The other day, a guy rode up behind me on his bicycle. As soon as I heard him say something I quickly looked down. It's not a regular holla-back when you know you look much older from the front then behind. And I got a good behind! But the long hair fools them. I don't dress in anything resembling sexy, so it's not like I'm trying to look young and hot. Clean is good enough. So why should I be defensive when I walk the city streets? Why do I feel the need to have a sign on my back saying "Off the Market?"
I ain't young. And I ain't on the market.
As far as I know, there is no way to advertise your lack of desirability in this sexualized culture. So what is a woman of a certain age to do? How do you put out the signal that you're no longer interested in being sexually appraised? That you never wanted to be is irrelevant and we learn that through our awkward bulimic teenage years, when we suffered in order to please. We wore platform heels, and spent time on our ever changing hair; including our politicized body hair. But we don't cut our hair upon marriage; or demarcate our sexual status via head dress or ink here.
We need a symbol celebrating our freedom. I have it.
Women of all ages are still hostage to the male gaze. You can't put a sign on your back saying "NOT FOR SALE." or "INVISIBLE", although one can just wait for that to happen naturally. We have earned the right to walk the streets with our heads held high, and not fear the catcall. To wear comfortable shoes regardless of our sexuality. We have earned this freedom from sex, and I want to tell the world I'm done!
I keep healthy for my heart and my life; and how I look is my business. If young guys find me attractive, I don't mind, but I don't want to be in that Venn Diagram between women who are trying too hard to be Madonna attractive; the degrading cougar caricature, and the woman who has given up. I am no longer fertile. I can no longer have babies. Nor do I have the desire. Even if I did, I don't want my female body to be seen as a commodity anymore. Hooking-up culture offends my feminist sensibilities, so I am proud to call myself "Unhooked." Free. But I needed a way to advertise my new status to the world
That is why I wear my I.U.D. on the outside.
I wear my I.U.D. as a necklace.
(You can buy it on a t shirt.) You can't see it from behind, but it announces to the world that I'm off the market. This symbol says what I don't have time to answer. No. Don't bother. Don't come knockin boots. Don't judge me by "how well I'm aging." I know, we shouldn't have to advertise our sexuality; be it preference or cis, gen etc... but it is one of the masks we wear. Wedding rings never stopped men from flirting with me, and although I love a healthy banter with any intelligent folk; male, female, kid, I don't want to imply that I am on the market for a moment longer.
I am unhooked.
I am free!
This symbol is the first feminist icon in a long while. It represents our untethering from the objectification and judgement of our sexualized, patriarchal culture. As women, we deserve to feel good about getting this far.
Or, I suppose, the end of a period.
And since this culture doesn't have a way for a modern feminist to keep her heart healthy and avoid awkward encounters, I am announcing the introduction of the I.U.D. as a brand. You needn't have used one; or even be close to my age to wear one; this is a universal symbol; a stop sign.
You are off the hook.
Enjoy this as a symbol of this powerful time in a woman's life. You deserve it.
(Coming soon to a website near you.)