Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Granny's Got Your Back

by Heather Robinson

Granny's Got Your BackThe Raging Grannies defy just about every stereotype our culture has about older women. They are politically active, intellectually sharp, unapologetic about their opinions and willing to do just about anything to get their message of peace and social justice out into the world. These are women who aren't ashamed they've been around the block a few times, and are ready and willing to apply some of the important life lessons they have learned along the way. Lesson No. 1 is that a hilarious ditty often catches a lot more ears than an angry chant. The group recently sang their social justice hearts out at a rally they organized to protest the passage of California's Proposition 8:

Another Groom, another groom
Another sunny honeymoon
Love is so pleasin', no other reason
For makin' whoopee

The Raging Grannies are known for using a unique style of interactive street theatre to tell their story. "What we really go for is camera ops for TV and photo ops for the paper, because mainstream media does not want to talk to women our age, but when we're on the streets and making something for them to photograph they're very interested in hearing our message," said Ruth Robertson (aka Granny Ruth) who organizes many of the groups actions. The recently released documentary Raging Grannies follows the adventures of the gaggle from Mountain View, Calif. as they protest for peace and justice.

Many of the women in the film mention the frustration over not being listened to in a sexist and ageist society. Together in their granny getups of fancy hats, shawls and aprons, they gain power and make an impact. For the Prop. 8 protest they donned wedding gowns, held bouquets and belted it out for the civil rights of gay people. One of the grannies even squeezed into her original wedding dress, with the assistance of some helpful grannies and quite a few pins. Lesson number two is that not having a perfect singing voice shouldn't stand in the way of getting one's message across. "We don't want to sit around in rehearsals. We just want to be out on the streets," said Robertson.

Italian shoes, who cares the price
Both grooms are nervous
They answer twice, Prop. 8 was killin'
Some folks weren't willin'
For them to whoopee

There is no minimum age requirement for Raging Grannyhood, though the average age is 50 plus. "If you're willing to put on the persona of a granny, which we like because it's a non-threatening sort of humorous image, then you're old enough," said Robertson. Granny Marion Bush, who also appears in the documentary, is currently the ripest granny, at the age of 92.


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