Erica Jong: Fear of Landing


by Renata Singer

Quote Erica Jong

Erica Jong has made it a trifecta.

There was Fear of Flying in 1973. Remember the zipless fuck, a phrase that liberated many young women from the idea that sex had to be tied to a meaningful RELATIONSHIP. Everyone I knew read Fear of Flying.   It was well written, laugh out loud funny and HOT. What’s not to like?

Sibylesque Strong Wind

Fear of Fifty, a memoir, came out in 1994. I didn’t read it because of the lukewarm reviews and not being that interested in Erica Jong’s life. I remember interviews where Jong talked about turning 50 and no longer “feeling a babe” and how men’s eyes didn’t swivel her way any more when she entered the room. The mean-spirited Renata thought, “well darls, join the club.”

Hot off the press is Jong’s Fear of Dying – a novel about an aging actress – she’s 60 – Vanessa Wonderman, with dying parents, a husband who can’t get an erection and a daughter about to have her first baby. Vanessa goes to the website looking for sexual partners.

In an interview with Linda Wertheimer on NPR, Jong says she wanted to write about sex and old age. “I thought it was essential to do it, because sex follows us throughout our lives. The need for touch, the need for connection, that never goes away. But the forms of it change. As people age, touch is more important, erections are less important. And I think somebody needs to write about that.”

Jong has not lost her sense of mission and that’s a good thing. But what’s the next title going to be: Fear of Purgatory?

……………………………………………………………………………………. Renata SingerRenata Singer is a writer, community activist and educator who divides her time between Melbourne and New York. She co-founded Fitted for Work after working with Bottomless Closet in New York. Among Renata’s publications are The Front of the Family, True Stories from the Land of Divorce and Goodbye and Hello. Her most recent book “Older and Bolder” is reviewed on this blog here.

Photo Source: pinterest, MUP Website.


How old is old in Hollywood? You don’t want to know.

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purple quote 1“I wish that other women would let other women age gracefully. Women take it as something personal that they are getting older. They think that they failed somehow by not staying 25. This is crazy to me because my belief is that it’s a privilege to get older – not everybody gets to get older’
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……………………………..Cameron Diaz, actress, 41.

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In the 1967 film, The Graduate, Anne Bancroft played Mrs Robinson, a bored-housewife living in a loveless marriage. When the 21-year-old Ben Braddock played by Dustin Hoffman visits the Robinsons, urged on by his parents (Mr Robinson is a partner in a legal firm with Ben’s father), he is seduced by the much older Mrs Robinson. Ben, however, falls in love with Elaine, the Robinson’s daughter, and in a climactic ending, the young couple run off together.

The Graduate 1967  Anne Bancroft  and Dustin Hoffman

The Graduate 1967
Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman

At the time, Anne Bancroft was 36-years-old and, in fact, only 6 years older than Dustin Hoffman. So, historically, in Hollywood you are branded ‘the older woman’ at 36 years of age.

Forty-five plus years on The Graduate highlights a more disturbing issue. In the film, Mrs Robinson is a ‘formidable’ character. There is a word you do not hear any more. ‘Formidable’ applied to an older woman in a position of authority. The ‘formidable woman’ was matronly and someone to reckon with. She stood for definite principles. She didn’t tolerate fools and often held the position of Hospital Matron, Head Mistress or, even, the family Matriarch. When we were young girls many ‘formidable women’ – Reverend Mother, for starters –  had our measure. Where are they today? These days, older women, who exercise authority are described as ‘ball breakers’, ‘old dragons’ or, in the case of the matriarch, ‘a Control Freak’. Is it the ‘management team’ and their spin that has replaced the ‘formidable woman in the workplace? Has the mass movement of women out of the home and into the workplace in the 1970s unthroned the matriarch? Curious, isn’t it?

Anne Bancroft, 70, 2001

Anne Bancroft, 70, 2001

At 70 years of age Anne Bancroft (above) still looked impressive. She won an Oscar in 1962 for her role in The Miracle Worker. She was happily married to her second husband, Mel Brooks, for 45 years. They had one son. Sadly, she died in 2005.

Photo Source: Film Promotion Pic and