Monday, April 11, 2016

My feelings on ageism

Told you guys that I'd eventually manage to screw this challenge up royally. Heh.

I tend not to write much anymore, and I tend to write even less on the weekends. It is what it is, it just makes me terrible at following through with anything like this.

Here's the list: The Writer Circle's 30 day writing challenge.

I'm supposed to tell you my feelings on ageism today, which is generally defined as discriminatory treatment towards a group of people on the basis of age. Though it is usually used in terms of older people, it can apply to any circumstance where a person is stereotyped because of their age. 

Anyone who has been around this blog for any length of time can probably figure out that I'm not a fan of most of the -isms. Age is really just a number as it is, and our experiences in life are far more indicative of our knowledge base in any one area than the number of times we've orbited the sun could ever be. 

Ageism, like most of the various -isms is firmly rooted in assumptions and stereotypes, which are rooted likely in the biases of those people who first started to develop them, which were in turn likely began because of some ulterior motive. 

In other words, ageism exists because something about people of a certain age threatens someone else in some way.

That threat can be the age itself, though that likely isn't the case most of the time. There might certainly be circumstances of categorical ineligibility based on age, either at the young or old end of the spectrum, where people are forbidden from doing something solely based on age, like driving or voting or enlisting in the military or working in certain jobs. These limits are quite arbitrary and may indeed be irrelevant for measuring an individual's ability to do something, but usually exist because there is some larger reason at play. On the young side of the spectrum, we want to ensure maturity in decision making presumably. At the older end, we might want to guarantee that the training necessary to work in a certain field will usually result in a person being able to work a certain number of years to justify said training. So we just assign categorical limits, fairly or not, because of some larger reason.

Usually, though, there isn't some pseudo-legitimate reason for the bias. Most of the time, we are talking about straight up assumptions made about people solely because of their age, which sucks. 

Have you ever had someone assume you don't have the necessary experience or expertise in an area just because you were young?

Have you ever had someone assume you aren't up to date on new advancements just because you are older than they are?

Then you've dealt with it. Almost all of us either have or will deal with it at some point.

I think it's part of the human condition, particularly in our youth-obsessed society. Women in particular have to deal with this more than men ever do. Men become more distinguished as they age.....women just get old, so says everything media. I mean, seriously...have you ever seen an ad for women's hair color where the goal is to keep some of the gray? Hell no. We're supposed to cling to our youth desperately with neck creams and wrinkle filler and botox treatments. 

But then, that's an issue of multifaceted bias, which is just reality. It's all intersectional, and I don't think you can really just talk about ageism without talking about the biases that go right along with it. 

I digress. 

I was always on the young side because I skipped a grade and grew up resenting my age most of the time until I was finally old enough to do whatever it was that everyone around me was able to do. I've been the youngest mom in a playgroup and will be one of the oldest once my youngest starts school. These days, I'm on the other side of it, as someone who recently started working in a field where I'm definitely on the older side. Let's just say the pub quiz universe isn't dominated by women pushing 40 with a herd of children. I'm an outlier, if there ever was one. I've seen both sides, for sure.

Luckily, I'm still hilarious at my age.

Get off my lawn.

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