Thursday, 8 June 2006

With women like these…

I couldn’t believe my ears the other day: I was happily listening to a short story on BBC Radio 4, when I heard something that made me jump: something I’m used to reading from time to time on the message board I belong to. That moronic comment about old ladies’ smell. The latest one read, “X on me smells like an old lady. You know those elderly women who don't bathe for days?”

Well, I don’t, actually. When I think of a bad body odour, I think mostly of men who are too macho to use antiperspirant, for instance, not of women – old or young.

A woman wrote that otherwise good short story; a woman posted that idiotic, offensive comment. There are lots of things that annoy me, but one thing that annoys – and distresses – me more than any other is when women are being misogynistic. Some women internalise men’s clichéd opinions of them and spout them out without stopping to think about what they’re actually saying. They're the ones who usually proclaim loudly that they're not feminists. I believe such women are trying – subconsciously maybe – to suck up to men. Silly, short-sighted and misguided!



  1. They're definitely trying to suck up to men. I see this with college students all the time. They fear being accused of man-hating. IMO, you could be accused of a lot worse. As my colleague Maria says, "What's wrong with hating men?" ;-)

    The "old lady smell" notion is a mystery to me. My schema of the scent of old ladies is dry, powdery, and sweet-smelling, without the sweaty hormonal reek of youth. It's still a stereotype, yes, but a more flattering one. On MUA, people usually use it to refer to women who wear scents that were popular 30 or more years ago, which means that Clinique Happy will smell "old lady" in another 20 years. Hah.

  2. You are right about female misogyny. I am certainly guilty of it. But the fact that I recognise these traits in myself, and go some way to try to understand how they develop, is a step in the right direction, non?

    But some women give women a bad name, and within a phallocentric society they (being 'other' to male members) will stand as defining icons of Women and what women are.

    Although I have read a theory about 'old women smell', regarding poor breakdown of internal toxins causing toilet odours to leave through the skin. But surely such a condition is sexless.

    And smell is all fashion so it's stupid to label. My mother adores patchouli which makes me gag. I'm prepared to admit my 5th avenue might not be to everyone's taste, however classy and refined it seems to me!

  3. They're going to get old too, and sooner than they think. And imagine their horror!

  4. I think that you've got the sucking up to men part dead on. I think that there may be other factors involved.

    Just musing, but maybe the women in question wants to be thought of as Hot,Sexy, Young (and whatever that may mean to them or society). God forbid someone might think they are...OLD or... Not That Young. Don't want to imagine what will happen to these women when they actually get...OLD.

    As far as the "old lady smell". Hmmm...Honestly, I think that sometimes (some) older women's sometimes stick with fragrances from their youth. It may have been something they wore beautifully in their "Belle Of The Ball" Years. Lovely smelling in it's time, but perhaps it no longer smells the same (as good) on them. Or sometimes the olfactory glands are not as working well, and Some (not all) older women spray too much of something that may otherwise smell delightful on them.

    Um, I've been guilty of doing the latter myself and my olfactory glands are working fine :-) Also, shhh ;- I like some perfumes with powdery drydowns and some old fashioned perfumes. Some of them are Classic Beautys. Just really well made perfumes.Where does age enter into this?

    I agree, there will come a time when Grandma "Tiffany- Brittany- Amber's" ;-) Happy, Glow, Fantasy, considered to be that "Old Lady Stuff" There Will Be Poetic Justice. I promise ;-)

  5. Oh, yes. The very best response to "old lady" remarks is YOU WILL BE HUMBLED. :-D We all get old, god willing.

  6. Sorry, folks, been very busy.

    WW, if confronted, those women would absolutely deny that’s what they were doing. It becomes second nature to them and they don’t see it at all. God forbid one shouldn’t be nice to men at all times! The way men are to women, eh?! By actually mentioning body odour, the person who wrote the post I quoted went further than the usual ‘musty smell’ simile.

    All those vanilla-laden fragrances of today will smell absolutely disgusting and old-fashioned to the next generation. Wonder what the next trendy note will be...

    JvS, being aware is being halfway there. :-)

    Some women do give women a bad name (and I for one will keep slapping them), but automatically falling back on clichés is lazy and unfair.

    Since, as you say, the toxins thing must affect men as well as women, why don’t we start talking about ‘old man’s crotch smell’ instead? That should restore the balance. LOL!

    Some people take perfume very seriously. I’m supposed to be one of them. Hmm… It’s all subjective, anyway. Wear whatever you like!

    L, yes, indeed. We start to fall apart around the age of 42-43, apparently. You can always tell the kiddies on that board. Although, I had a tiff about the old-lady smell comment with someone who should have known better and who’s become a dear friend since. She admitted she'd said it without thinking. Ha!

    T, I believe sucking up to men is what some women spend their entire life doing.

    Obviously, perfume should be applied with a light hand – by everyone. I am daily assaulted by horrible modern stuff in the street, in shops, everywhere. When I look for the culprit, it’s usually some young girl with a naked belly sticking out of too-tight jeans, so I’d say using too much perfume is not the preserve of old ladies.

    Young people don’t like anything that’s being used/done/read/listened to by older people; that’s the one thing they have in common. I remember it well. LOL! So the classics don’t have a chance, in any field.

    FTR, I will try that response next time someone else is being stupid in that way (it won’t be long, I’m sure). Thanks. :-)

  7. I have thoroughly dealt with this topic, as you know *grin* Misogyny or ageism? Not very attractive when put forth by individuals one hopes are otherwise intelligent women. Self-hatred takes many forms ... how sad that we still seem to take in so much garbage the culture foists on us. Sad. xoxo

  8. Indeed you have, M, and very well too. I’m constantly stunned by the extent to which some women will go to ingratiate themselves with men. And yes it’s worse when it’s supposedly intelligent women.

    Thanks for your support, J. :-)


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