As I have explained here in the past, I didn't know 20 years ago when I began studying ageing that I would become an advocate for elders. A large part of what led me to that is ageism – what the late geriatrician who coined the term, Robert N. Butler, described in his foreward to the Encyclopedia of Ageism as being “pervasive, gross and subtle, and omnipresent.”
”It is found in the reduced delivery of services,” he continued, “time limits to mortgages, depiction in the media and by Madison Avenue, poor nursing homes, passed over promotion, and other prejudices in the workplace. “Age discrimination is present in our language and even in our families.”
Earlier this week, I ran across a short essay at Daily Kos written by someone identified only as Soprano who thinks ageism has a lot to do with Donald Trump's popularity among baby boomer men. Let him explain:
They (“We” I should say; I’m 64) have changed our society as we have gotten older, to our advantage.
“We’ve hit a wall, though. America’s love of youth. Notice how the elder members of any cast on t.v. are, at the most, in their 40s, usually in their 30s. Models for clothing advertisements are almost always young — not too many models of my age and size out there.
“Even AARP has embraced youth; now, their magazines are full of people in their 50s, not so much with older folks.
“The articles addressed towards them are usually about how they are falling apart and need help; not so much about the positives of growing older (and yes, there are positives). People over 70 are pitiful victims, doncha know?”
Soprano goes on to explain that he thinks this is why Trump supporters, mostly men in their 60s and 70s, are so irate. It is not the economy or immigration that has made them true believers so much as it is the cultural attack on their self-esteem.
”They have been emasculated,” Soprano continues, “and like little children, are throwing temper tantrums because no one is paying attention to them anymore.”
Soprano blames the predicament these men find themselves in on media in particular and society in general that are geared only toward young people (“We have sacrificed the wisdom of our elderly for the beauty of youth.”)
The prestige and power these men had in their middle years has been snatched away, says Soprano, and
”They don’t know where to lash out because of this societal problem.
“The real answer lies somewhere in giving these people their autonomy back and helping them find a sense of purpose. People who only worry...about themselves will never be happy people.
“Oh, and god forbid, if a WOMAN were to be elected President, that would just send them over the edge.”
I think there is some merit to this explanation – at least, in part. Boomers ruled the American world for so long – all the media told us so again and again – and none of them ever believed it would end.
What do you think?