By Ashton Applewhite
Ageism is discrimination and stereotyping on the basis of age. We experience it anytime someone assumes we’re too old for something, instead of finding out who we are and what we’re capable of, or too young. Ageism cuts both ways. All -isms are socially constructed ideas—racism, sexism, homophobia—and that means we make them up, and they can change over time.
We are all worried about some aspect of getting older—running out of money, getting sick, ending up alone—and those fears are legitimate and real. But what never dawns on most of us is that the experience of reaching old age can be better or worse depending on the culture in which it takes place. It is not having a vagina that makes life harder for women. It’s sexism. It’s not loving a man that makes life harder for gay guys. It’s homophobia. And it is not the passage of time that makes getting older so much harder than it has to be. It is ageism. …
Ashton Applewhite is the author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism and is the voice of the Yo, Is This Ageist? blog. She is also the author of Cutting Loose: Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well and was a clue on Jeopardy! as the author of the mega bestseller series, Truly Tasteless Jokes. (Who is Blanche Knott?)
Photo credit: Ethan Prater via a Creative Commons license.