Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Barbara Walters Special: Elderly Women Will Turn Lesbian

Okay, there was a Barbara Walters special on longevity one night early in April 2008. Most of the show was fairly superficial, going into the expected stuff such as cryogenics [freezing bodies until such a time as a cure for whatever killed you is found, at which point you'll be defrosted. Aside from the simple fact that everyone you know may be dead and your money long since spent by the people you left it to, there is the simple problem that -- even if they've found the cure for cancer or heart disease -- you're still dead. Nobody ever talks about keeping you frozen until a method is found to, like, resuscitate corpses.]

But I digress. Late in the program, Baba Waba introduces us to a man named Stephen J. Dubner, author of a book called "Freakonomics." This man, an ABC news correspondent and expert on economics, apparently fancies himself an expert on (homo)sexuality as well. Talking with Barbara about the effects of people living longer, resulting in there being a larger elderly population in the U.S., Dubner says that it may decrease prejudice against the elderly. But one problem, he says, is that women generally outlive men, including their husbands (although one would imagine all of these life-lengthening treatments might correct that disparity) so there will be a dearth of older men for the widows and other elderly ladies to have relationships with. Therefore, according to "Dubner and Dumber," there will be much "elderly lesbianism" in the future.


I sent Dubner the following email:

Re. your comments on the Barbara Walters special earlier tonight (that since women generally outlive men, there will be a shortage of men in the golden years and therefore there will be a lot of "elderly lesbianism.") What on earth what you were thinking?

Now if you were saying that some elderly women who have been closeted lesbians or bisexuals throughout their lives will come out of the closet in old age, it might have made some sense. But to suggest that old women will simply turn homo because there aren't enough older men around makes no sense whatsoever (what about younger men, for Pete's sake?).Same-sex episodes (or rapes) among straight men I can understand in prisons. But somehow I can't see women who have been legitimately straight all their lives suddenly going gay as if it were something you could turn on and off like a switch. When I think of the long struggle it can be for many people to accept themselves, and how being gay is about so much more than sex, and how it's not a "lifestyle" but a life, it's ridiculous for you to reduce it to "not enough men around -- just go lesbian."

A lot of progress has been made by gay rights over the years, but comments like yours make me realize we've still got a hell of a long way to go when it comes to being understood.

With all due respect stick to economics and leave the comments on (homo) sexuality to others, okay?

To date I've received no reply.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Barbara Walter's life was influenced greatly by her older sister and she's written a beautiful memoir about her life. I read another memoir of a life influence by a sibling that I recommend highly - I actually liked it even more. The memoir is ""My Stroke of Insight"" by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Dr Taylor became a Harvard brain scientist to find the cause and cure for schizophrenia because her older brother was a sufferer. Then, crazy as life can be, Dr. Taylor had a stroke at age 37. What was amazing was that her left brain was shut down by the stroke - where language and thinking occur - but her right brain was fully functioning. She experienced bliss and nirvana and the way she writes about it (or talks about it in her now famous TED talk) is incredible.

What I took away from Dr. Taylor's book above all, and why I recommend it so highly, is that you don't have to have a stroke or take drugs to find the deep inner peace that she talks about. Her book explains how. ""I want what she's having"", and thanks to this wonderful book, I can!