General Interest

Masking Ageism

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Probably one of the most interesting aspects of the Tipper and Al Gore split is not the split itself, but rather the reaction people are having to it. We have all�heard the comment: why be bothered after all those years.�And this comment makes me think�”ageism” is at work.

�There may be one of at least three things going on here to “inspire” a comment like that.

Older Folks Should Suffer In Silence. Why, oh why, would you stick with something that isn’t working, regardless of your age. Apparently, lots of people assume that after a certain age, you should just “put up.” Yes, the Gores gave it 40 years each. Yes, they may not have been wise to stay together all that time if it really wasn’t working, but they have finally come to a reasonable decision. They may be slow moving, but they are “moving” now – and that’s what counts! The last time I checked there were no lifetime awards in the old “Suffer in Silence” category. The Gores are doing a wonderful job of demonstrating that after a certain age you don’t have to just “put up with it.”

Hormone Denial. There are many who do not readily understand that people over 50+ (or 40 or 60, etc.) still possess functioning hormones. The statement, “Why be bothered after all those years?” implies that sexual interest and/or activity mysteriously disappears after a threshold birthday. Well, they’re wrong – pure and simple. This is not meant to imply that either one of the Gores has a “friend.” Rather, those who assume that it isn’t possible for people in this age group to either develop or maintain romantic interests�are simply ignorant.

One Size Fits All. As with most forms of discrimination, the victims, in this case, have been painted with a broad brush. “All people over 50 behave in an X, Y, Z manner.” Those who deviate from the expected behavior are considered odd, or deviant, or worse. In truth, each of us, regardless of our age, is an individual. Each of us has unique history and background and needs and expectations. And each of us deserves respect for that very reason. So, put away the broad brush. These are distinct, unique individuals who just happen to have celebrated more birthdays than some others.

We After Fiftiers have already revolutionized many things in our brief lifetimes. As we proceed through the process of aging, we must help society� understand that�fulfilling experiences and�opportunities will continue – even After Fifty.

Sharon Jayson, in this article in USA Today, does a great job of enlightening us to the issues involved in Boomer divorce. ( )

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