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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Sudha Menon On Ageism, Inclusion Of Women Over 50 In #MeTooIndia, And Being ‘Feisty At Fifty’

  • IWB Post
  •  September 4, 2019

While they say age is just a number, one is left wondering about the amount of actual truth in that idiom. Because going by the looks of it, age seems more like the expiry date, inscribed clumsily on the neck of a jam bottle, that renders it useless way before it actually goes bad.

In a recent Twitter chat with writer Sudha Menon, we discussed her latest book Feisty At Fifty and the real implications of age and what it really means to be a woman over 50 years of age. She also talked about the stereotyped image of women of 50+ age and said, “The stereotype is what we see in films and ads – sad-faced women waiting for sons or daughters to call from distant lands. Or looking after grandchildren or sitting in nana-nani parks. In I say the 50s can be frolicking, fun, and fabulous.”

Here are excerpts from our expansive dialogue:

On ageism and the barriers women face in India on hitting the fabulous fifty


Indian Women Blog on Twitter

Opening our chat, what are the speed breakers/barriers women face in India on hitting the fabulous fifty? @sudhamenon2006 #feistyatfifty

Sudha Menon on Twitter

@indianwomenblog The biggest speed breaker is ageism and the stereotype that women over fifty are over the hill. Many women have internalized this and have given up on life

Sudha Menon on Twitter

@indianwomenblog No. I don’t think so. Ageism is everwhere you look. It is a modern-day scourge. And it affects men and women. We live in a society where, if we allow it, people in their fifties plus will soon become faceless and invisible.

Sudha Menon on Twitter

@indianwomenblog The stereorype is what we see in films and ads- sad faced women waiting for sons or daughters to call from distant lands. Or looking after grand children or sitting in nana- nani parks. In #FeistyAtFifty I saythe fifties can be frolicky, fun and fabulous.

On how women in their 50s can navigate their sexual desires

Sudha Menon on Twitter

By first rejecting socially imposed norms and expectations. Fifty year olds have sex you know. Lots of it.Acknowledge that. Or, if you are not into it, be comfortable with that too. Your body, your choice!

On what it means to be a single woman in her fifties

Sudha Menon on Twitter

I think a single woman in her fifties, in cities is much better placed than before. She probably has a career, her own money and able to make choices and decisions about her life. Not sure this is true for women in smaller towns and villages.

Sudha Menon on Twitter

My 70 yr old aunt chose to remain single and is now having the time of her life roaming the country and dropoing anchor wherever she pleases. Your life, your body, your choice.

Sudha Menon on Twitter

@indianwomenblog It should’nt but unfortunately, it does. For almost a decade I stopped socializing after my first marriage ended. I could not bear the judgement and intrusive questioning by random strangers. The year I hit fifty, I realized it does not matter. I no longer care.


On the issues of mental health and stigma that come with the age

Sudha Menon on Twitter

By forming close bonds with family and friends, talking to them about your concerns and seeking medical help. Mental illness is an ailment of the mind and no need to fear stigma. To ignore mental illness can be disastrous. Reach out for help at the earliest.

On the visibility of women of 50+ age in government and politics

Sudha Menon on Twitter

We have high visibility 50 olus female politicians including Sonia Gandhi, Sushma Swaraj, Nirmala Sitharaman, Mamata Banerjee, Sheika Dikshit, Mayawati, Maneka Gandhi. But they have poor influence in shaping a more women friendly policies.

Sudha Menon on Twitter

If our female politicians had more influence in shaping policy, Indian women would find it a better country to live in. We would not be facing the horrifying things we face on a daily basis.

Sudha Menon on Twitter

To begin with put more women in parliament, press for stepping up female representation in politics, in the corporate world and everywhere women don’t find representation. Take punitive action where rules regarding female representation is not followed.

On how inclusive has #MeTooIndia been for women of mature age

Sudha Menon on Twitter

I think #MeTooIndia has been very inclusive. Some of the women who have called out their harassers are my contemporaries in journalism and in their fifties. Just an hour ago I read about a young male actor who has called out his sexual harrasser in the film industry.

Sudha Menon on Twitter

Not really. But I must confess that as the mother of a young woman I find myself distressed beyond measure at the shocking stories that are coming out of men in power abusing them at workplaces.

On how one can stay in tune or in the loop with the younger generation about issues like sex, relationships, marriage, etc.

Sudha Menon on Twitter

Keep the company of young people, learn to comnunicate with them on their terms, get tech savvy and keep communication channels open with your children. Don’t judge them, dont make things taboo and tell them you are always there for them .




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