The Blizzard of '06
The New Ageism: Boomer Chic

The Ageist Media

category_bug_ageism.gif It’s official. There is no one in the U.S. older than 60 who matters anymore. In a period of just three months, Newsweek has published its second cover story on baby boomers, this time titled “Sex and the Single Boomer.”

In tandem with the recently-published half dozen books on the joys of elder sex, the story reports that boomers are going at it like bunny rabbits. And, ever in need of reassuring themselves they are the first to do anything, they’ve ditched the three-date rule:

"At our age," says [51-year-old Diane] Barna, "if sex presents itself, if you're comfortable with your partner, why wait for three dates? Just go for it."

Mainstream media has never reported a social phenomenon for which they can't find a downside, but this time there is a serious consequence to all this coupling:

“Though single boomers are having sex regularly, only 39 percent invariably use protection, according to the AARP study. ‘To me, those are pretty alarming figures,’ says Linda Fisher, AARP's research director…The number of new HIV infections among older women is rising rapidly: between 1998 and 2000, women's share of AIDS cases among those 50 and older nearly doubled, from 8.9 percent to 15 percent.”

Although I count many boomers among my friends and acquaintances, I have lost all patience with them as a group. Anyone who’s gotten to age 50 without knowing the importance of preventing transmission of HIV is probably still wondering where their kids came from. These people still aren’t grownups.

In keeping with their extended adolescence it seems, according to Newsweek, women boomers have exhausted the sexual stamina of their male counterparts and are going for younger guys. In a remarkably shallow example of painting an entire gender with one brush, 49-year-old Kim Cattrall who, as Samantha, flaunted her boy toy on the HBO television series, Sex in the City, has adopted that fictional preference in real life:

“After playing a sexually adventurous character, Cattrall found it hard to have a relationship with a man her own age because she thought they were trying to compete with Samantha. A younger man, she says, doesn't feel that need to outdo her. ‘The thing I really enjoy,’ she says, ‘is that I can show him my world and what I think about something. He's not closed down.’”

Come on, you boomer men reading this - speak up for yourselves. There was a time when women complained about men with this kind of attitude toward women their age.

But love - even companionship - is hard enough to find, so far be it from me to object to it whatever disparate ages the partners may be. But, says Newsweek few of these boomers are looking for either in their approaching dotage:

“In a recent AARP study, only 14 percent of women said their most important reason for dating was to find someone to live with or marry, compared with 22 percent of men.”

Although it is dangerous to take seriously such lightweight media stories as this, boomers will be boomers, I suspect, desperately grabbing at remnants of youth unto death. What I most object to is the media’s and researchers’ apparent belief that anyone older than the baby boomers is dead. For decades, old age was considered an extension of adulthood and not worthy of study. Now, even though average life expectancy in the U.S. is about 77, those 17-plus years of life - yes, active life in most cases - beyond the oldest boomers are ignored.

Pre-boomers are not the same as boomers. Our behavior, needs and desires are different and if researchers and reporters had a lick of sense, they’d look at the 60-plus generations too if for no other reason than to figure out how to deal socially, culturally and economically with those 78 million boomers when they reach elderhood.

Ageism is alive and well - it’s just shifted forward a decade or so.

Comments

"Anyone who’s gotten to age 50 without knowing the importance of preventing transmission of HIV is probably still wondering where their kids came from."

This had me falling over laughing. But really, it is sad isn't it. The whole concept that anyone (male or female) would obviously prefer a younger partner is a part of the whole insiduous attitude. As far as I can see, it's a social stigma to have a partner your own age these days, regardless of what age you are. :P

I find women of my age group (I am 57) to be attractive and seductive. A sane man (and woman) takes precautions before having sex.

Aww, Ronni, wouldn't life be dull without us Booming fools?

Besides, foolish actions and ignorance seems an affliction of many generations.

But, it is true that "my" generation will thrust our fists against the post and still insist we see no wrinkled ghost.

I'm so relieved...or something. I come here everyday thinking I'm about to be admitted into that respected enclave of elderhood. Now I find out I won't know what's it's like to be a REAL elder for another 10 years or more. I guess 50 is the new 30.

thank you, thank you, ronni, for shining the spot on the HIV-over-50 problem. those who think everyone that age should know about STDs, clearly is generalizing from his/her own small circle. the statistics tell us that divorced/widowed women are very much at risk.

50 is the new 30. Hope you have a great valentines day in your snow. Any nibbles on the sale of your place? I guess they got snow in Maine, too--yes? I haven't visited for a week; have to go back and catch up.

I was hoping that the Boomers would be looking to us pre-Boomers for direction. Guess Not...another theory shot to hell.

Oh, you would love what happened to me today, Ronni. I'm waiting in line at Panda Express for lunch, a woman about my age in front of me, and these two 40-something men behind me are having a discussion about how they can get away with not hiring a woman over 40 without being charged with age discrimination. I gave them a glare and shook my head, but I really felt like laying into them about admitting to crimes in public, especially with older women right there in front of them!

Not only is the ageism rampant, the sexism is as well. Women over 40 are extremely discriminated against in our society - and now they want to tell us how to have sex, too? The media in this country can just go to hell for adding to the rampant discrimination, sexism, and ageism we all experience.

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