Hate being middle aged

DRAMAQUEENS You are dependent. You lose your job. They hate each other. Women see their “best years” as their worst. A book wants the revolution

"But I see my previous head, which was attacked by an epidemic from which I will no longer recover"

Simone de Beauvoir


It's a female drama. When women have built their life concept on a long love with some children. Having given up a lot for the family. Have made themselves dependent on the income of the man. And then, around the age of 50, get quit. The relationship market for women “in their prime” is tight. You are difficult to place, men often look for younger partners: getting older is not for cowards. Bascha Mika, journalist and former editor-in-chief of the taz, has written an encouragement book. A beneficial political one. What does this society do with the aging of women? Mika's thesis: She turns it into a drama.

Which of course has already been described. Becoming invisible, having no more cuts in the nasty relationship market, no sex and menopause - all illuminated and problematized. Still, you can still write a book about it. Because: There has been no real revolt against these stupid double standards that have been applied to men and women for centuries.

Bascha Mika demands nothing less than a rebuilding of the women's movement at an advanced age. In a pleasant contrast to her book "Die Feigheit der Frauen" (The Cowardice of Women), this time Mika separates the individual and social levels more clearly and no longer throws women back on their personal struggles. On the contrary, how society creates the age of women - "doing aging" - is the main point of attack this time. Because women can change little about their age - even if they themselves have a part in how old age is viewed: They, too, adopt the norms of society to a greater or lesser extent.

But you can't blame them for their collective social disappearance from a certain age. It is too clear how television bosses are pushing for a "rejuvenation" of the show, the presenter of which has just turned 50. The others feel this and prefer to leave before they are shot. And the decision to have a lift? Completely self-determined - and yet in dire need, because you absolutely want to win another ten years of "being seen". "With a few exceptions, women lose a piece of their dignity with every decade of life," says Lisa Ortgies, presenter of the FrauTV program on Westdeutscher Rundfunk. And this observation usually remains a taboo, as moderator Luzia Braun explains: “As a woman, you cannot address this disparagement without becoming a victim yourself.” A killer substitute.

If you can't even talk about the subject, what can you do? If emancipation promised the younger women better relationships and a more relaxed family life, one asks some emancipatory luminaries like Simone de Beauvoir why she didn't even shut up in this case: “The people I meet may only see one Fifty-year-old who is neither well nor badly preserved. But I see my previous head, which was attacked by an epidemic from which I will no longer recover. ”This is what self-hatred sounds like.

Bascha Mika describes the arduous departure from the currency Attention, on which many women have built their self-image. To be out of the question as a partner for a lot of men - for many it seems like a social murder. The fear of losing their social position in the event of losing their partner drives middle-aged women to put up with a great deal of life insurance, the man. If the partner also disappears, it often means that women have to say goodbye to everything that previously made up their identity. Mika confirms the thesis of the Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz: “The heterosexual women of the middle class are therefore in the strange historical position of being able to dispose of their bodies and their feelings more sovereignly than ever before and yet in a new and unprecedented way from men to be dominated. "

Illouz means the fundamental gender difference that the man can found a second family, while the woman - yes, what does she do after menopause? A lot of beautiful things, one might think, but socially the word private happiness seems to be inextricably linked to a life full of privation with small, screaming monsters.

Old age has always been a woman, an old woman without teeth and with dried up breasts, says Mika's little excursus on art history. In the fountain of youth by the painter Lukas Cranach, for example, only women had to climb, men didn't have to. The beauty industry later played its role as well: Beauty has long ceased to be the beautiful soul that slowly peeled off its leaves, no, it only consists of the outside. An alienated body feeling from youth on is the result.

Ultimately, the double age standard for men and women depends on a social power imbalance. Why is a woman dependent on a man's affection? Because she supposedly needs him. However, the divorce figures, which are increasing in line with women's economic independence, show that if she no longer needs it economically, the superstructure will also change.

Economic independence, no long baby breaks, men in their upbringing, more equality when combining work and family - Mika derives solid political demands from her findings. But she also advocates social change. She, who likes it loud, calls it "revolution". Why is nobody talking about how society “creates” aging? Why is it normal in England and the USA to legally prosecute age discrimination - but hardly in Germany? Bascha Mika had a good nose: In the age of aging baby boomers and emanciers, there was no debate about discrimination against aging women.

Only marginally, however, occurs to her that many women take for granted today: a single life with a large group of friends and without a partner. This life plan seems alien to her. Only two lesbians tell her how nice it is to live without appraising male looks. More and more women are getting the taste for making themselves beautiful without a man. Often it is those who have painfully freed themselves from male recognition. It's a shame that Mika largely overlooks her. Because precisely these women could form something like their revolutionary subject.

■ Bascha Mika: “Test of courage. Women and the hellish game of getting older ”. C. Bertelsmann, 320 pages, 17.99 euros