Friday, April 25, 2014

So Young



There was a time when I would be flattered. Not anymore.

I was leaving an older friend's house today. I dropped off something and stayed a while to chat. She gets lonely. She has kidney disease, genetic. Nothing anybody can do even though her sons offered their kidneys years ago. A transplant wouldn't help.

I was out the door, heading down her path when I overheard her say loudly to another friend:

"My gawd, she looks so young, are you sure she's as old as she says she is?"

My awareness of ageism is at a high level. I see it everywhere, even coming from other elders with their "cute" posts on FB, you know the ones: as if seniors are all one brick short of a load, one bulb short of a lighthouse. Some are more offensive than others and poke fun at elders' sexuality, teeth, weight, forgetfulness, clothing, incontinence. You name it. When I address this with them and say: put an aboriginal in place of that elder, put a negro there in that cartoon or a gay person. See how unfunny it is now?

Ah, they say, we can poke fun at ourselves, can't we?

Erm, no, it's not funny. All these "innocent" little jokes and innuendoes and othering leads to abuse. It's called discrimination. And ageism. You're telling the whole world out there that all elders are feeble, simple and stupid and can't take care of themselves. And those "funny" jokes reinforce that perception. Aging is to be feared. Anti-aging is an enormous industry - Botox, Viagra, hair transplants, teeth transplants, skin abrasions, liposuction, pills, cosmetics.

And if you'd done all the research I've done on elder abuse, you would GET it. It starts with the "Depends" jokes and then moves down the hill to all elders are smelly and stupid and are one big joke - giving those who "care" for them the right to take over their lives, their possessions, their bank accounts, etc., and they'd be too stunned to notice.

So no, I am not flattered when others call me "young" for my age or OMG I'm jogging, or I'm writing, or meeting friends who are at the other end of the age spectrum for dinner or planning new adventures.

This is what an elder looks like and behaves like.



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31 Comments:

Blogger Doreen Bates Zakem said...

I agree! I have heard a few times, you look good for your age or your don't look ___. and I usually say..... well what am I suppose to look like? lol

Fri Apr 25, 05:58:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Anonymous nick said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I'm so tired of all those negative "jokes" about getting old, forgetting things, losing your marbles etc. It's about time we were either more positive about being older or just didn't regard age as some major issue.

What's the difference between snide jokes about getting old and snide jokes about women? They're equally offensive and demeaning.

Fri Apr 25, 06:21:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Cape Cod Kitty said...

BRAVO!!

Fri Apr 25, 09:58:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Irene said...

Yes, it is easy to fall into that kind of talk because it is expected of us once we have crossed that line. I will cross it kicking and screaming, so not at all.

Fri Apr 25, 10:44:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Marc Leavitt said...

First they joked about other cultures and beliefs:

Then they joked about women,
fat people, short people, stupid people, poor people, lame peole, minorities, sex types, old people.

Then they looked in the mirror and stopped laughing.

The joke was on them

Sat Apr 26, 06:50:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Anonymous Grannymar said...

Well, I accept having my knuckles rapped big time for reproducing what I consider as funny stories about the young, old and middle aged. I mean no harm. In my 67 years, I have seen life in the raw, dealt with situations that would make you weep, but my way to deal with them is through humour. It works fro this ould biddy.

Sat Apr 26, 09:56:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Doreen:
Excellent response - gets others re-evaluating their often thoughtless words.
XO
WWW

Sat Apr 26, 12:44:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Nick:

Completely demeaning and belittling.

XO
WWW

Sat Apr 26, 12:45:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Kitty:

:D

XO
WWW

Sat Apr 26, 12:45:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Irene:

Good plan!!

XO
WWW

Sat Apr 26, 12:46:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Marc:

Oh well said, my friend, well said!

I am reminded of those signs in New York at the turn of the last century:

"No Irish or Jews need apply."

Re-inforced by the jokes about their filth.

XO
WWW

Sat Apr 26, 12:47:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

GM:

I love you dearly but have I raised your awareness of the perpetuation of any such stereotypes even a notch?

XO
WWW

Sat Apr 26, 12:49:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Anonymous Grannymar said...

To be honest, I no more see the need for censorship of the stories I share, than the idea I should meditate, swim, do yoga AND read a book every single day, in order to be fulfilled. If I was to do all that, I would end up starving and smelly to boot.

Sat Apr 26, 04:07:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Anonymous Grannymar said...

Sorry, but the first two posts I read today were telling folk what to do or not do with regard to blogging and face book. We all have our own road to travel and if we were all the same, life would become very boring.

Sat Apr 26, 04:14:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Maggie May said...

Yes I suppose you are right. We older people are often seen in a poor light and sometimes seem to be invisible.
However, I feel it is better to laugh at ourselves than to cry .... and....... they will get to our age too and then they'll know what it feels like.
What is the saying? What goes around comes around.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Sat Apr 26, 05:00:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Just pleased
where I am on this pathway of life. A lot of lifestyle
experienced
and this one is the best
whether I look young or old
really do not care...

Sat Apr 26, 06:39:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find negative references to any group of people pretty sad. I was just talking to two men the other day, one older and one young enough to be my son, about how one begins to feel marginalized at somewhere around the age of 55. I really did not think much about my age until then. Now I am very much aware of it even though I work with a very age-diverse bunch of people. Poking fun at oneself for some individual thing is fine (in my case, I am very clumsy and prefer to laugh rather than cry about it), but to poke fun at oneself in terms of belonging to a group further erodes the dignity of that group and further stigmatizes that group.

Sat Apr 26, 10:42:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Anonymous Rummuser said...

Bravo! Applauding and bowing.

Sun Apr 27, 09:57:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

GM:
I am sorry you feel that you were targeted. Not at all. I was referring to an onslaught of emails of "cartoons" and "Jokes" marginalizing and targeting elders as incompetent and stupid. I get them often enough to make my brain explode.
This has nothing to do with censorship.
My point was if these so-called "jokes" targeted the handicapped or negroes of women in such a way they would be completely unfunny.
All I'm asking for is more awareness of the dignity of other humans.
And my sense of humour is intact. I love poking fun at myself and the ridiculousness of the human condition.
XO
WWW

Sun Apr 27, 11:46:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Maggie:

As long as the humour is self directed. Of course.

But seniors/elders are not a monolith and are as varied as the other strata of society.

XO
WWW

Sun Apr 27, 11:48:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

OWJ:

Hallelujah Ernestine :)

XO
WWW

Sun Apr 27, 11:48:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Anon:

Thanks for putting it so succinctly. I poke fun at myself all the time.

XO
WWW

Sun Apr 27, 11:49:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Ramana:

*Bow back* thank you!

XO
WWW

Sun Apr 27, 11:50:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Secret Agent Woman said...

Absolutely. And the older I get, the more I agree.

Sun Apr 27, 05:15:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

SAW:
I guess I am more and more reminded of the horrible "Oirish" jokes I would hear in England when I was a child. Funny I'd forgotten about that until now. Awareness is such a gift.
XO
WWW

Mon Apr 28, 02:45:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Government Funded Blogger said...

Well said WWW!!I had to put down a young relative about a month ago.She was talking about a business dealing with an elderly man and casually mentioned that he had that old man smell.I said in loud voice Hey I'm an old man do I stink also? It embarrassed her.

Ya gotta nip the discriminageism in the bud wherever ya find it!

Tue Apr 29, 04:02:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Hattie said...

There is a lot less ageism in Hawaii than other places I have lived. The decent attitude towards elders comes from the Asian and Native Hawaiian cultures. I just want to live my life and do what I like without having my age pointed out to me all the time, and here this is possible. I don't want to be treated like an "other" or outsider on account of my age.
But I don't resist things like using the senior center facilities either. I really don't mind being old, just hope for some more good years.

Wed Apr 30, 02:25:00 AM GMT-2:30  
Blogger The Poet Laura-eate said...

Quite right too WWW. More power to your elbow. Do they have a branch of Grey Pride in your neck of the woods?

Thu May 01, 04:05:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

GFB:
Thanks for nipping that one in the bud and sharing the awareness of these hurtful remarks.

XO
WWW

Fri May 16, 04:10:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Yes Hattie I agree the aboriginal cultures revere elders for the most part.

XO
WWW

Fri May 16, 04:11:00 PM GMT-2:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Laura:
Even though our demographics have a majority of elders we do not have grey power. Go figure!
XO
WWW

Fri May 16, 04:11:00 PM GMT-2:30  

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