Combating Invisibility: Older Women Stereotypes Revised
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This essay discusses the difference between television and literary portrayals of middle-aged and older women in the last 30 years of the 20th century. TV writers rarely included older women in programming, and when they did, the older women were often characterized as useless, undesirable, and passive. The popular and critically acclaimed novels, Song of Solomon and Paradise, by Toni Morrison, and The Weight of Water and The Pilot’s Wife, by Anita Shreve, revise the TV stereotypes, creating central, vital, and complex older female characters. These novels illuminate that a mother is to the family what a shaman is to his or her community. The methods are different, but their goals to preserve their tribe or family and their functions as healer and storyteller are the same. The authors’ expansion of the older women stereotypes creates a new paradigm for measuring the value of older women.