I didn't think I'd be writing about men.
My last blog was a rallying cry for heightened consciousness among women of the baby boom generation. It encouraged women "of a certain age" to stand strong against the culture's youth obsession and the marginalization of older women.
But then my husband called. He read the blog.
"I'm signing up," he said. He shared that he had left his reading glasses at home that morning, and couldn't read a document at a meeting later that day. A 20-something had to read it for him. Ouch.
And then I realized that aging is not just a feminine issue. Men also have difficulty watching time pass, seeing children leave home, losing friends to illness and death, and wondering whether they will reach their youthful goals. Graying hair, reading glasses, wrinkles and loss of libido strike men as well as women.
But women are more aware and talk more. We watch obsessively as each new wrinkle, sag and rash appear. From childbirth to menopause, from PMS to CRS, our "what's happening now?" relationship with our bodies is legendary.
Men are different. But you knew that, right?
What you probably didn't know is that age is as humbling for them as it is for us.
Men are often unprepared for the mental, physical and emotional changes of aging.
Loss of strength, stamina and self-control contribute to shame and a re-examination of what it means to be a "man" in today's culture.
Under a code of masculine invincibility and emotional repression, men tend to externalize their feelings of self-doubt. An extra glass of scotch, impatience at the office, impulsive spending, overeating, sexual indiscretions are ways many men cope.
We are all deeply ambivalent about aging. We fear getting old, but dread the alternative. Men and women can help each other by recognizing our mutual fears, talking openly about our experiences and maybe most important of all, cutting each other some much-needed slack.
Are you with me?
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