Oct 18, 2019 | Sandra Pierce



Back in October, this photo of Nancy Pelosi wagging her finger at President Trump immediately went viral and was greeted by a strong emotional response, equally positive and negative.

I must confess, I have been known to wag a finger from time to time and have been told it’s one of my least “endearing habits”. Let’s face it, no one likes a finger wagged in their face.

Seeing someone of Ms. Pelosi’s stature doing it and the noise that followed on Twitter compelled me to explore how the finger wag came about and why it elicits such a strong negative reaction.

I discovered it was first used in Pagan Rome. The wag of the finger was a sign priests would use to summon those they were erotically attracted to. No wonder after Christianity became The Empire's official religion, the finger wag became a forbidden expression. Throughout the Middle Ages "wagging thine finger" was punishable by death.

The Age of Enlightenment saw its return. Now, to wag your finger at someone meant metaphorically you wanted them dead. However, as time went on this gesture morphed into something less extreme and became an expression of great annoyance.

For me, the image of Nancy Pelosi chastising a scowling Trump was an iconic moment that transcended politics. As a woman over 60, I have no problem admitting my obsession with finding examples of “women of a certain age” rocking it. If only ageism was all we had to contend with at this stage of our lives. Unfortunately, it’s combined with a healthy dose of misogyny to dismiss the post-menopausal woman.

Did you know only two creatures go through this biological transition, women and killer whales? But, whereas women, past the age of menopause, now risk being viewed as being of lesser importance, female killer whales go on to become leaders of their pods!

In Canada, by 2031, nearly one-quarter of the total female population is projected to be 65 or older. And I believe it is important from time to time, to be reminded ‘we’ still matter. AND that we are not fading off into the sunset.

When I saw Ms. Pelosi confront the most powerful man in the United States by wagging her finger and putting him in his place my reaction was one of “You go girl!” I was thrilled to see a women, soon to turn 80, leading her ‘pod’!

I believe it’s important that women talk about and acknowledge these moments. I’m motivated by seeing women over 70 act fearlessly and speak the truth when silence is safer. If you don’t see it you can’t dream it. Witnessing these powerful women encourages me every day to dream about what I still have to accomplish in my profession and in my life.

In the words of the great American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim:

♫♫ Good times and bum times, I've seen 'em all

And, my dear, I'm still here

Plush velvet sometimes

Sometimes just pretzels and beer, but I'm here

I've run the gamut, A to Z

Three cheers and dammit, C'est la vie

I got through all of last year, and I'm here

Lord knows, at least I was there, and I'm here

Look who's here, I'm still here ♫♫