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Why Does Frances McDormand Want To Be Invisible?

Why Does Frances McDormand Want To Be Invisible?

 

Frances McDormand, an actress we have always admired, was the subject of a recent New York Times essay. In it, she affirms her delight in being invisible. 

"[W]hat you gain after menopause is the power of invisibility. You become sexually invisible to both me and women. You gain the power of not giving a [expletive.]"

"[I] have reveled in my invisibility for 10 years."

Well, that took us aback, because we are always complaining about invisibility. Like Ms. McDormand, we think a woman's invisibility is tied to sexuality. But unlike her, we perceive it not as a power but as a screen. A barrier that our culture created a long time ago, probably in the Pleistocene Era, when life expectancy was very short and the planet was very much in need of populating.

Humans have evolved in the millennia since then. We will now live til our nineties, and the planet is rather well populated. Once we women can share the delightful burden of bearing and rearing children, we will have the freedom to do what men have been doing all the while--rule the world. With them, of course. But we won't have that chance unless we are visible, and we fight for it.  

Why does Ms. McDormand feel so differently? Maybe because she is so much more visible than we, and she is tired of paparazzi. Admittedly, we do not have that problem. We have to pay to get people to take pictures of us. Usually. But her issue could be addressed in ways less terminal than becoming invisible. And the nuisance of being visible is a small thing compared to exercising the full powers of a human being. A human being who does actually give an [expletive] about a lot of things, and could, with others, use those powers to do something about what matters. 

So we remain of the view that being invisible is, pretty much for all post-menopausal women, a negative that is imposed on us rather than assumed by us. We want visibility. Now.

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