I've read a couple of pieces lately which indicate that college educated women between the ages of thirty-five and forty are more likely to be married than high school educated women of the same age. Other articles have noted that thirty-five through forty-five are the ages when people are most likely to get divorced.
College educated women are more likely to remarry.
I've been thinking about what happens during these years in the last day or so because of the death of Whitney Houston. Houston, like Judy Garland, did not commit suicide, but certainly facilitated her own death through substance abuse linked with her own set of personal demons. Both women sought help, though I'd argue that Houston stood a better chance at long-term recovery because she came to substance abuse later in life and had a better support system around her, family and otherwise.
Perhaps inevitably people have drawn comparisons between Houston and Amy Winehouse; Winehouse died in time to fall into the "dead at twenty-seven" category that places her with so many other very talented musicians who died terribly young. I'd argue that it's the Garlands and Houstons we should look at more carefully.
Garland died at forty-seven, Houston at forty-eight. I think this is telling, and I've made a note to look for other women who fall in this category. For Winehouse and Hendrix we can say, "ah, how tragic, so young" but for these women the two additional decades produce more of interest. I'd also note that they both produced children whom they adored, thus "fulfilling" woman's traditional role. Did aging out of reproduction play a part in their addiction and demise?
Houston died less than a week after Madonna's Super Bowl extravaganza. I read a great deal of catty commentary about her age, most of it, I suspect, written by people who wouldn't last five minutes in her heels, let alone be able to dance through a twelve minute dance number. Madonna has always seemed to me quite canny. She's less of an artist than Garland or Houston, and I think she knows it. Certainly Madonna has filled her fair share of tabloid inches and has made some questionable choices, but allegations of excessive reliance upon drugs or alcohol are not among them. She stays in shape and, interestingly to me, adopted children when she passed child-bearing age - roughly the age of Houston and Garland.
I'm not claiming that motherhood is all that defines a woman and can keep her sane, not do I downplay the challenges to breaking an addiction at any age, but the contrast between these three women strikes me quite forcefully.
Oh, and for those of you who think Houston lacked talent, I present Whitney Houston's isolated vocal track on How Will I Know.