While looking over a blog post just before publishing it a few days ago, I found myself thinking for a moment, “yeah, well – that’s just an old woman’s take” – the point being that no one would therefore care.
That thought was swiftly followed by “Whoa! Hold on there just a minute, cowgirl. What’s wrong with an old woman’s opinion and why shouldn’t it be taken seriously?” How could I, having ranted and railed here for two years against our ageist culture along with those who perpetrate and perpetuate it, reflexively surrender to a feeling of futility about the value of an elder opinion?
I had dismissed my own thoughts as unimportant based on my age.
It is a startling moment - if you run such a blog as Time Goes By and flatter yourself a defender of the rights of elders - to be confronted with your own, kneejerk ageism. And the question naturally follows: what other ageist beliefs and perceptions are lurking about in my mind unnoticed and unattended to?
The reason for the “slip” in thinking, of course, is the culture’s inherent bias against elders. Taught from the cradle, none of us is free of it effects.
Who pays attention these days what Jimmy Carter thinks; he’s an old man now, decades removed from power.
Who listens to Bill Moyers now that he’s an old man, so old he gave up his PBS program.
Who cares what Betty Friedan caused to happen for women. Young Wall Street mistresses of the universe types don’t even know her name and refuse to be labeled feminists.
There was a time when what these people said was front-page news. Their opinions once swayed beliefs and that led to public policy changes. But no one seriously listens to these people anymore because they committed the ultimate sin; they got old.
No one cares what old people think. They’re all going to be dead soon anyway. Or, as a recent TGB commenter who identified himself only as “bob,” baldly states:
“Fuck all the old fogues in this world. all they do is anything slow, boring or talk about the good old days. Live for today you miserable old shits!!!” [Spelling and grammar are bob’s.]
Until my inadvertent moment of clarity a couple of days ago, I had put only the most minimal thought to my own ageism or that of other elders. No one is completely free of bias. The important thing is to recognize it in ourselves and not let it keep us from doing the right thing.