Ageism is as odious as racism and sexism
Racism, especially in the United States, has likely been experienced by most people who are not Caucasians. Sexism, to varying extents, has likely been experienced by virtually all women. Unlike other isms that may disadvantage people based on race and ethnicity, gender or sexual identity, ageism if available to all who live beyond 60 of so years old.
Ageism is both the least confronted and the most prevalent ism. And this prejudice has no boundaries of gender, race or any other demographic other that simply the normal process of aging. Even if you not a part of an already disadvantaged group, all you have to do to suffer from ageism is stay alive long enough.
Old age, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Old age is a moving target. Ask a class of first graders, “how old is old?” and they may say in your 20s or 30s. Teenagers may push that back to 40s. The general rule of thumb is that most people will say that old is some 10–20 years older than they are when asked the question.
A recent AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) study found that of 3,900 adults (age 45 and up) polled, 61% indicated that they have experienced or seen age discrimination at their workplace. Sometimes it is built into the job application process. Of respondents who had applied for a new job in the last two years, 44% reported that they were asked their age directly or their school graduation year (from which age could be closely estimated).
A recent study by Tulane University researchers sent more than 40,000 resumes to apply for 13,000 job openings posted online in 12 U.S. cities. They responded with three different resumes representing three different age groups (i.e., younger, middle-aged and senior applicants). Each resume listed nearly identical skills. They found that the older candidates received 20–50% (depending on the job) fewer callbacks than the younger ones.
In one study, 70% of older (60+ years old) Americans surveyed indicated that they had been mistreated on the basis of their age. I can’t speak for all countries, but in the U.S. there is a strong stigma against aging. This is also an area where sexism and ageism converge since in the U.S., there is a far stronger stigma against aging for women than for men.
Why is there a bias against aging?
Why are people discounted as they get older? “Anti-aging” and other cosmetic products are a multibillion-dollar industry. The message is continually hammered home through advertising. Subliminal messages are aimed at women, in essence saying, “you need to buy these products to stop and/or reverse the aging process”, “you are less of woman if you don’t stay young and beautiful”, “if you look old, men will not want to have sex with you any longer”, “your value as a woman is tied to your looks”.
And it goes beyond “beauty products”, such as, “our clinic has plastic surgeons who can make your saggy boobs perky again”, “we can get rid of those wrinkles on your face”, “we can lift your droopy butt”, “we can surgically restore your self-esteem”.
While the ancient Greeks saw aging as a disease. I do think that in 2019, it is past time to discard that belief. Why is a natural process depicted as if it is a curse?
As noted earlier, there is no common agreement as to what age defines “older adults”. However, the most common age of delineating “older adults” is 60 and over. Ageism is even build into the working definition of “older adults”. Many people live to age 100 and older. A 40+ year span. In younger age classifications, a 10-year old would not be aggregated with a 50-year old, but that too is a 40-year span. Lumping 60-year-olds with 100-year-olds is simply another example of ageism.
Veiled ageism comments
Even seemingly well-intended comments often represent veiled ageism. “You look great for your age”. Are those last three words necessary as qualifiers? I take that as, “you don’t really look great, but for your age, I’ve seen some people who look even worse” or “you seem to still be alive and breathing, I expected you to be dead by now”.
How about, “you don’t look 65”. Well, what the fuck is 65 suppose to look like? If she/he is 65, then that is exactly what 65 looks like!
“My grandma is so adorable”. Yeah, she’s so darling that you just can’t resist demeaning her, huh? “Adorable” infantizes an older person. Save “adorable” for babies and puppies. Use language that shows respect to older people. They have earned that respect.
“Can I help you, young lady”?” If you are speaking to a woman who is clearly older than you are, she will not take it as a compliment. Why reference her age at all? To her it may sound the same as “can I help you, old woman”?
“60 is the new 30”. I’m not even sure what the hell that is suppose to mean. I remember being both 30 and 60. They were quite different.
“Old dogs can’t learn new tricks”. Fuck you! First, that is not even true for canines. Old dogs can indeed be taught new tricks. Just as older men and women can be taught new things. Age has little to do with learning. If you are willing to learn, assuming that there is no age-associated disease condition, you can still learn at any age. And older people who have been life-long learners are actually better learners. And don’t call me an old dog!
Advantages of aging
Thanks to aging and experiencing life as they do so, older people have learned how to deal with social conflicts. They are better at dealing with people with various points of views. Dealing with people with different personalities. It is called experience. Put me in any situation with any type of person and I can likely handled it. “Been there, done that”.
Older people are better at managing their emotions. We are less impulsive. Better able to think things through rationally. Better decision makers. Less likely to take stupid risks. We probably did take those risks when we were younger. And paid the price for doing so. Wisdom is the reward for surviving our stupidity!
Older people have better social skills. We are generally happier with life.
Older people have figured out what makes them happy. Figured out what they don’t enjoy doing. Don’t feel social pressure to conform. If I don’t want to go to a party and I want to stay home and read a book instead, I have no problem in saying “no” to the party people and staying home and reading with no guilt. Older people are not as susceptible to peer pressure.
As I have written an earlier article about, older people are unfuckwithable. This is a huge advantage of aging.
Finally, studies (and my personal experience) have shown that sex improves with age. Experience matters just as much in the bedroom as it does in the workplace. What may have been lost in stamina, is more than made up for by experience. Seasoned lovers take their time, they are better at reading and complying with the needs of their partner, they enjoy the journey and the intellectual and emotional connection with their partner as much as they do the physical connection, they aren’t racing to their orgasm.
“Age is an issue of mind over matter, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” ~ Mark Twain