Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Thinking about Three Isms from the Sixties
Did you like this poster when it first came out? I did, and it turns out I still do.
I've been mulling over three isms that got going in the Sixties--racism, sexism and ageism. Yes, ageism is a word that was coined in the Sixties by Dr. Robert Butler.
A lot happened with racism and sexism--words that were associated with vigorous movements for social change. After all the consciousness raising, protests, marches, dialogues and confrontations, people understood what was racist and what was sexist. They got educated. There were words you shouldn't use and ways it was not right to act.
No education of that kind ever happened with ageism, not in the Sixties or in the 40 plus years since then. It's as if the word and the social issues it represents just went into hiding for decades. So people are still uneducated about what constitutes ageism. And that includes a lot of older adults, too. Some older adults seem unwilling to acknowledge ageism, or pretend it doesn't exist. With a growing older population, isn't it time for some positive change? I think so.
Ageism was one of the main issues that propelled me into writing the play I'm currently working on, a musical about aging. The play explores social attitudes towards aging, sexuality in later years, retirement, and the surprising secrets of the aging brain among other items. It is a piece of social change theater, in which stereotypes, issues and themes can be displayed, often with humor, and sometimes with a bit of an edge. I hope it will help people to incorporate new ideas and behaviors about age and aging into their lives and the world they live in. I'm interested in changing the current Decline Paradigm of aging, and all the stereotypes about older adults that accompany that paradigm. It's a matter of self defense to begin with. All those ads--"don't let old age catch up with you!" and so forth and on and on. Who needs it? Not me, and I'm guessing, not you either.
This time of life has tremendous value. Old people have tremendous value. That's my rant and I'm sticking with it. I would rant on but it is a very hot day and I am ready for a picnic in the park.