There's a British term for the single, independent women out there growing old with style and re-defining each passing decade as they see fit: "freemales." The Telegraph recently described a subset of modern freemales in their 60s (including celebrities like Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange) who are challenging what it means to reach your sixth decade in life. These adventurous spirits are traveling, creating, and learning at a rate traditionally suited to those half their age — and hopefully inspiring plenty of copycats in the process.
When American women in their sixties came of age in the 1960's and 70's, monumental feminist battles were being fiercely fought (and sometimes won). They grew up in an era which set the bar for social and sexual equality, and despite some cultural backsliding over the past decade, we wouldn't be where we are without them.
Curious what I might find by asking women in their 60s (both single and coupled) about their experiences with sex, love, relationships and careers, I reached out to my mother and the women in her feminist community over 60 for thoughts on what freeing knowledge they had learned by their sixth decade. Here are 10 pieces of flawless feminist advice I was told that are applicable to women of any age.
1. "A man does not make you complete, you are whole and together you bring out the best in each other." - Jean, 65
2. "Be aware of your passions when you are young—the things that when you are doing them you lose all sense of time. If you can’t make a living from them, cultivate them with the intention of doing them part time until you can revel in them later in life to enrich your 60’s and 70’s and beyond." - Kathleen, 67
3. "Don’t be afraid to be off-beat, different, crazy, and follow your passion. Most of the great things in life were not made by people who played by the rules." - Dorris, 63
4. "Feelings are just messengers. They deliver a message upon which we can choose to act, or speak, or not. I have worked all my adult life to understand and act appropriately on all my emotions while using logic and acting rationally when that’s what’s called for. Both are equally necessary. Neither is exclusively the best approach all the time." - Mimi, 65
5. "If you chose a career and children in the 1970’s you had to watch that you didn’t buy into the clichés of the time, like 'it’s the quality time you spend with children that matters.' It turns out the quantity of the time you spend with them also matters." - Judy, 62
6. "Self-acceptance is the key to all happiness. Love yourself with all your flaws and work toward being the person you would want to be in a partnership with." - Susan, 65
7. "When you leave home make a list of everything in your upbringing that didn’t work for you, made you feel less than, frustrated you, let you down. Knock the list off one at a time and re-create yourself." - Kate, 67
8. "Do not make important decisions while horizontal." - Ava, 68
9. "Define marriage and partnerships on your own terms, not based on what a marriage or partnership SHOULD be according to others. It only matters that you and your partner are on the same page. Renegotiate when necessary." - Linda, 69
10. "Make those who make you feel precious into your family, biological or not." - Teresa, 66
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