Sachse Bond Leaderboard

Opinion: Ageism in America needs to be challenged

by | Feb 28, 2019 | Opinion

You might recall the films, The Invisible Man, starring Claude Rains, and The Invisible Woman, starring Virginia Bruce. These works of fiction entertained audiences in the 1940s. But, it’s the 21st Century and it turns out invisible people really exist.

“They live among us in the guise of senior citizens,” according to Dan Weber, president of AMAC, a powerful senior advocacy organization.

San Francisco-based psychologist and psychotherapist Tamara McClintock Greenberg put it this way in an article for Psychology Today: “Why people are increasingly treated as if they’re invisible as they age (more prevalent it seems, for women) is curious, though perhaps not surprising. We live in a youth-fixated culture where people are afraid to age and to be vulnerable to growing older; where ideals about attractiveness are oriented around those with young, healthy bodies.”

Groups such as AMAC, the Association of Mature American Citizens, exist and thrive, in part, because the fast growing population of senior citizens in the U.S. is determined to be seen and heard, says Weber. “We are alive and well and, particularly when it comes to ageism, we are not going to take it anymore.”

Weber is not alone in his quest to eradicate the scourge of ageism in America. Author Ashton Applewhite, for example, has devoted herself to what might be called a movement to exposing and eliminating discrimination based on age. Among other things, she created a Web site, Old School, to be an ageism research resource.

“The messages are everywhere that old is not as good as young. We are ageist any time we make an assumption about a person or a group of people on the basis of how old they appear to be. Ageism has not been challenged in the culture at large,” says Applewhite. And, according to her, that is as unacceptable as racism, sexism and any other form of discrimination.

You might say that Applewhite is on a crusade and her focus is on the youngest members of society because research shows that prejudices such as ageism are formed early in life. And, her Old School Web site is designed to provide teachers with anti-ageism tools and aids allow them to create a positive view of growing old.

Dr. John C. Cavanaugh, a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, also believes that youngsters need to be provided with a more affirmative attitude toward the elderly early on in the classroom. “Young people have a skewed view or even a blank spot when it comes to this population. From pre-school to high school, a lot of students don’t get any exposure to issues of aging.”

AMAC’s Weber is in full agreement with Applewhite and Cavanaugh that we need to teach our kids to not only respect their elders but to also see them as productive members of society with something to contribute. But, he says that Hollywood has a lot to answer for when it comes to promoting a dismissive attitude toward older Americans.

And he cites a study conducted by Humana and the University of Southern California that concluded Hollywood ridicules seniors in the movies.

Films have an impact on how our children view life, in general, Weber points out. “Thus, the negative portrayal of ageing in the movies and on TV has the insidious effect of making discrimination based on age not so cruel, but rather ‘cool’ in the minds of youngsters.”

 

For more stories like this, see the Feb. 28 issue or subscribe online.

 

From the Association of Mature American Citizens

0 Comments

Related News

What grandmothers do

What grandmothers do

My grandmother made the best oatmeal. It was so good, it even tasted good cold. She made it each morning for my grandfather who always left some for any of his grandchildren who wanted it. I always did. There were no microwaves, so oatmeal was made on the stove. And...

read more
Mow Mow Mow

Mow Mow Mow

By John Moore When I was a kid, I was the designated (fill in the blank). If the TV antenna needed turning to pick up Star Trek or Dragnet, I was the designated antenna turner. If the channel needed changing, I was the designated remote control. When the ubiquitous...

read more
Choose to be loved

Choose to be loved

A verse that has been on my mind lately is John 3:16. If you’re familiar with the bible at all, you probably know this verse… For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have...

read more
Ravages of drought not far from Texans’ minds

Ravages of drought not far from Texans’ minds

The trials of drought weave throughout the story of Texas in tales of devastation that had lasting effects on the families, businesses, and communities that survived them. These withering dry times prompted Texans to make big changes to shore up their water...

read more
Finding hope in heartache

Finding hope in heartache

I recently received a call no one ever wants to receive. My sister had been horrifically murdered at her home in South Carolina. I was stunned as I tried to process a statement that didn’t make sense to me. The next step of calling other family members to inform them...

read more
We’re global now

We’re global now

No matter how hard we try, we real­ly can’t avoid one another. We live in a world where what takes place some­where else on the globe has a very good chance of affecting us, along with many others. The pandemic, of course, is a useful – if sobering – ex­ample. A virus...

read more
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

The latest report on child maltreatment fatali­ties and near fatalities, compiled by the Texas Depart­ment of Family and Protective Services, indicates 251 children in Texas died in fiscal year 2020 due to abuse and neglect. That figure includes 28 children who died...

read more