Aging and Ageism

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Aging and Ageism

Gender can be defined as the social and cultural differences which are in reference to the two sexes either male or female. Ageism on the other side is the discrimination or stereotyping an individual, or it can sometimes be a group based on their age. It can also be referred to as the unfair treatment based on an individual’s age. Aging is a biological process, and one cannot run away from it but again what it means to be young or old is just socially constructed (Woodward, p.178). This can also mean that cultures will always look at age with different meanings. Since aging is a biological process, it then means it is a lifelong thing and thus the importance of looking and understanding the views as well as the biases concerning age alongside gender.

Aging has always had a lot of impacts on society. People still differ in terms of the responsibilities assigned to them, social behavior and so on depending on their ages. Age is always treated differently depending on which society or rather in which culture. The transitions that take place during the aging period tend to be socially significant and thus the importance of age in the society.

One would be interested in knowing then if age is just but a number. This is a phrase that many people have always used either in self-defense or for personal gains. This can be seen as a polite gesture or a way of expressing how age does not have boundaries or any limitations (Margaret et al. p.24) It can be used to refer to old people to show them that, their age should not prevent them or rather keep them from achieving what they think they can meet or participate in.

Old age can be said to be a phase in life or ages that are nearing or surpassing life expectancy of a human being. This is sometimes true but again not always true as the life expectancy of people varies from person to person. People view the age of 65 to be old age and even it is at this age that people get their retirements. It’s seen to be an age where someone should be freed from many tasks and responsibilities as well. Many people at this age might be unable to fulfill some tasks although not all as some still can do the many tasks allocated to them showing that old age is not a barrier to accomplishing things.

Most of the celebrities always seem young even at their old ages. Most of the favorite stars have been seen stumbling upon the fountain of youth. They mostly do a lot of exercises as well as many other things that help them stay young (Thompson et al. p. 269). Age wise they are old, but they appear so young to be able to carry out their tasks without people looking at them as being so old.

Media has always influenced people regarding age, and it has as well been so biased. Media has contributed so much in the age discrimination, and it is also recognized as a potential source of many negative beliefs and views towards old people especially workers. It is a significant source of many negative stereotype images as they are distributed both via online and offline communications.

Ageism is so much reflected primarily by the use of the very common ageist language. It is a common way through which ageism has been reinforced and reflected in the culture. Ageist language includes any negative information, stereotype or belief about aging. These ageist languages can be found in many places like in healthcentres, workplace just but to name a few.

Poverty has a significant role to play in the way someone ages. Just as mentioned before, most celebrities seem ageless as they keep themselves fit and thus do not look so old (Jyrkinen et al. p.64). Age is a biological process and therefore is not affected by whether someone is poor or rich, but again the two will always have an influence on how one looks.

It is quite evident that most people who are deemed poor or rather of the low class get old faster than those who are wealthy or rather of high class. Companies have contributed so much in the growth of stereotype as well gender discrimination as it is so hard for one to tell whether employer’s reaction which in any case would be hiring, firing, promoting and the age discrimination really motivated many others. Employers are really not allowed to do any activity within their powers based on age discrimination, but this has always happened as it becomes so hard to differentiate between good motives as well as ill ones among the employers (González, p. 36). They are encouraged to make their decisions based on whether someone can perform a specific task better than another or as required of them.

There are different signs of age discrimination in workplaces as mentioned below:-

When older workers are being fired and being replaced by younger workers. These older workers are sometimes given or offered buyouts.

One can also be reassigned to some uncomfortable as well as unpleasant duties which might not have been the case before.

In some workplaces, you may start hearing some unpleasant or what we may call tacky comments about your age.

One also can stop getting raises as others continue getting theirs.

Some people find it essential to look younger than they actually are supposed to be. Many people do this to gain attention as they have the notion that the younger they are, then the more attention they are likely to get. The older you are people believe the closer you are to death. Therefore, people strive to look young since it is a sign of being far from death. Young people have a lot of opportunities ahead of them, and therefore, some people want to look young to encourage themselves and make them feel they still have lots of opportunities ahead of them (Thompson et al. 263). Regardless of the media being in the frontline in promotion of discrimination and stereotype both online and offline for fun, they have also benefited from the same. In advertisements, for instance, older people are used to represent specific products specifically.

It can be summed up that, older people as used in the media are always used to bring out precise meanings. The meaning can either be positive or negative. For instance, when used to bring out the issue of history as well reliability, it works out well. On the other side, when they are used to depict some negative things that come along with the issue of old age, then the media clearly involves itself in the age stereotype or discrimination.

It is quite alarming that, most prisons these days are filled up by aged men and women who can barely climb stairs, who are suffering from chronic illnesses and those who are dying. Findings have it that, most of these aged people have stayed in prison for a while. Being interested in the number of these aged people who started their prison period at their old age, then one gets to understand that the number of the aged is almost double the number of the young ones in prison (Milner et al. p.25). Does it mean people at old age commit more crimes than the young ones? Some of the old inmates are held in prison unnecessarily as they can cause no harmful threat to the society and they have already served part of their period. It is seen that most of the rights of the aged are quite violated and no one really cares what happens to them next.

Women and especially old women in the media are seen as a representative of not being able as they were before creating now the stereotype of old age as well as a gender stereotype. This process of aging is not represented any positively by the media especially aging women whereby the media even goes to an extra mile of also showcasing some anti-aging products which are seen to be a way of reversing the unwanted old age in the society. In most women magazines or even in the Television advertisements, pictures of old women are used, and the anti-aging products are then said to have been used to brush off the old age and new looks are seen (Woodward, p.167). This is a bad way of representing women and most specifically old or rather aged women in society.

There is also a better way of representing women in the media. We have seen in some programs or in some adverts, old women are seen as energetic just as the young people and are also seen not just sitting down and watching things happen but also taking up roles. This is a right way of representing women as it creates a good picture in public for women and even the issue of gender stereotype is avoided as a whole.

It also helps so much in giving a more realistic and well-structured portrait of older people. Representation of women has really changed as well as developed over time. This has happened to reflect the many social changes that have occurred as well as the cultural changes that have occurred in society over time. This representation of women is basically based on how society expects women to behave or how men views them (Joyce et al. p.172). Some of these representations have always conformed to the expectations of the society whereas others are there in the media to challenge them.

It is the positive representation that every other person and especially the women always want to see as they do not represent them as the weak vessels in the society but are seen as heroines and not just the victims, are seen as being so active and not just being passive vessels as perceived and showcased by most media.

Many negative effects come along with the issue of aging and ageism. Ageism has very serious mental as well as physical health effects. It is seen in our entire society that young people are being told that getting old is bad and the old aged people are seen as unwanted, old-fashioned, being useless and also being a burden in the society. Being older and at the same time being a female is a double problem.

One now has to struggle with both being old which is being ready to face age stereotype as well as being a woman which may be associated with gender discrimination. Ageism has gone to the extent of being portrayed by the health care providers. When an aged person goes to the hospital, they tend to be so quick in guessing that it is because of their age that they have such problems and sometimes they do not even look at any possible causes of the problem. In a case where they are supposed to share something like the use of technology, they rarely do it with the assumption that the old people would shy off and not be interested in listening.

This is a discrimination of old age as one is supposed to make everyone equally and if they are ailing, carry out the required procedures without the issue of assumption as done to the old people. One is left wondering why in such an era where some things like prejudice or even racism are not tolerated, why then should something like ageism be tolerated at all. It has become so apparent that ageism is there and no one really cares to fight it off as it has become a daily meal that many people have learned to live with.

The old people have also learned how to deal with stereotypes that come hand in hand with the aging issue. They choose to die inside as no one cares on how they feel or rather what happens to them when such stereotypes get to them (Potts et al. p.317). When people start approaching mid 30’s, they start feeling insecure and afraid as already theso-called ageism is soon going to catch up with them.

Rejecting stereotypes helps one to avoid some things or rather reduce the issue of developing psychological problems and also preventing the physical decline. The public, in general, should be educated on the myth of aging and be told that it is a process that cannot be avoided at all. Language has also caused a lot of pain to the old people, and therefore, people should mind the kind of language they use to address the old people in the society as it kills them if not physically it does kill them internally.

Physical and social support can also be reinforced to show that old people have a purpose. Health physicians should also check on their biases and ensure that they deal with the aged accordingly. When the aged are viewed positively, it helps boost their physical and mental well-being (Ringa et al. p. 2406). It also creates a good society that does not deem them as being irrelevant in society. To all those who tend to be victims of promoting ageism without knowing it like the journalists, should then try to analyze everything they do to ensure that it does not encourage ageism.

In conclusion, just as the society disapproves racism, tribalism, and prejudice, and so should ageism be disapproved as well. The society should thus create an environment that is free from ageism and that which views the old people as necessary as just like any other person in society.

Works Cited

Gatling, Margaret, Jane Mills, and David Lindsay. “Sex after 60? You’ve got to be joking! Senior sexuality in comedy film.” Journal of aging studies 40 (2017): 23-28.

González, César. “Age-graded sexualities: The struggles of our ageing body.” Sexuality & Culture 11.4 (2007): 31-47.

Joyce, Kelly, and Meika Loe. “A sociological approach to ageing, technology and health.” Sociology of health & illness32.2 (2010): 171-180.

Jyrkinen, Marjut, and Linda McKie. “Gender, age and ageism: experiences of women managers in Finland and Scotland.” Work, employment and society 26.1 (2012): 61-77.

Milner, Colin, Kay Van Norman, and Jenifer Milner. “The media’s portrayal of ageing.” Global Population Ageing: Peril or Promise? (2012): 25.

Potts, Annie, et al. “‘Sex for life’? Men’s counter‐stories on ‘erectile dysfunction’, male sexuality and ageing.” Sociology of Health & Illness 28.3 (2006): 306-329.

Ringa, Virginie, et al. “Women’s sexuality: from aging to social representations.” The journal of sexual medicine 10.10 (2013): 2399-2408.

Thompson, Ashley E., et al. “Young adults’ implicit and explicit attitudes towards the sexuality of older adults.” Canadian Journal on Aging/La Revue canadienne du vieillissement 33.3 (2014): 259-270.

Woodward, Kathleen. “Performing age, performing gender.” NWSA journal (2006): 162-189.