New feature: ‘Who is interested in old women?’

// 12 October 2011

Rina Rosselson describes the journey that took her from getting an MA in film and television in 1998 to blogging about old women and films at 74

It is through films that I became aware of the all-pervasive toxic combination of ageism and sexism in our visual culture. I had always loved the cinema and on my retirement 17 years ago I decided to study for an MA in film and television at the University of Westminster. I wanted to understand why, both in my teens and as I entered my 60s, I felt so at odds with film critics.

Screenshot from Le Chat, showing an older woman in the foreground smoking a cigar, and an older man in the background petting a cat

For my MA dissertation I chose to study Pierre Granier-Deferre’s 1971 Le Chat, a film featuring Simone Signoret and Jean Gabin as an old couple ageing very badly. To my surprise, doing my literature research I found that within an extensive body of feminist work on the cinema there was next to nothing on the older or old woman. In the few mentions available, ‘post-menopausal’ was the expression of choice to describe women my age – a term that offended me deeply.

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Comments From You

Katherine // Posted 13 October 2011 at 1:41 pm

What a great post! I studied tv and film at school, and work in media now; I’ve read very little about the stereotyping in the (rare) roles for older women – this is a great start. Also, the subject would’ve made a fantastic thesis – media and film analysis needs attention drawn to the perpetuation of stereotypes, especially those that remain under the radar.

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