I have a confession to make — I have always liked older women more than younger ones.
This began at a young age when Christy first premiered on CBS. Of course, I liked Christy Huddleston… and I always rather fancied her with David (yes, I know, heresy … but as a sensible child, I did not like Neil’s rudeness nor his atheism) … to be honest, my favorite character was Miss Alice and I lit up like a firefly whenever an episode featured much of her or even revolved around her. Not much has changed, since I universally seem drawn to older females on screen… it was never Ashley or even Kate that I adored on Sanctuary, it was always Helen Magnus — at 157 years old! And although I like both versions of Olivia on Fringe, there are some weeks I sit around wondering, “When is Nina Sharp coming back?” Starbuck annoyed the living daylights out of me on Battlestar Galactica — I was a President Laura Roslin girl all the way. Even on Downton Abbey, I am rather more fond of Mrs. Hughes than anyone else… the practical, strong and formidable housekeeper to whom Ethel in season two turns to help after she is saddled with a “predicament.”
One could dismiss this trend in my behavior as simply being a result of my personality type, one that tends to gravitate more toward sensible people — because all of these women are more sensible, restrained, and wise than their younger female counterparts. But I think it runs deeper than that… I think it says something about human nature and the nature of women in particular — an aspect of our genetics that has either been denied or misconstrued in modern society, the fact that it is in our nature to seek out mentors. Humans naturally crave meaningful relationships and from childhood, we select idols that represent who we want to become. As little girls, we looked up to the big girls … in our eyes, they were something magnificent because they were older. It had nothing to do with their intelligence or wisdom level, merely that they were the “Big Girls.” I have to remember that now when I see younger girls shifting toward me, looking at me with that same awe and wonder that at their age I leveled at girls who were older than me.
God put this instinct in us for a reason, so that we might learn from one another and mentor each other through the difficult trials of life. This is one reason often we do ourselves a disservice by only becoming acquainted with people our own age — a problem that a lot of young adults have, because our society is so intent on segregating us into groups. Having connections to other young people through a young adult group is an awesome thing, because it can cement us together in your mutual awareness of the culture, but we also need older friends, wiser friends, friends who have been knocked about a few times and come out knowing what lies on the other end. We need mentors in many places in our lives, people to encourage and inspire us to be our best… spiritual mentors, mentors who are wives and mothers, or still single but content in being older and alone, women who are strong in their faith and convictions. And if we cannot find them in real life, it begins to manifest in a fictional world, where your soul cries out for inspiration and finds it in the most unlikely of places, through a person that represents something you admire and most desire to become.
I feel an immense amount of compassion for the men in our society, because society is somewhat accepting of women without becoming too suspicious, but men have a harder time with mentorship because of how the world views intense same-sex friendships. It’s natural to see little girls hugging one another or sleeping next to each other, innocently caught up in each other’s arms, but for boys there is a different kind of bond, one that makes many of them uncomfortable. We live in a world that pursues pleasures at the cost of true happiness and the destruction of mentors and friendships. We live in a world in which even the friendship of David and Jonathon in scripture is called into speculation, because it included the word “love.” We live in a world in which implications are made about Ruth and Naomi, that Ruth went with her not because of a mother-and-daughter-in-law bond but because there was something else going on. We have permitted the world to influence us, to cause us to shy away from feelings that are completely natural — from allowing us to experience the friendships and mentorships that God intended for us.
Not all forms of love are sexual, and not all kinds of attraction are the same. In the world’s eyes, the two are confused and therefore if you “like” older women, you must be in love with older women. There is sexual desire and there is admiration, and the two are very different. One is a physical response (at times, yes, driven by our emotional interest in someone or something) and the other is a spiritual yearning. We are drawn most to what we most want to be… even at times, as an indication of our life’s purpose. I am drawn to strong, independent, and capable women who tackle the world with a fearlessness that makes them formidable… because that is what I most want to be. I would love to have the wisdom and spiritual depth of Miss Alice, the strength and control of Helen Magnus, the intelligence of the enigmatic Nina Sharp, the courage and resourcefulness of Laura Roslin, and the poise and discernment of Mrs. Hughes.
Lately, God has been expanding my circle of acquaintances, both of peers and older individuals, and I am discovering that the older women of my church have much to teach me, friendship to offer me… and possibly that I in turn have something to offer them: youth and exuberance and, yes, a touch of sarcasm when the situation calls for it. We all need someone we can trust and look up to, who will smack us into line if we need it and permit us to cry on her shoulder in our darker hours… and we all need to remember that mentors are not limited to others… for a younger girl, that mentor just might be… us.