“This is a serious question, not trying to be inflammatory. I'm not yet an "elder," but I am beyond middle age (55). What are your specific objections to any of the quotes you cited? For the life of me, I couldn't find anything ageist or wrong with them.
“They seemed to reflect MY reality of aging, even though they were some of the more poignant/negative aspects -- and there are positives as well. If I say my body is past its prime of beauty, and that I have aches and pains, is that ageist? If I say I look around and find myself to be the oldest woman at work, and that bothers me, how is that ageist? To me, it just sounds honest.
“I truly am puzzled. But I'd love to hear your specific objections to each of these quotes, because I may just not have my consciousness sufficiently raised yet.”
Good question, Ann. There are two issues raised in your comment: one is the ageism question and the other is a difficulty in the nature of blogging. Let’s take them one at a time.
Ms. Paulson’s article that Crabby quoted last week is not unique – similar ones pour into my inbox every day from Google and newspaper alerts and I mention perhaps two or three percent of them over time.
Stories about the negatives of aging appear daily in newspapers and magazines and are repeated in ageist jokes by comedians, in sitcoms and in offensive remarks about elders in dramas on television and in movies. And the often repeated belief that elders are not only not creative, but cannot do the job – any job – as well as younger people is so widespread that is it accepted as truth from on high.
In addition, it is not possible to read a magazine or newspaper or watch television without seeing large numbers of advertisements and commercials for lotions “that will make your skin look young again” furthering the cultural dictum that the physical aspects of aging are abhorrent and must be hidden.
Add to that the consistent repetition by elders that they “don’t feel old” when what they mean is they feel healthy. By confusing good health with youth they reinforce the opposite – that age equals sickness.
The amount of negative information about aging in this youth-centric, age-phobic society is so overwhelmingly prevalent that any other perspective is drowned out. And so I give my small voice on this blog to the other side against a tsunami of negativity.
That is not to say that Time Goes By does not address the downside of getting old.
A Blogging Difficulty
Over nearly four years, much has been discussed here about the decline of aging, how to cope and make peace with waning capabilities and with the ultimate question of life that must be faced in our later years – our mortality. And there will be much more over time.
Those who are regular readers know that, but it is in the nature of blogging that new and occasional readers know only what is written today and so it appears, as may be so with Ann in this case, that I am nitpicking and ignoring the inevitable decline of aging which is not so. With the enormous contributions of commenters and guest bloggers, we cover a lot of territory in the area of aging – the good and the difficult.
I could, when writing such a piece as last week’s, link to old posts about the poignant aspects of aging, but a blog is not a book. Any blogger’s point of view builds up over time, through many daily posts and not every issue can be covered in every entry. So it is easy in reading one or a few posts to see only one side of a blogger.
As I note on my About page, I began this blog after six or seven years of studying aging without finding anything in books, magazines, newspapers, scholarly journals, medical research, documentaries, etc. that are not about decline, debility and disease, and it hasn’t changed much in the years since Time Goes By was launched.
Having worked in media all my life, I pay special attention to how aging issues are treated. Although there has been some improvement in media in recent years as marketers have realized that baby boomers are getting old and as a generation have a lot of money to spend, overall the attitude is condescending when it is not dismissive and even hostile.
Ms. Paulson’s story is offensive because is it lazy writing repeating what has been and continues to be said in thousands of other stories reinforcing the belief that there is nothing good about getting old.
Ageism is as mean and wrong as sexism and racism and all three are often subtle – and effective. One way to overcome prejudice is to consistently point it out when it occurs.
[Today at The Elderstorytelling Place, Ronni Prior tells a lovely story about her little boy when he was five years old in My Son, The Patriot.]