Celebrating the WOW Online Community

Today marks my 100th posting since launching WOW in August 2015.

WOW came about when, looking for resources for my course “Women and Aging,” I goggled “blogs for older women.” To my dismay the vast majority consisted of advice on how to dress younger, lure a man, up your sex drive, cosmetic surgery and the like. In other words, how not to get old!

But times are changing. Our culture’s ageism and sexism is meeting resistance. Older women are defying ageist stereotypes as they continue to be creative and engaged in meaningful activity through their ’80’s and ’90’s.

Rather than feeling ashamed about aging, women are demanding respect for their wisdom and life experiences. At times this can be a lonely battle. Older women need support and affirmation. I started WOW to help fill this vacuum.

Two bad ass older women defying the culture’s ageism and sexism

Wanting a place to expand on the WOW blog’s conversation, I founded the WOW Facebook community, which now has 250 members. The WOW page brims with vitality as women post about politics, women newsmakers, the arts, personal stories, and inspirational messages. Members share and receive support for their struggles like living alone or waiting out a medical test result. We are a true virtual community!

For this 100th post, I’m honoring members of the WOW Facebook community by sharing some favorite postings.

Dixie, representative of the politically engaged WOW FB member

Popular postings include women overlooked by history. I was particularly touched by the story of the Granny Midwives. These were black women who delivered poor and rural women’s babies in the South long before doctors came on the scene.

Notable among the women sidelined by history is Victoria Clagin Woodhull who in 1872 became the first woman to run for president on the Equal Rights Party.

I love the 1920’s story of five hearty Manhattan explorer women who wanted to expand their travel adventures. After being denied membership in the men-only explorer’s club, they formed a women’s explorer’s club. Led by Marguerite Harrison they traveled to far-flung global spots. Reading about our bold foremothers ignites us to be all that we can be.

News-making contemporary older women regularly pop up on the WOW page. There’s Lee Sharkey of Portland, Maine who recently won an international prize for a poem about her husband’s dementia.

Another recent posting featured Brenda Milner, a distinguished brain scientist, who’s still conducting research at age 98! (There’s no shortage of inspiring role models here.)

Stories of older women activists are honored, like the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo who stage weekly protests for the missing children stolen in 1977 during Argentina’s military dictatorship.A few weeks ago the WOW page was buzzing with outrage over the arrest of the Codepink protester, Desiree Fairooz, charged with laughing at Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a Senate hearing.

Daily there are inspirational quotes that often come from members who practice yoga and meditation.

A typical WOW FB inspirational post

To my delight I have found that almost every aspect of the older woman’s life is reflected on the WOW page. Women share images of their artwork, books they’ve published, favorite reads, and links to their own blogs. Humorous postings are a constant. We recognize that laughter is essential to taking the edge off everyday struggles.

I’m grateful for the postings about older women who continue to smash the aging barrier, like the Manhattan dance troupe whose youngest member is 66, or the Northampton, Mass. “Young @Heart chorus” open only to those 73 and older.

Members celebrate their life-earned wisdom for which we are all grateful. Here are two excerpts:

“The wonderful thing about culture is that it holds only until you break free . . . . I honor this stage in my life . . . which allows me to share freely that which I’ve learned and am learning.”

“Now I sing, “Free at last! Great Goddess, Free at last!” I am now the wise woman I thought I was and am still learning.”

A WOW FB member celebrating her age and life experience

Finally, a shout out to WOW Facebook members and guest bloggers: Janet Weil and Lisa Savage who both wrote about going grey; Walker Thornton on rekindling sexual desire; Zoe FitzGerald-Beckett on women’s sacred circles; Elaine McGillicuddy on adjusting to life as a widow; and Gwen McCauley on the importance of play.

Please check out the WOW Facebook page, if you’re not familiar with it. Stay tuned. We’re just getting started!

This post originally appeared on WOW blog on March 24, 2017.