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Committed to Empowering Old Lesbians
Old Lesbians
for Change

What is Ageism?

Ageism is a social disease.

Are you ageist?

Do you consider "young" a compliment and "old" a derogatory synonym for ugly, decrepit, out-of-date ("You don't look your age.")?

Do you speak/do for an Old Lesbian instead of letting her speak/do for herself and assume she needs help?

Do you view an Old Lesbian either as a burden or an icon, rather than as an equal with whom a reciprocal relationship is desirable?

Do you patronize a courageous Old Lesbian by trivializing her anger as "feistiness?" (Would you call Superman "feisty"?)

Do you categorize an outspoken Old Lesbian as "complaining," "difficult," or "crotchety?"

Do you assume that an Old Lesbian is asexual?

Are you unsupportive of an Old Lesbian looking for a partner, or disrespectful of an Old Lesbian's choice to be single?

Do you refrain from confronting ageist remarks because they are "not really meant that way?"

    Ageism by Mary M. Morgan, born 1925

    • The systematic discrimination and oppression of people solely because they are old.

    • The belief and practices that equate youth with health and old age with illness and disability, youth as beauty and old as ugly and aging as a disease and anti-aging as possible and necessary at any cost. Aging is not a disease.

    • Every living being is aging. Anti-aging is as impossible as anti-gravity. We all age at the same rate, one day older for every day lived.

    • Ageism creates a universal market for products, potions, and surgery. Ageism is cruel, affects employment health, self-esteem, income.

    • "You don't look your age," is not a compliment. The best age is the age you are.

    • Isn't everyone older than someone? Old is spelled O L D, not B A D

    • Ageism fosters distrust between age groups.

    • Most birthday cards reinforce ageism.

    • "Aging graceflily" aids passivity, discourages activism, promotes invisibility.

    • Ageism diminishes us all. Fight ageism, embrace longevity.

    Ageist greetings, remarks, responses and questions that all too common in U.S.A.

    • Good afternoon young lady, I'm Doctor Brown.

    • You are in pretty good health for your age.

    • Age is really just a state of mind.

    • You aren't old. You're young at heart.

    • You may be 72 but you still act young.

    • You must be very lonely at your age.

    • You don't still drive your car, do you?

    • Have you thought of including our group in your will?

    • Social Security is going to bankrupt the country.

    • To feel young again try this: (products, exercises, recipes, meditation, etc, etc.)

    • To stay young keep thinking young and associate with young people.

    • Oh, I know with all your experience you must be a really good cook.

    • I must be having "a senior moment".

    • I'm so glad you spoke up at the meeting. I like a feisty woman.

    • You certainly don't look like you're 68 years old.

    • You're only as old as you feel.

    • Anti-aging is an ageist concept.

    • Don't call yourself old. You're very youthful. You're young in spirit.

    • Anti-aging workshops, products, books, foods, supplements are ageist.

    • You shouldn't call yourself old. It's so depressing.

    • No one wants to live with just old people.

    • The Senior Center plans to hold a course named "Growing Old Gracefully" (Gracefully is a euphemism for invisibility, silence, docility, self-supporting, free of illness.)

    • You're not an old woman—you're youthful, fun and young in spirit.

    • Here's an exercise that will keep you young: First raise your arms . . . . . .

    • Learning new things is always more difficult for us as we get older.

    • When you were in your prime it was probably done differently.

    • Now that we are getting older we need to be more safety minded.

    • There's no excuse for gray hair these days. Clairol does an excellent job.

    • Blond is the new gray.

  • All of the "still" questions: Are you still swimming, still dancing, still playing bridge, still cooking, still gardening, still writing poetry, still giving blood, still politicking, organizing, etc. etc. etc.

Add others Mary M. Morgan age 81 Ohio OLOC 3-5-07

Responses, Corrections, Rejoinders, Education to Combat Ageist Concepts

  • Old is not a 4-letter word.

  • You don't look your age is an ageist comment

  • I do look my age. This is what 74 looks like.

  • Old is O.K. I'm fine with it. I hope you get to live a long time too.

  • I'm not trying to "pass" as young. I'm old and really quite fabulous.

  • It's been a long time since I was young. Now I'm glad to be old.

  • OLOC is named Old Lesbians Organizing for Change because we embrace our oldness

  • and we combat ageism wherever we find it.

  • Serenity is not my goal. I accept challenges daily.

  • I am not a "young woman". I am an old woman and I expect to be treated with respect and recognition of my many years.

  • Isn't everyone "older" than someone?

  • Do you know any child, man or woman who is not getting older?

  • If you "didn't really mean it that way" how did you mean it?

  • I'm not middle age now. Been there—done that.

  • Old is spelled O-L-D, not B-A-D.

  • Growing old is a privilege granted to few women in this world. I am deeply grateful.

  • Ageism creates an ever expanding profit making market of "staying-young" products for people who fear getting old.

  • Aging is not a disease. It is a natural component of being alive.

  • Every living being ages. Good health and youth are not synonymous.

  • Orthopedists set broken bones for more patients under the age of 24 than they do for patients over 65.

  • I am a very old woman and I cherish every year that I have been privileged to live.

  • I do not want any years taken away from me pretending that I am young.

  • Anti-aging is a denial of life force. It is a quite dehumanizing concept.

  • Labeling us a "model" or "an idol" or a "wise crone" is a way of distancing

  • old women from women of different ages making us "the other".

  • Don't assume we need help. Being available if asked for assistance is real sisterhood.

  • Growing old is a privilege granted to few women in this world. I am deeply grateful.

Mary M. Morgan, age 81
Ohio OLOC, 3-5-07

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"OLOC Demonstrates with Grandmothers Against the War, Oakland 2006." (photo by Cathy Cade

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