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Crone: Insult or Celebration?

Crone club badge1 copyI have recently had a very interesting discussion on goodreads (see Goodreads/Boomer Lit/monthly read/The Crone Club) with someone who said she found the title so offensive that she would never even open The Crone Club, let alone read it.  I was taken aback, not so much by her view, as by the vehemence with which she expressed it, even going so far as to state that she had asked all her friends and they had agreed with her.

I found this strong objection to the title “crone” very surprising and in the end, thought-provoking. As the book makes clear the reunited friends choose to call themselves the Crone Club. It is not a name imposed on them. Alison, the feminist member of the group, points out that ‘crone’ is a title given to the reigning goddess in ancient mythology, the other two titles being maiden and mother. The name ‘crone’ therefore celebrates the power of the feminine; it does not denigrate it. It also celebrates a special time in our lives when we are no longer at the mercy of our oestrogen levels and our increased testosterone levels are also giving us more confidence and assertiveness. We are free from many of the responsibilities and expectations of society regarding ‘correct’ and appropriate female behaviour, so we can reinvent ourselves.

It seems that some of my fellow Baby Boomers are challenged by the word “Crone.”  It is time to rescue this term from the negative connotations imposed on it by a patriarchal society. This is well beyond accepting that we are growing older.  By embracing the ‘crone’ in us we can go forth empowered, to take on all the challenges of our new lives and strive for our dreams.

Interestingly, I was recently introduced to this article, which supports and develops many of the points made above: http://wildwomansisterhood.blogspot.nl/2013/04/croning-ceremony-celebrating-wisdom-of.html#.UXpkFkoZPEz

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Snip! Snip!

In the Crone Club Jan and Jess challenge Dr Alison Green to turn her feminist doctorate thesis into a book that even they can understand. The result is Snip! Snip! which is being issued in parts on the Crone Club website. This is an excerpt from the book.

The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud asserted that girls develop penis envy and this then leads to castration anxiety in boys.
  In other words, men are living in terror that their women could be carrying a pair of scissors hidden behind their backs with intent on a certain part of their anatomy.  Of course, unless his name happens to be John Wayne Bobbit, the man is unlikely worrying about her going for the penis – from her point of view, this seems to be a bit counter-productive. However, providing the man has already served his function and fertilised the female, then what men are probably meant to be so anxious about is a sharp pain in the groin and the sound of “Snip! Snip!”
This irrational, barely acknowledged terror, that women are going to suddenly reach out with the scissors to snip away two very important objects and thereby emasculate their men, has dictated relationships between the genders for at least the last two and a half thousand years. Obviously, the castration being imagined is symbolic in nature rather than literal, but men fear a loss of their virility, or sexual dominance, particularly in the eyes of other men. Their response is to assert their masculinity in every way possible and at the same time to try to control their women.  
  This theory explains why ‘traditional men’ and many young men, unsure of their masculinity, are homophobes and intolerant to being asked to do any job, or chore, which could be regarded as ‘feminine.’ Also why they are so quick to condemn any woman, who challenges, or strays too far from ‘the box’ they would like to keep her in.
  In 1975 a British feminist film theorist called Laura Mulvey applied Freud’s theories to the study of films and their audiences. She came up with the notion of’The Male Gaze’ asserting that in films, at any rate, men objectify women, viewing them as either whores or madonnas.  Of course, once have they turned women into sexual objects, men no longer need to worry about what their wives or girlfriends might be holding behind their backs.

Lynn Schneider Books

Baby Boomer Lit: Author and Reviewer