A recent Making Light post by Teresa Nielsen Hayden about her invisibility at Home Depot got me to thinking about women of a certain age,* one of which I am rapidly becoming. Not only are we difficult for Home Depot employees to see, we also seem to be largely invisible in science fiction as well. ** In fact, I’m not sure I can think of more than a half-dozen. And even a couple of those are fraught, like Maureen in To Sail Beyond the Sunset.
But what’s more interesting to me is that the WOACAs who do show up, don’t get to do all that much. I can list quite a few men in the same age range who are the SF story’s main actor. But women like Bujold’s Cordelia don’t get to do all that much once they are done with having their young. Is it that they stop being interesting after that point?
I feel as if I’m missing quite a few of these characters, however. Who would be on your list? And what part in the story does she play?
* Note one: quick definition, which may get refined as we go: WOACA means those who are past the knitty-gritty of childbearing (yet may still have children under age 18) but not yet old enough to qualify as a crone. Patricia Heaton, Catherine Keener and Daryl Hannah are WOACA, if stunning ones. Betty White is not. I think Meryl Streep is; however, many may not. In terms of SF, Cordelia in Bujold’s A Civil Campaign is. Cordelia in Shards of Honor is not. Celebrities aside, most of these women aren’t seen as objects of desire anymore but do not yet have the sheen of wisdom.
* Note two: Fantasy has its own set of baggage about WOACAs. That’s a different post.