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Old Lesbians Organizing for Change


Ageism in Action

What is ageism, really? We give simple examples here, but to really understand, you have to see it in action. To that end we have started a collection of some examples that we have seen around. They were described in the Dec. 2007 issue of The Reporter and are shared here to be a jumping off point for you to send us examples that you happen upon as you live your life. You might find them in the newspaper, on TV, in your neighborhood, at your doctor's office, on a bus or at your favorite social gathering place. The more examples we see, the better we will all understand it. Help us fill this page with examples. Send your contributions to

You will find an archive of earlier examples here.

Professional Research

To help you get a broader understanding of ageism, we include this link to an award winning professional psychologist's work and teaching in this area. This is not the only information out there, but is one good overall description of the problem to help us get started.

Ageism Example #16

Voters Seem OK With Ageism

Did you know that according to the Pew survey, only 4% of voters say they would be "less likely" to vote for a black candidate, compared with 11% for a woman, while 50% said they would be less likely to vote for someone "in their 70s." The New York Times reported on this finding and found that "while some voters may be reluctant to admit that they will not cast a ballot for a black or a woman, larger numbers are not at all shy about voicing reservations about voting for an older presidential candidate." Check out the whole New York Times article.

Ageism Example #15

Ageism Alive and Well in Ireland

A recent article in an Irish newspaper told of a doctor who was being called to answer for routinely removing women's ovaries and wombs when it wasn't called for medically. Despite what appears to be an honest and admirable effort to deal with this issue, the governing bodies have decided to restrict the right to seek justice to women who were under the age of 40 at the time. It would appear once a women passes 40 years of age, performing unnecessary surgery is acceptable. Read more

Ageism Example #14

What About People Over 64?

A woman in Prince George, British Columbia wrote her local paper challenging their reporting about people in the community "between the ages of 18 and 64 who have education beyond the secondary level." She pointed out that "if the assumption is that those over 64 don't contribute to the economy, ageism is again apparent."

Ageism Example #13

Speak Up! Healthy Aging?

A woman wrote her local newspaper in Kansas expressing her dismay to find that the paper had featured an article on the front page that focused on staying youthful looking. In her letter to the editor, the woman took the paper to task for allowing Botox, hair dye and cosmetic surgery to be protrayed as "healthy aging." She went on to challenge everyone to Google ageism and "learn about the socially accepted practice of discrimination against a group of people we will all eventually belong to: the older adult." Read the entire letter.

Ageism Example #12

Book Entitled How Not to Look Old

Author Charla Krupp goes to great lengths to explain how people who are "aging" now aren't going to do it like their predecessors. They aren't going to fade away, sail into the sunset or spend their days playing golf. And above all, they are not going to look old! Natural aging processes are termed "icky things" and her examples are things like age spots, crow's feet, gray hair, saggy boobs, etc. And, of course, every woman wants to look Y&H (younger and hipper) as opposed to looking like an OL (old lady). This book has been heavily promoted on talk shows and excerpts have shown up in dozens of publications. See what you think.

Ageism Example #11

In an interesting turn of events, the attorney for a woman who has been in prison for attempted murder for decades, pleads she be allowed to go free now that she's "pretty close to becoming an old woman." We bet you'll remember this one even if the perspective is from Down Under.



Ageism Example #10

Submitted by Jan Griesinger, 65

Look what Jan Griesinger found in her mailbox! Given all the negative connotations associated with something touted as an "elixir," it's surprising Avon has chosen to refer to an ageist product as an Age Repair Elixir!

Ageism Example #9

Spilsbury Catalog:  Open a recent copy of the Spilsbury catalog, or happen upon their website, and you may notice that this company seems to find Grannies using walkers or wheelchairs an easy target for ageist humor. Here's the page that they think is so funny.

Ageism Example #8

Too Old to be Trusted: It may be hard to feel very sorry for Pat Robertson when he is attacked in the press, but this letter to the editor reflects what, too often, is the general opinion about old people in our society. Click here to read a letter that appeared in the Tuscaloosa News.

Ageism Example #7

Brava! to the writer of this letter to the editor.

While we don't have the article that prompted this letter to the editor, it apparently focused on ways to keep yourself looking young. Check it out and see what you think.

Ageism Example #6

Disney: Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmations, Ursula in The Little Mermaid and The Wicked Queen in Snow White: All old, crotchety, mean and unattractive. Is Disney contributing to ageism in our culture? Click here to read more on this subject.

Ageism Example #5

Suicide:  According to several studies, the elderly are one of the highest risk groups for suicide. Yet this risk appears to be of little concern social and health services. Read more about that issue here.

Ageism Example #4

submitted by Sharon Raphael, 66

Rush Limbaugh Hits Bottom Attacking Hillary Clinton for her Age

Rush Limbaugh's column and radio show transcript Dec. 18, starts with the headline: "Does Our Looks-Obsessed Culture Want to Stare At An Aging Woman?" He goes on to ask after a few paragraphs, "So the question is this: Will this country want to actually watch a woman get older before their eyes on a daily basis?"

The same day The Drudge column headlines with a picture of Hillary looking old with wrinkles and other lines on her face. There is a double standard applied, as the male candidates have not been subjected to the same close-up scrutiny regarding their facial markings or wrinkles. This thinking is the
pits and the most sexist and ageist comment I have seen so far in regard to the campaign for President. But interesting, as I think others have been subtly attacking Hillary for the same reason.

I doubt most of America listens to anything Limbaugh says. However, the headline does have a touch of truth which is that Americans are obsessed with age. Something to ponder and fight againstblatant ageism directed at a presidential candidate. The thing of note about Limbaugh's obvious ageism is that when he says everyone is ageist, he pointedly leaves out any way of countering ageism or any public way of dealing with it; instead implying there is no way to prevent the country from looking
at Hillary in this negative way. It is like saying yes, this country is terribly racist and there is no way out. And now I am going to emphasize the fact by saying again how much people will resent that Hillary is aging. If it were racism, he would emphasize again how much the country would not accept a person of a different race. He is clearly ageist and/or using ageism in the worst of ways to make his point.

Here is the transcript of his show so that you can read it for yourself. And, after you've read it, look here for Ellen Goodman's take on it in her column on Dec. 22.


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