Hard Candy: What makes old ladies so crabby, according to crabby antifeminist Sunshine Mary? (Hint: It’s feminism.)

Just thought I'd give Sunshine Mary a heart attack with this.

Just thought I’d give Sunshine Mary a heart attack with this.

Have you ever wondered what makes crabby old ladies crabby? Maybe they’re having a bad day? Maybe younger people are being rude to them and they’re speaking up for themselves? Maybe they’ve always been crabby? Maybe they’ve lived a long life and don’t give a shit what people think of them any more?

According to Sunshine Mary — “Christian, wife, mother, and anti-feminist” — the real problem is feminism.

And she’s got proof!

In a blog post today titled The coarsening effect of feminism on elderly women she tells the horrifying story of how she personally witnessed some crankiness from an old lady while she was innocently going about her business shopping for groceries and silently judging other people:

As I approached the milk cooler, I observed an elderly woman, probably in her late seventies, and her husband, who was probably around eighty.  The woman was wearing brown pants that appeared to be Carhartts and rainbow colored sneakers; she looked ridiculous.  I have been noticing lately that even elderly women’s appearance has worsened; they often wear their hair in short, mannish styles, as opposed to the short but feminine style that elderly women used to wear, and they seem to be wearing men’s clothing now.

Ok, so far the only crabby person here seems to be Sunshine Mary herself, working herself into a lather over an elderly woman’s short hair and rainbow-colored sneakers.

But wait! Sunshine Mary continues with her tale of terror in the dairy aisle:

As I stood patiently nearby waiting to access the milk cooler, I eavesdropped on the elderly couple’s conversation.  I didn’t hear what the man had said, but the old woman was responding harshly with a nasty look on her face as she complained, “I want it, and I am going to get it.  I need to because you don’t take me shopping enough!”  They shuffled off down the aisle, she still crabbing and he pushing the cart silently.


Sunshine Mary wonders what kind of world could create crabby old ladies like this:

I thought about her unfeminine appearance and harsh behavior and also recalled …  an article about how elderly women are divorcing and engaging in online dating and casual sex, resulting in a sharp increase in sexually transmitted diseases among the elderly, and I wondered…What has happened to our older women?  Why have they become so unfeminine?  Why do they revel in exhibiting coarse behavior and using foul language?

Elderly women didn’t use to be like this.

Huh. I’s sort of stuck on the sexually transmitted diseases thing, because unless all these old ladies have become lesbians — and I’m pretty sure Sunshine Mary would have said something about that if that were the case — then these evil sex-having, STD-spreading old ladies are having sex with, and spreading STDs with, sex-having, STD-spreading men. So why is it that the ladies are the ones getting all the blame?

Also, how did we get from cranky old ladies in the dairy aisle to sexy old ladies having sex?

Anyway, as proof that old ladies used to be nothing but sugar and spice, Sunshine Mary posts a picture of her grandmother in 1974, and she does indeed seem to be a very nice granny. Apparently she never swore or talked about sex, at least not in the vicinity of Sunshine Mary.

And apparently Sunshine Mary’s great-grandmother was a very nice lady as well — even though she worked outside the home!

So why are the old ladies of today such evil, crabby, yogurt-demanding monsters?

Oh, yeah, that’s right: feminism.

The women who are in their seventies now would have been young women when second wave feminism took off in the early 1970s, and it shows.   There are exceptions, of course, but in general they are far more coarse and unfeminine than the previous generation, and this is almost certainly due to the influence of feminism. …

Feminism was supposed to empower women, but instead it has turned all women into mere sex objects; all they bring of worth now is their sexuality, and when their youth fades, they have nothing left of value to offer.

Uh, since when has feminism been all about turning women into nothing but sex objects?

This is why we see old women either pathetically trying to look like a caricature of a young, sexy woman or just giving up and looking like old men.  If you have nothing beyond your sexuality to offer, if you have built no lasting family, if you have chucked your husband and devoted most of your life to a career, then you end up with no feminine dignity for anyone to celebrate.

Yeah, it’s not like having an interesting and/or accomplished life is worth celebrating.

We women who are not yet elderly need to think about this and consider our own conduct, language, and appearance.  What kind of elderly women do we hope to be someday?  The type who are desperately clinging to the hope that they are sexxxxay and hip in their dotage, looking and behaving just as crass as the younger women?

Sorry to break it to you, Sunshine, but when people live longer lives, their sex lives last longer as well. I don’t know if you realize this, but people you think are too old, or too unattractive, or too whatever to be having sex … are having sex all the time. That couple you saw in the grocery store may have had sex for three hours as soon as they got home. They may have even worked the yogurt into it.

I know that I don’t want to be that way.  I hope that I will be more like my grandmother and great-grandmother – a dignified, feminine, woman who is both respectable and respected, who takes care of her family and does not embarrass them with outrageously coarse behavior.

Don’t worry, Sunshine. You’re already plenty embarrassing.

About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon, Time.com, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on September 19, 2013, in a woman is always to blame, antifeminism, disgusting women, evil old ladies, evil sexy ladies, ladies against women, misogyny, MRA and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 251 Comments.

  1. RE: pillowinhell

    I’d assume the latter, especially if they lived in a cold climate. Taking off ALL THE SKIRTS in freaking winter would be AWFUL.

  2. It was so you could use the bathroom without getting all undressed, given that elastic didn’t exist yet and fiddling with a drawstring under a corset is really difficult. It was also thought to be healthier for women to have some air circulation.

    I don’t know when precisely men started wearing modern-ish underwear. I think Western men were mostly wearing what we’d think of as long underwear by the 1850’s, but in the Regency era, you just sort of tuck your long shirt under your business, in between you and your breeches, since they were easier to wash.

  3. There’s a really great book on all of this by Jill Fields:


    The first chapter is all about the culture war in the early 20’s over closed vs. non-closed drawers. It was apparently something to be VERY UPSET about for a while, and now we’ve all totally forgotten about it.

    It made me finally understand why the Can-Can was so shocking, though, since you were seeing a whole lot more than ruffled knickers.

  4. I think Western men were mostly wearing what we’d think of as long underwear by the 1850′s

    After a quick browse on Wikipedia:

    The union suit (combinations or woolly coms in Britain) is a one-piece garment that was apparently worn from the middle of the 19th Century into the middle of the 20th Century. It has an amusing flap over the seat.

    “Long johns,” the two-piece style, apparently dates from 1915.

    Y-fronts date from 1935, boxers from 1925.

    Maidenform was founded in 1928, and introduced the modern bra (which, among other uses, is useful as trollphylactic). The garter belt was designed in the 20s because flappers’ stockings kept falling down as a result of their energetic dancing.

    Everything else modern about women’s underthings apparently dates from after WW2, or was adopted from older forms.

  5. It made me finally understand why the Can-Can was so shocking, though, since you were seeing a whole lot more than ruffled knickers.

    I hadn’t thought about that.

  6. Linen underdrawers for men have been around since medieval times at least, and most likely earlier, though I can’t recall offhand. They weren’t tight, but tucked into the top of the hose, under the tunic. Button-fronted shorts very much like boxers were around at least by the seventeenth century.

  7. Interesting! Maybe they went in and out of fashion, like so many other things?

  8. That’d be my bet! There always has to be some sort of washable underwear when clothes are basically unwashable (at least among the classes where fashion is a thing), but its form is going to vary.

  9. The idea of clothes that you can’t wash makes me feel so ill.

  10. Having once worn a dress very much like this for a performance http://www.wornthrough.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/getimageasp.jpeg I fully understand the need for crotchless undies.

    The damn thing was wider than the stalls in the loos. Fortunately the structure was made of modern flexible stuff so you could sort of fold it around you a bit to get through the door because there wasn’t enough room to turn sideways as you could for all the other doors. But it was extremely extremely awkward to get the business done.

  11. At least some of the 18th century panniers like that were made to fold up, I think, though that would still be tricky to deal with. Not that anyone wearing them then would have toilet stalls to deal with. I’m not sure women were wearing undies of any sort at that period, apart from when they were riding.

    Dealing with a cage crinoline would be even worse, I think. They had some flexibility but that’s still a whole circle around you, no narrow front and back. Even when it changed shape and flattened at the front in the 1860s, it was very wide and even longer at the back.

    Mind you the dresses that seem the worst to me are the really narrow ones of the late 1870s. How the hell did anyone manage dunnying with those on?

  12. Can you imagine walking through a modern day door with that? I can’t, I keep imagining myself getting stuck. *winces*

  13. Even the big doors in 18th century palaces could be a problem with the really huge panniers. Though again, at least they’d flattened out fore and aft by this time; it was even worse earlier with the dome dresses. Still, panniers like this would have made formal occasions a pain.

  14. This court mantua from the 1740s always takes the prize as a seriously ugly dress, for me. Such beautiful fabric, such amazing silver-gilt embroidery, and it’s on a dress that has NO DRAPING and looks like a fucking sofa back.

  15. Ouch!

    At least the wide skirts of the 18th and 19th century had that going for them: they made the waist look smaller, so one didn’t have to lace so tightly. Plus, they were lightweight. That was actually one of the hazards, whether cane hoops in the 1700s or whalebone/sprung steel ones in the 1800s: they were so light they could catch the wind all too easily.

    I remember reading once how a woman asked her mother (or grandmother? Older member of her family, anyway) how she managed with crinolines, and the answer was that they were SO COMFORTABLE. They were light, they held the skirt out, and you didn’t need tons of petticoats under them. Cooler in summer and your legs could move. Considering how incredibly restrictive dresses became in the 1870s and 80s (heavy petticoats, masses of decoration, bustles and corsets that got progressively tighter and longer), it’s no wonder a woman who’d been through all those fashions might look back to the crinoline with nostalgia.

  16. I heard that women could be blown away from the wind with crinolines I think. I believe I can fly… I believe I can touch the sky… My dress and I will go so high…😛

    But man, women who had to wear all of those petticoats and extremely tight corsets must have been much tougher than me. Or they had more practice.

  17. Wait, skirts now don’t still fly up? Cuz today’s wind gusts were knocking over potted plants and reminiscent of Monroe’s skirt problem.

    Odds of being injured are much lower, but odds of flashing someone are much higher.

    As for tight lacing…practice! Actually, training corsets, for kids. Which is so much worse (and fucking pregnancy corsets, though there was, at least in the later Victorian era // Edwardian era, some medical outrage over those)

    And that bustle // hobble dress seems to have a drawstring towards the bottom, if so it was probably not too hard to undo and lift up. Imagine trying to walk in a hobble skirt though! That name is very apt.

  18. Well, skirts fly up, but you won’t accidentally get blown away by the wind in a skirt (and if you do, why the hell are you outside during a freaking tornado warning?),

    Yeah, I heard that tightlacing actually causes your organs to be squished in the wrong places. That’s sort of terrifying, if you think about it. Eventually your body grows in its little corset mold, and that’s how we get people with natural 13 inch waists.

    Hobble skirts. Well, that’s one way to learn how to take dainty little steps, with the threat of tripping and being utterly uncomfortable. I LIKE being able to stretch my legs out, thanks!

  19. Not that anyone wearing them then would have toilet stalls to deal with.

    OK. I wasn’t going to mention this, but you seem to be wondering, sooooo.

    Learned a whole lot more than I ever wanted to know about Tudor and later period toileting habits on a visit to Carrick Hill. A very strange, elongated, but not very big, metal “dish” was part of one display. Imagine a narrow version of a vegetable/ gratin dish like one of these white ones http://www.wayfair.com/Au-Gratin-Dishes-C417543.html *.

    We were blithely informed that these things fitted very neatly inside a muff which wealthy ladies wore to keep their hands warm while travelling in drafty carriages when attending social functions. And they were discreet enough that ladies could retire from a group, use their bring your own urinating equipment, and a servant would dispose of the contents and return the object.


    * Couldn’t come up with a search term that led to the real thing.

  20. OMG, an early version of that stand-up-to-pee gadget!😀

    Speaking of dunnies, there was a bit in Time Team where two of ’em were looking at a garderobe, high up in a castle. First thing they commented on when sitting down (trousers up, I might add) was how DRAUGHTY it was. Sounds like airing the parts would be a thing, but not a very pleasant one.

  21. Tightlacing moves your internal organs to fit, and if you start early enough you can even affect bone growth. There are some awful images on google on about tightlaced skeletons.

    I always want to know how they dealt with hot weather. I can’t imagine how awful it would be to have all those layers, done up in so much fabric, without being able to breath properly. I’ve put on corsets, proper corsets that I could use to tightlace if I wanted to, before, and I couldn’t deal with them if it was hot out. No wonder fainting was so common – they prolly passed out from heat stroke.

  22. The problem is when my brain sees this

    There are some awful images on google on about tightlaced skeletons.

    It reads it as this

    you should probably google tightlaced skeletons to know what I’m talking about.

    TL;DR I have no sense of foresight

  23. Especially when you think of women in hot climates dealing with that sort of thing. It was bad enough in European summers – and this during the Little Ice Age – but here, or in the hot parts of the Americas, or Africa, or India?

    I’ve never worn a corset, but I do sometimes have to use a back brace, and it’s a no-go in summer.

  24. Ironically, just this morning I complained there was no corset weather this spring, it needs to be more than 50F because I can’t wear much under it, but more than say 75F and I start overheating rapidly. And mine’s a fairly loose Georgian style corset! (Kinda a V, with shoulder straps, from shoulder to waist~, the bits that reach to the belly button are just for show, can move just fine in it other than turning and, well, I shouldn’t be turning like that anyways, assuming I like my back to refrain from being owies)

    Anti-tight lacing society! Anyone who’s gets the reference can have a cookie:)

  25. Weren’t they the characters in the 19th century who seem to have really been some guy who had rather a fetish about the whole thing?

  26. Maybe, but that wasn’t the reference I meant…hint: it’s manboobz specific.

  27. It would be cheating for me to say the answer.

  28. It sounds like Meller or one of Mr Al’s socks, but nope, dunno. Might have been before my time (she said, hoping it’s that rather than Shitty Memory Strikes Again).

  29. @mildlymagnificent I understood in England such a thing was called a bordeleau after a rather handsome priest (Mr Bordeleau) who gave such long sermons that his many fangirls needed to be able to relieve themselves.

    My mother had a china one she’d inherited from her grandmother that she used as a rose bowl*

    *this is not a euphemism

  30. @Fade

    TL;DR I have no sense of foresight

    I know that feel.

  31. See, I follow those breadcrumbs because I think it will be fun, not because I don’t realize how freaky it might get.

  32. I always think to myself, ‘but remember that one time you were reading all the freaky stuff and it was totally fun! This’ll be like that!’

    I never remember ‘but you have limits and lines and DEAR GOD IT HAS TEETH’

  33. @kittehs

    I’ve never worn a corset, but I do sometimes have to use a back brace, and it’s a no-go in summer.

    One summer, when I was still trying to do karate with a bad back, I had the fun of being working out, in a gi, with a heating pad on.😛 This isn’t really corset-related, but it is fuck-it’s-hot related. I have a bad heat-tolerance, but sucked it up a heck of a lot more then because heat pads helped my back.

  34. Katz — no, you, cloudiah, Cassandra and pecunium, at minimum, just get cookies, no spoiling it!

  35. Marie – ow, that would be hella hot. Heat pads are great for the back (the back brace I have is a wrap around that’s partly stiffening but mostly keeps heat in) but when you’re not that tolerant of heat, or it’s a hot day, or feckin’ hot flashes start up, they’re just mongrel things to wear.

  36. @kittehs

    It was better than the pain, so I tolerated it:/ Can’t say I’ve had hot flashes though, so I may be lucky there. I did eventually end up getting burns on my back because I wore them so long, but kept wearing them because the pain from burns was so much less than the pain from backache.

    I’m probably making this sound more overdramatic then it is, since the burns didn’t hurt that bad, but I’m just glad my back pain is mostly gone now.

  37. I’d be seriously worried if you had hot flashes, Marie – the ones I’m talking about go with menopause.

  38. @kittehs

    ah. I’d heard it in menopause context but couldn’t tell if it was a heat related thing in this one😛 Ignore me, I suck at biology😄

  39. you should probably google tightlaced skeletons to know what I’m talking about.

    Ah, sadface. Sorry about that. Here. Have kitties.

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