strong female leads

As an Old Crone Who Wants to Bone, I Am Empowered by Ti West’s X

Photo: Christopher Moss/A24

As young people are always reminding me when they are not running away from me screaming, representation matters. I rarely get to see myself (an old crone wearing a sheer nightgown all day long, crying at how crazy the skin on the back of my hands looks) in the media and that deeply affects my self-image. Sometimes I even wonder — and it’s a little embarrassing to admit this — if I am still allowed to bone, because I never see old crones boning in movies. So when my friend, another old crone who lives across the street from me (we are all in the same neighborhood), told me that the new Ti West movie, X, stars a strong female lead who is an old crone and who still wants to fuck, I was very excited to finally get to a chance to see myself onscreen.

We old crones with sexual needs have very few cinematic role models to choose from. Basically, it’s Alzheimer’s Allie from The Notebook and the woman from The Shining who comes out of the bathtub. It’s even rarer when the old crones are played by actual old crones and not young hot women in horrifying makeup that takes them nine hours to put on. Which is why I was so grateful to hear that Ti West was brave enough to center his film on a woman like me played by a real-life old crone.

When I turned on X, I immediately looked up the actress who plays the old crone, wondering if she lived in my same neighborhood — oh, wait. No, this is actually 28-year-old actress Mia Goth in horrifying makeup that took nine hours to put on. Well. That’s okay. She looks very, very old, older than time itself. Ti West is still making an important point — that our society sidelines old crones by rendering them at first invisible in a general sense and then repulsive as sexual beings. It’s so nice to watch a movie where a woman over 30 a woman pretending to be over 30 is allowed to want to have sex and it’s not meant to be gross or inherently frightening.

Take, for example, the scene in which the old crone puts on a dress and her boobs are actually belly button length and the camera really stresses that point — but that’s what representation looks like. We can’t be afraid of an old crone’s naked body; we must confront it head-on so it won’t have so much power to upset us as a culture. She proceeds to hold this young guy close to her and sigh, and he looks like he wants to puke and throws her off of him in a disturbed panic. But that’s not about her being old, right? Is it because they don’t really know each other very well and he has not offered verbal consent? Or because he was watching beautiful young people have sex on camera all day and he is just tired? Oh, now she’s murdering him. I think this is actually good. I guess the point being made is actually, yes, he thinks she is gross, but how DARE he find her gross? It’s not gross for old crones to want love! So this murder is about feminism. I love this movie.

And later, when the old crone gets into bed and rubs her spotted, loose-skinned hand down Mia Goth’s young, taut body and Mia screams and screams and runs to the sink and washes herself obsessively, that’s not because she’s freaked out by the old crone’s age, it’s because she was just …surprised! That’s all. I’m still feeling really empowered by this movie. And when the old crone finally has sex with her husband, and the camera fixates on their sagging, flapping skin — both its graphic visual effect and the sort of goopy Jell-O sound it makes when the two decrepit lovers rub against each other — which, again, is not real skin but prosthetic skin made to look and sound exactly like this — and Mia Goth is so disgusted that she actually has to leave her hiding spot under the bed despite the risk of being murdered like all of her friends, that’s very feminist, too.

X is a scathing critique of our patriarchal society and what it does to women as we age. Look at how we treat old crones who just want to fuck! it screams at its complicit viewers. We treat them so badly they go crazy and kill people! That’s on us. Now … watch how gross it is when this old crone tries to fuck!

Wait, no. Sorry, that last part was my mistake — I’m old, remember. I get confused. The movie’s point is that we shouldn’t be shamed because of our age and totally disgusting hands and body and face. I think. Yes, that’s definitely right. It’s just as I have always said every day for the past 40 years of being an old crone (I am 70): We, too, should be allowed to have dungeons full of male and female sex slaves terrified and ready to cater to our every whim who are NOT scared of us because we are old but rather because they were kidnapped and locked up underground for years by a true girlboss. Old Crone Rights!!!

As an Old Crone Who Wants to Bone, Ti West’s X Empowered Me