That offending phrase, and offend it did, appeared in a group email, the group being a bunch of college classmates who pass around photos of get-togethers and nostalgia-based music recommendations. The context was a boating foray in which food, fun, and alcohol were dispensed, the latter “not like gin and juice at DKE but as fun as we 60+ers could manage.”
A university where I’ll be speaking in September is lining up co-sponsors, one of whom had a question for my colleague there. “He asks whether you present ageism as similar to racism and sexism,” she wrote me. “He mentioned that the seniors with whom he works are proud (of being senior citizens?), and I think he may be worried about the presentation making them feel like victims of prejudice. Have you run across this type of concern in your audiences?”
How Old is Too Old To Have Sex? was the title of a Huffington Post Live Blog that I took part in on June 14th. As I pointed out during the exchange, the question itself is profoundly ageist. We don’t ask whether people age out of singing, or eating ice cream, so why even pose the question when it comes to making love?
That’s the question that came in to Yo, Is This Ageist? a few days ago, and I’ve been banging my head against it ever since. Not that the question hadn’t come to mind long before, in particular the notion of of discriminating against a group you aspire to join, but the answer is far more complicated.
My inspiration for Yo Is This Ageist was the excellent Yo Is This Racist blog, where the post below made me laugh out loud. Swap out "ageist" for "racist" and "old people" for "black people" and it works just fine. I bet I'll get to use it soon.
So I made a Jesus joke in the presence of some racists, and one was like "hey, why is it ok to make fun of religion, but you always give me shit when I say something racist" So I said "because black people are real."
A few months ago, my daughter's girlfriend told me about a terrific blog called Yo, is this racist? Ask any question about race and get a straight answer, as long as you're prepared to be mocked or skewered. It serves an important purpose, plus it's hilarious. So I've started a companion blog: Yo, is this ageist?