The Expanding Stellaverse
I started the Stella project to push back on the nexus of ageism and sexism by reminding society that older women live vivid, passionate lives. To do that, I encourage women past midlife to share our erotic stories. My upcoming novel, Brilliant Charming Bastard, is in line with that fun revolution. The book was a joy to write, and I’m glad to hear from the advance readers that it is fun to read too.
Yet as this project unfolds, I’m thinking even bigger. Yes, absolutely, let’s keep telling erotic stories to remind the world just how fabulous we are. I will continue interviewing women who write great stories after midlife.
I love guest blogs by women writers.
And I will keep on writing articles encouraging women to write and publish, especially women who are new at writing and experienced at life.
But we also have other fish to fry.
After spending thirty years in biotech, it’s clear to me that women’s health has gotten the back seat. And older women’s health? Don’t get me started.
My blog series on the Estradiol scam got more reaction than any other article I’ve published.
The fact that an inexpensive, off-patent cream that is essential to the health of many older women sells for hundreds of dollars a tube, even as a generic, is inexcusable. You know it and so do I.
Women of size have also been ill used, in this case by “the diet-industrial complex,” which seeks to fit all women into one size that does not fit all.
There is much more to say about women’s health, and I welcome your suggestions for topics for future health-related blogs.
It’s no news that sexism and ageism are not the only kinds of prejudice. And as Audre Lorde wrote, there is no hierarchy of oppression. It’s all horrific. But embracing justice for all people requires more than fighting for the things that affect us personally. To focus solely on the experience of age discrimination and gender discrimination misses much of the reality of American life.
The past year’s media journey into the ongoing hell of police violence has opened my eyes like never before. I’ve expanded the scope of my own writings on this subject.
But this will require a lifetime of learning, and I welcome guest blogs by women of color and others who face discrimination.
Pushing Back on “Divide and Conquer”
While justice requires that we extend our empathy beyond our own experience, it also requires us to resist the forces that divide us. I wrote about one example in a recent blog post: How corporations exploit ageism to pit the young against their elders and deflect attention from the corporate sources of climate change.
But Divide and Conquer is an old, old tale that explains everything from feudalism to populism. More to come on how we can unify to combat this age-old strategy of the powerful.
The book launch for Aphrodite’s Pen was in September 2019, just months before the pandemic began.
One minute we were celebrating our lives as older women and the next we were hearing calls to sacrifice Grandma to keep businesses open. There was also overt discussion of rationing health care to people with disabilities. And the numbers are clear: this pandemic has sickened and killed a disproportionate number of people of color and of poor people.
William Blake wrote that “joy and pain are woven fine,” and there is a time for humor in the midst of sorrow. I did write fun sexy stories about life in the pandemic. The Erotic Pandemic Ball took my mind off isolation and somber news, and I hope it accomplished that for readers too.
But there is also a time to be serious; real change calls for more than fun.
The End of Second Adolescence
I was a late bloomer who thoroughly embarrassed my children in my fifties. That’s one reason I write under a pen name. After my second divorce I engaged in a single-minded hedonism typically associated with youth. My first published erotic stories celebrated the erotic older body in graphic detail.
My recent stories are more measured. I can’t claim maturity, but my perspective has broadened.
Like the villain in my new novel, I am either a polymath or a dilettante, depending on your point of view.
I look forward to sharing more of my interests and experience on the Stella page.
The Importance of Growth and Change – The Expanding Stellaverse
The poet Donald Hall said that old age is a parade of losses. Perhaps that is true of an older age. But as I celebrate my 68th birthday, I see that our older years can be a time of expansion. In our crone years we can try new forms of creativity and support a better world for our children and grandchildren. We can launch both a fun and a serious revolution.
Look for updates on my website to reflect this wider perspective. And I welcome your input: Your suggestions for blog topics and your own guest blogs. More subjects, more voices, and more variety of approaches are all in the works. That’s why you’ll see the expanding Stellaverse.
Many thanks, Sue, for this lovely comment! Each of us is a star in this firmament, and we are each other’s sheros. Please keep the pen moving and the computer keys clicking! I’ve been reading Ruth O. Saxton’s marvelous first book (published in her eighties), “The Book of Old Ladies: Celebrating Women of a Certain Age in Fiction.” She makes the point that fiction defines for us what we see as possible. It’s not just fun but also important to celebrate the vivid lives of all people, including older women, in story. Write on!
You have been a role model for me for years, Stella — and, especially with the expanding Stellaverse, you have become one of my heros as well. I’m glad to join you both in writing for pleasure and in fighting for change!