Move over Shakespeare – here's 'the many ages of women'

In As You Like It, William Shakespeare wrote his famous ‘the seven ages of man’. Had he been less of a MCP (male chauvinist pig), he might, one day, have written ‘the seven ages of women’.

Having been the beneficiary of a wife, four daughters and six grand-daughters (plus my mother, too, of course) I feel at least partially qualified to offer William Shakespeare some suggestions.

First off, I would like to suggest that instead of copying the title of the male version, we call it ‘the many ages of women’ because there are more than seven. 

The only similarity between the male and female versions is in the first age – “At first the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms”. From then on, their pathways would diverge.

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Far from “crawling like snail unwillingly to school”, most little girls seem to dance along to school chattering happily with their friends.

Then we have the “mini, demure maiden or Amazon-girl”, who alternate until the next landmark, the menarche, the beginning of womanhood in its fullest biological sense. Which leads to the development and, sometimes, exploration of the meaning and realities of the word, womanhood.

This is, usually, followed by learning about co-existing with members of the opposite sex, the implications of motherhood, while avoiding the unwanted and preparing for the wanted pregnancies.

Motherhood itself is a ‘coming-of-age’ like no other life-changing event. However often or seldom it occurs, it is always a rest-of-life-changing experience.

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Menopause, too, is another truly life-changing experience that only women experience. As is the experience of a child that you have born giving birth.

It is no wonder that so grandmothers, even in the ‘most advanced’ Western societies, have a special place in their family hierarchy.  

As a one-time counsellor for the male perpetrators of domestic violence, it never failed to amaze me that so many of them resented women for what they should have most appreciated – their ability to give birth.

Some men are really dumb.

What do you think of Peter’s version of Shakespeare’s famous ‘seven ages’. Has he missed anything? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?

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Written by Peter Leith