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Byron Shire
May 22, 2024

How to cure Cranky Old Man Syndrome

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Andropause – menopause for me.

For menopausal women, humour helps get you through the day. 

‘I am trying not to ovaryact’. 

‘I’m not sure if I really do have free time, or am I forgetting everything?’. 

‘I’m going out for ice cream or to commit a crime – I’ll decide in the car’.

But what about men and menopause? Is it a thing?

Well, apparently it is. 

It’s called Andropause – the difference is, instead of a rapid change in body chemistry, men experience a steady decline in testosterone over 15–20 years. 

It creates creeping change in mood and in some cases triggers  ‘Cranky Old Man Syndrome’.

I stumbled upon it trying to understand the generation of older men who are basically in control of our planet – what are they thinking, and why are they invoking so much violence and war?

If this elite club has a President, it would have to be Rupert Murdoch (92) the most powerful media tycoon in the Western world. 

He is a climate denier, creator of Fox and Sky News and sponsor of Donald Trump (76), who is renominating for US President to run against Joe Biden (80). 

Whoever wins will need to deal with two other presidents who changed their nations rules limiting terms of office in order to stay in power – China’s President Xi Jinping (69), and Russia’s Vladimir Putin (70). 

They are both are focussed on changing the world order and annexing neighbouring countries. 

Meanwhile, in Australia, former Labor PM, Paul Keating (79), continues to grab headlines with his foreign policy prescriptions, and the Liberals are still clinging to John Howard (83), who is still active and writing to voters in every election.

The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei (83), is defending a religious theocratic crackdown on women;  in Germany a raid involving 3,000 police arrested fascists, led by a ‘confused’ aristocrat, Heinrich XIII (71), who ‘fell for (pandemic) conspiracy theories’. 

The group initially planned to kidnap the German Health Minister, then overthrow the state. 

Another failed coup d’état was led by Jair Bolsonaro (68), after he was defeated in the Brazilian national election.

The common thread linking these men is that their formative years were all during the Cold War, and they are trying to revive many of the discredited values, and goals that were buried along with that era.

They are seeking to drag us back in history to serve their 1950s authoritarian agendas, which are often anti-science, always aggressively nationalistic, and employ brutal methods, ranging from state-sponsored repression and disinformation, to violence and outright war. 

Here in Australia, there is an acceptance of the impact these reactionary old men are having on stability in the Pacific, and our economy. 

But there is also a growing awareness and rejection of those values, particularly by young Australians, whose votes are putting an end to our own two-party system that was shaped during the Cold War. 

Test of the Voice

The election of so many crossbench MPs in recent federal and state elections is channeling power away from executive government and back into our parliaments. Parliaments have, in recent times, become a rubber stamp for increasingly autocratic prime ministers, like Scott Morrison. 

The referendum for the Voice is a tremendous test of how much has changed here. 

The Liberal-Nationals party decision to oppose the Voice would ordinarily doom it to failure. 

Based on this history, I have been openly apprehensive of going down that track – and yet there is genuine optimism that the old ways are no longer dominant, and those ‘rules’ may no longer apply.

The Voice seeks to affirm truth-telling, recognise the special standing of First Nations people, and deliver a process that promises to improve miserable policy outcomes. 

The Voice is for them – but it is also for all of us, the decision defines what sort of nation we aspire to become – and do we have the confidence to modernise our democracy based solely upon our Australian character and unique experience? 

Can we calmly discern facts from disinformation; can we distinguish between proud patriotism and bigoted nationalism? 

Can we make these changes to our foundation document in defiance of the narcissism and fear that is ruining democracy in America, and killing hundreds of thousands in senseless wars?

There is too much elderly male leadership holding our planet back – the Voice bravely challenges this kind of international Andropause that underpins so much anger, war and scapegoating. 

The Voice is a uniquely Australian proposition. It is for First Nations Australians, but it also speaks to young people who want a better future; it speaks to all of us, beckoning a better more respectful way of solving problems. If it succeeds, the Voice will speak loudest of all to the whole world that Australians seek a better way to interact with each other. 

And that would be an achievement the whole planet could use right now. The Voice is hope for everyone.

♦ Catherine Cusack is a former NSW Liberal MLC.

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  1. Evolution is an excruciatingly slow process for those of us burdened with the knowledge of right and wrong. Turning away from old men is a small step along the way. (I know because I am one)

  2. I hate this sort of profiling. There are plenty of old men making wonderful contributions to our general well being. The cohort, “old men” would include the full gamut of political views and personal qualities and failings. Old age is not a barrier to objectivity, adaptation to change, compassion, judgement etc. etc. etc

    We can be in favour of a balance in power and representation without disparaging particular groups. It’s divisive and counterproductive.

  3. That is a lovely comment, my dear Dad who passed away recently aged 92 and who was the antithesis of “cranky old man” always said the same and encouraged me with this thinking. Bless all of you thanks 🙂

  4. Yes, men do get hot flushes and sweating when there’s a quick drop in hormones. For men it’s called womenopause. Men often don’t like to talk about their health. It’s a natural event for both men and women to have hormonal changes. It’s not a sickness. A couple of men I know have described the sudden heat and sweating. I didn’t bother with the rest of the article as it’s all political.

  5. I’m a cranky senior white male when I read conspiracy theory nonsense, climate change denial and the rubbish put out by the no campaign to start with. More diversity is important in our politics especially in getting people involved and believing in our democracy rather than just saying don’t trust politicians.

  6. I also identify (‘e/ ‘im) as an OWM. Thanks for the unhelpful, ageist gobbledygook, not to mention the virtue signalling distancing yourself from from the party that is, at the behest of the Nats no doubt, pushing “no”.

  7. I could easily write a ‘How to cure Cranky Old Woman Syndrome’, as there are equivalently to all that, and the Echo would never dare publish it. They would be attacked if they did. What other truths can they not publish? How much do they publish that suffers from this dynamic, that isn’t so easy to identify? The Echo is hostage to its readers like every other media outlet. You have to keep that in your head when you are reading, listening, viewing.

  8. Always a Lib, the first person Ms Cusack wanted to knock over was Labor’s Paul Keating and his ‘foreign policy prescriptions’, how shallow and naive of her, when the former PM and many many others saw the AUKUS deal as a disaster, the worst deal ever, bad policy etc etc, Keating only told it truthfully and with the hindsight of experience, many credible pollies agreed with his brilliant analysis… yet she never described fellow Lib John Howard as he really is: one of the worst war criminals ever when he Bush and Blair conspired to illegally kill millions of innocent people in Iraq. Then of course there’s the late demented (angry and cranky) Maggie Thatcher who ordered illegal killing of many to keep herself in power, so it’s also angry old conservative women too, let’s not be gender specific about evil. Keating put every dumb journalists at the press club in their place, propagandists for the war machine… bet Ms Cusack didn’t watch Keating’s address there, it was riveting stuff.


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