The Other within Us: Feminist Explorations of Women and Aging

By Marilyn Pearsall | Go to book overview
Save to active project

a storm of sex and memories at once faded, bloody, and raw, like Applebroog's palette.

In performance Rosenthal the Crone is the spectacular beauty of flesh that moves, as if it is calling up the wind and called by the wind, and flesh that roars and shrieks in underground pitches and sings sanity in a lilt and a growl.

Ancient peoples believed that postmenopausal women retained their menstrual blood, called wiseblood. Wiseblood made wisewomen. While certain cultures treat menstrual blood as a defiling fluid and American slang refers to menstruation as the curse, menstrual bleeding also signifies being cleaned out, purified. American society treats old(et) women as if they suffer from the retention of blood that pollutes them: An old(er) woman is her own worst enemy. Blood is dirt, and as anthropologist Mary Douglas writes in her pollution behavior study, Purity and Danger, "Dirt is essentially disorder" and "A polluting person is always in the wrong." The aging woman is dangerous, as a polluter who is a manifestation of transitional states, which represent the undefinable. As the older woman passes from beautiful to ugly, as culturally defined, from moist to dry in menopause and skin and vaginal changes, and from womb, associated with the generative earth, to tomb, associated with earth as burial ground, she is neither one condition nor the other. The transitional person is in danger and she endangers others, but contact with danger is contact with power. The old(et) woman is a power source, whose (non)identity/excess of identities identifies and energizes human being. 38

You who go by the name old woman
Your afterbirth is the knowledge of finitude and infinity

I feel the energy in my mother's hand, which I hold now when we walk together. As in earlier years, our handholding signifies love, but the passage of years compounds the meanings of touch. She moves slowly, in the rhythm of old age, and she needs my support. I squeeze her hand to keep her from death, as we and my father tour the botanical gardens near their home, to keep her on my side of the divide between here and the Green Bay. The three of us admire the rose garden, and I read plaques that say things like: TO ED, YOUR LOVING BROTHER; WE REMEMBER MARY, A GARDENER OF THE SPIRIT -- HER FRIENDS; FOR OUR PARENTS, IN MEMORIAM, THE SYLVAN SISTERS.

O Mother and O Father, I will bury your bones with roses.


Work on this paper was supported by a Junior Faculty Research Award from the University of Nevada, Reno. I especially appreciate the travel funds that allowed me to inter


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Other within Us: Feminist Explorations of Women and Aging
Table of contents


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 280

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?