New Mexico in a heartbeat…saying that because of that first step (literally) she realized “…that I could do whatever I wanted to do, and that I was the one holding myself back all those years.” – Wouldn’t it be great if we could ALL make that realization??

There is also an interview with the lovely Holly Hunter in this edition, talking about her new TNT series, SAVING GRACE, in which she actually gets to play a woman of her own age…49! A big pat on the back to TNT for having the good sense to develop a series whose lead character is a 49 year old Oklahoma City detective who looks and acts her age, is unattached, “..tough-talking and free-loving”. You should definately be tuning this one in!

And heres to all of us over-40 women who won’t allow the mistaken views of most of the media to hold us ‘in our place’ and tell us who and what we should be! And a gold star to MORE for ‘discovering’ us and helping spread the word!

Published in: on July 20, 2007 at 6:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

TIME TO GO TO THE MOVIES!!!

Okay, lets clear our schedules and run out to support a couple of flicks with some wonderful 40+ actresses in them! We’ll get two birds with one stone…not only will we have an enjoyable few hours watching some wonderful older actresses, but with our ticket purchases we’ll be telling the powers-that-be that these are the kind of films we really want and to keep making them, because we will support them!

“Broken English”, Zoe Cassavetes directorial debut (daughter of John Casavetes, independent film movement pioneer), opens today June 22nd. The wonderful Gena Rowlands, Zoe’s real-life mother, plays Parker Posey’s overbearing mother in this romantic comedy, continually reminding her that she’s in her thirties, and still (egad!) unattached. Also written by Zoe, the script has more than a few autobiographical touches.

Another opening weekend go-see is “Evening” which opens June 29th. This film full of great actresses over 40 explores the romantic past, along with the emotional present, of Ann Grant, played by Vanessa Redgrave (Claire Danes plays the young Ann). On her deathbed Ann remembers, and is moved to tell her daughters, the defining moments of her life. The daughters, played by Toni Collette and Vanessa’s real daughter, Natasha Richardson, will find that their mother’s greatest secret will also be her greatest gift. Other wonderful older actresses abound, Eileen Atkins and Meryl Streep among them.

Then when you get home from the movie houses, be sure and check your TV schedule, and tune in to “The Starter Wife” on USA. Based on the novel by Gigi Levangie, and starring Debra Messing and Judy Davis, among others, it follows the ex-wife of a Hollywood studio boss as she starts her post divorce life. How can any woman resist a character (Molly Kagan, played by Messing) who says, “Of course I’m cranky, I haven’t eaten in 12 years!”
And last but not least, there’s this new ‘reality’ series, “Age Of Love” on NBC, which is pitting 20-somethings against 40-somethings, as they vie against each other trying to win over the young man who has been given this quandry of choosing between them. Some of my friends hate it and find it demeaning, others are enjoying it. I personally will withhold my judgment until the young man makes his choice. If he shows his intelligence, common sense and wiseness by choosing one of the over 40s, I shall vote ‘Aye’. If, on the other hand, he shows his insensitive, coarse, shallow self by choosing one of the dime a dozen 20-somethings, I shall vehemently vote “Nay”!

Yours in Sisterhood, Judith Drake

Published in: Uncategorized on June 22, 2007 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

WOMEN LIKELY VICTIMS OF WAGE DISCRIMINATION DEADLINE

My sister sent me a cartoon depicting a pregnant woman and her husband standing before an OB/GYN. The woman asks, “Can you tell if it’s a boy or a lower wage earner?” This cartoon is very apropos for the recent 5-4 Supreme Court decision limiting the ability of workers to sue for wage discrimination. This ruling will probably have the biggest impact on women, who tend to earn less than men. The only woman on the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was quoted May 30 in Ms. Magazine from her dissenting opinion: “Women on average earn 77 cents for every man’s dollar. Women’s wages could begin at an equal level with a man’s and then decrease over time and the woman might not be aware of the discrimination until years after it began.” This discrimination frequently occurs in middle management. One can easily conclude from this that older female workers will be most profoundly affected by this decision.

The Court’s decision puts a strict timetable of 180 days to file a case after the original discriminatory act occurred. The reality of the workplace is that individual wages are not generally widely disseminated. New Mexico governor Bill Richardson stated in a press release from his campaign office, “The majority of justices on this Court are out of touch with current realities. Unequal pay is often a secret and subtle act of discrimination, and the 180-day time limit places an insurmountable burden upon those affected.” This ruling could have the effect of turning employees into amateur sleuths desperate to discover the password for the accountant’s computer to get access to pay records. It also creates mistrust: you can’t afford not to know what everyone at your pay level is earning…and know it fast.

Would the outcome of this decision have changed if our Supreme Court consisted of 8 women and 1 man? It is a bit outrageous that half the population has only one voice on the Supreme Court. During the Senate confirmation hearing for John Roberts, I was struck by a comment he made. He said that he wouldn’t let his personal opinion interfere with his interpretation of the law. Sincere though he may be, his ‘interpretation of the law’, while bound by legal opinion, must also be influenced by his world view. How could it not be??? So, if the Supreme Court has an 8 to 1 male majority, then the “world view” of half of our population is not being fairly represented/ Indeed, it’s hardly being represented at all.

Twenty some years ago Ronald Reagan said we didn’t need the ERA amendment because women’s rights were already protected by established laws. Interpreting those laws is another issue. Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in her vocal opposition to this 5-4 decision, “In our view, this court does not comprehend, or is indifferent to, the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination.” How many other court cases that profoundly affect the lives of women across this country and in all walks of life will come before this Supreme Court? I do wonder whether men in this country would be comfortable having their rights decided by a Supreme Court consisting of 8 women and 1 man. Ask around.
Jan Bina, In The Trenches Productions

Published in: on June 5, 2007 at 12:20 am  Leave a Comment