OPINION: ‘Women are like butterflies … they can fly through a hurricane’

Monday 18 January 2021 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion


OPINION: ‘Women are like butterflies … they can fly through a hurricane’
** ADVANCE FOR USE THURSDAY, DEC. 23, 2010 AND THEREAFTER ** FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010 file picture, Betty White, a cast member in "You Again," poses with fans holding masks of her at the premiere of the film in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) ORG XMIT: NY987

We’re in tough times, but we’re in the best of places. The irony is, now’s not the time to be ‘positive’, because you must test ‘negative’ to travel and survive, writes Ruta Mave.

My maternal grandmother died aged 99.5, my paternal grandmother aged 94, and my great grandmother buried at Ngatangiia reached 92 years. I tell my kids, it’s in the genes, so count on me being around a while.

What my Nana’s saw in their lifetimes the changes they welcomed and endured, the wars, poverty, depression and inventions, is astounding. In the movie Back to the Future, McFly, travels to the year 2015 where they have hoverboards, and cars that are fueled by rubbish, well, here we are still using fossil fuels, even though technology has existed for years to run engines off water.

What changes will we see if we last to the best part of a century?

Betty White, an American actress and comedian, is turning 99, with 80 years spent in the TV, film industry. She’s an advocate for living your best life and spreading positivity, saying “you’re never too old to do anything” – that staying young comes from laughter. Her philosophy is “act bubbly every day… drink bubbly every birthday” plus “you need eight hours beauty sleep, nine, if you’re ugly”. When questioned, does desire melt away with age, she replies “I’m still waiting for that day to come. I may be a senior, but so what, I’m still hot”.

Is life that simple, having a good attitude? With the world facing major restrictions with the Covid pandemic seemingly out of control, people forced into their homes 24/7, many having lost their jobs, income and poised to lose their homes, can you easily remain upbeat and optimistic. My Nana’s lived through the post WW1 Spanish influenza that lasted two years and infected approximately 500 million people and estimated 50 million deaths. So far, Covid-19 is up to 95 million infected and 2 million deaths. They lived through the economic Great Depression where 20 million lost their jobs with little or no government assistance.

It’s worth taking stock of ourselves in our little paradise and think things aren’t so bad. Looking forward what innovations can we expect to see? In the 70s, I remember getting a colour TV, then the Atari game shuttlecock, what fun. Computers were still as large as houses and phones were connected to an actual line stuck in the wall.

When my 10-year-old wanted a mobile phone, I’m like ‘hey, I didn’t get my first phone until I was 30 years old’. She asked why, ‘Nan wouldn’t let me have one’, I had to reply because it wasn’t invented then! Now, instead of the large brick block I carried around, they essentially have mini satellite computers, to rival that of Star Trek Enterprise. How will we handle new technology? I’m still a dinosaur on the phone, excel, apps and Bluetooth.

When people suggest to Betty White how with social media she can keep in contact with friends, using Facebook and Twitter, her reply is “at my age if I want to contact my old friend’s I’d need a Ouija board”.

When you think closely, technology has brought all things ‘magical’ into reality, Facetiming someone across the world is like ‘beam me up scotty’ stuff when we were growing up, zoom meetings look like the opening to The Brady Bunch, or Sesame Street closing.  It’s just a matter of time before we can, ‘disparate’ but would you try it? You might end up in Diagon Alley if you get it wrong.

Getting old has never been a problem for Betty, she believes, “The older you get, the better you get. Unless you’re a banana,” getting older there’s a process of loss. After three marriages, Betty is single, but she says, “I’ve always liked older men, they’re just more attractive to me, of course at my age there aren’t that many left”. Even with her positivity she’s realistic about age “If you catch me talking to an empty chair, it’s time to up my meds.”

The past century has shown women change their position in the world the most. Women work in all industries, including military, and vote with some leading large countries. Women have shown they’re a force to be reckoned with, all this achievement, while still producing children, homes and baking for fundraisers.  Betty says “women are like butterflies – we may look pretty and delicate, but baby, we can fly through a hurricane.”

Her belief in the power of women, their strength and resilience in face of tough times is best quoted as “Why do people say ‘grow some balls?’ Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding”.

We’re in tough times, but we’re in the best of places, the irony is, now’s not the time to be ‘positive’, because you must test ‘negative’ to travel and survive.