1. Older Women In The Media w/ Susan Douglas, professor of Communication Studies, University of Michigan Jane Leder 29:54

It's become a cliche: older women in the media are portrayed as mothers, grandmothers, washed-up lovers, mother-in-laws.  Think of the invasive mother-in-law in “Everyone Loves Raymond.” And the same goes for “Steinfeld.” And then think of how men in their 60s, particularly in movies, are paired with women in their late 20s or early 30s. James Bond gets older every year, and the Bond girls get younger. And then there's the Going Gray bru-ha-ha when women stopped coloring their hair during the Pandemic and, when they returned to work as, say TV anchors, they were given an ultimatum: Get rid of the gray or leave.

But all is not lost, says Susan Douglas, award-winning author and professor of Communication Studies, at the University of Michigan. “Things have started to change in large part because there are more women 50+ than at any time in our history,” says Douglas. “Older women want to see reflections of themselves in the media, and A-listers want to keep on working, fighting for better roles. Older women are a market, and for better or worse, our buying power puts pressure on film studios, broadcast media, and advertisers.

We are at a turnstile moment,” says Douglas. “There are those who want to push forward, while others want to push back. There is progress but not as much as older women want.

Do you see more accurate reflections of older women in the media? Do you agree or disagree with Susan's research?


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Jane Leder Podcaster & Author

I am an award-winning author of books about teen suicide, siblings, and men and women during WWII. My feature articles have appeared in publications from Psychology Today to the Chicago Sun-Times. I enjoy the journey of writing, the process. But as I celebrated my seventy-seventh birthday, I wanted a change of focus and turned my creative energies into launching "Older Women & Friends," a podcast. The challenge has been exhilarating and will certainly help me make it through the dead of winter in the Midwest.