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Why are elderly women so ignored by society ...

(59 Posts)
Winetta Mon 01-Aug-11 12:51:29

... when our own Queen is an elderly woman?!

It seems strange that the Queen can be so widely admired for her knowledge, wisdom, longevity, servitude yet older women as a general rule are so invisible and their brilliance overlooked.

Obviously I'm talking generally, but has anyone else thought this and what can we do to change this?!

ajaybaines Mon 01-Aug-11 12:53:08

I think the Queen is tolerated - the system intends for the reigning monarch to be male!

Bunbaker Mon 01-Aug-11 12:57:44

Because they are vulnerable and often lack enough confidence to stand up and be counted. MIL is 82 and has changed from being a very confident woman to someone who won't stand up for herself any more. In her case it is because she now gets confused easily and has a terrible memory. So I would think in a fair number of cases the causes are physical.

I agree that it is wrong for them to be ignored.

TheCrackFox Mon 01-Aug-11 12:58:05

Well, old women aren't consider fuckable and are no use for breeding so the patricarchy has decided they can be safely ignored.

400yrs ago they would have been burnt at the stake for being a witch.

suzikettles Mon 01-Aug-11 12:59:45

What section of society are you thinking about?

I know many older women who are appreciated and looked up to by their families, friends, acquaintances. Who run voluntary organisations or do other work in their communities, or who are in senior positions in companies.

Do you mean the media? Certainly there are fewer images of older women around, eg older women finding themselves pushed out of presenting jobs in television. Most people don't live in the media though.

I would hope that as the baby boomer generation of women age they won't take it lying down. Joan Bakewell is an example (is she a baby boomer? Maybe not) of someone who stands up and talks about the position of women of her generation. I think as many changes in status were fought for and won by that generation, they're likely to want to follow it through.

Winetta Mon 01-Aug-11 13:02:18

Good points, everyone.

suzikettles I do mean the media, you're right - as I also know of women such as those you mention.

Joan Bakewell is a great example.

levantine Mon 01-Aug-11 13:05:41

It's my experience that older women do have a degree of power and respect in their own family (my mil is a matriarch) but not outside the home. Mil is respected for who she was iyswim and she is increasingly vulnerable and easily defeated by hospital appointments etc

The invisibility thing - well that's down to sex isn't it. Women aren't useful when they can't be used to breed or to sell things

OrangeHat Mon 01-Aug-11 13:11:26

Because they are poor. As a group they are much poorer than old men. Combo of living longer and a lack of pension.

People who are poor = people without power = people without a voice.

suzikettles Mon 01-Aug-11 13:17:53

Good point orange.

Older women are not all the same:

Poor old women = less power
Disabled old women = less power
Mentally ill old women = less power

Poor, disabled, mentally ill old women = lowest of the low.

The Queen is none of these things (that I'm aware of).

suzikettles Mon 01-Aug-11 13:20:35

Mind you, poor, disabled, mentally ill old men end up like the guy I helped at the weekend - stuck half way across a petrol station forecourt, unable to go forward or back and noone wanting to help because he smelled of wee and was pretty incoherent.

It took 4 goes before I found a taxi that was willing to take him home.

But this is the feminist section so I don't want to get all menz on anyone...wink

Poor, old, disabled, mentally ill is going to fuck you over whatever your gender though.

EdithWeston Mon 01-Aug-11 13:28:22

suzikettles: I think you're right though. The elderly who are poor are invisible regardless of their sex.

Women generally live longer, so there are typically more elderly females, so there may be indirect forms of discrimination in play. The introduction of HRP has (fortunately) already removed the worst anomaly (career breaks), and this Govt is talking about taking this even further with a simplified Universal Pension (don't know if they're making much headway on this though).

ComradeJing Tue 02-Aug-11 02:17:04

There's a great line in the Tina fey biography where she says how agents start calling women crazy and refuse to hire them. She says women are described as crazy when no one wants to fuck them any more but they won't shut up.

jennyvstheworld Tue 02-Aug-11 02:31:10

Why is this post not called "why are elderly people so ignored by society?"?

Society is full of post-menopausal women who are respected no more, no less than male counter-parts. What it does have is fewer powerful women - probably because women hadn't won their battle for equal opportunity when the current generation of 60+ were first getting started.

It's a nice idea that women get dumped from view when they're no longer 'fuckable' but it isn't actually true...

garlicbutter Tue 02-Aug-11 03:02:03

Jenny, I'm far from unique in having become "invisible". I was expecting it happen at around 40, but it took ten years longer than that. In terms of ambient hassle, it's a blessed relief. But it's annoying when retail staff forget to see me, for example. Professionally, it's the kiss of death - men of my age and (previous) status have gravitas and experience; women just get too old.

You're right in a way: I agitate against ageism in general and, as age prejudice is still overt, there's little room for feminist issues. That doesn't mean the feminist issues don't count. In any social slice, women come out worse off than men; so too among older people. The "erotic capital", which can keep a woman afloat on a tide of patriarchy, evaporates. It's atrociously hard to discuss matters specific to ageing womanhood without people 'hearing' a conversation about Combating The Signs Of Ageing.

At 56, I'm still in the baby stages of this being 'old' lark! But I can already see where it's heading, and it makes being a young feminist look like a picnic in Paradise. It pisses me off actually. I had to fight in the 70s and 80s to be recognised as a worthwhile human despite being female; now it seems I've no choice but to do it all over again. If I ever find a group of like-minded women, we will be one fucking angry bunch of old ladies.

jennyvstheworld Tue 02-Aug-11 03:41:20

lol - and I reckon you'll be an awesome bunch of fucking angry old ladies grin)

I'd suggest that you have touched on a problem - if you spend your youth trading on looks then you can't complain when you lose them and lose what position you had. Accordingly, most of the 50+ women that possess the gravitas to which you refer are the ones who always relied on their characters rather than their appearance.

higgle Tue 02-Aug-11 13:39:18

I feel a lot of this is down to us really not undertanding older people very well. Many of us already know that as you approach middle age you can develop a different outlook on life - the classic thing of discovering gardening at 40. Younger people don't understand it but with many older people disengagement from society is a natural thing - eventually is is withdrawing from life. I don't want to over generalise but with my own parents - a father who was a bit of a petrol head and my mother very interested in fashion things changed. My father became less sociable and far more interested in nature, my mother more interested in her friends and less in her clothes.

I'm not sure that many other people outside the family would have fund them fun or interesting to relate to in old age, but they were happy, if somewhat invisible. Do we all really want to be in the thick of it as we age - some do , and good on Jane Fonda, BB King, Nicholas Parsons etc. may a little bit of their glitter rub off on the others. I think the ones who do best may have chaacter and looks (not mutually exclusive) Honor Blackman comes to mind.

TartyDoris Tue 02-Aug-11 23:00:14

I don't think it's true to say that old women are poor. Most of the older women I know have more money than the people I know around my own age. A lot of them didn't work, or hardly ever worked, as well.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 02-Aug-11 23:16:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

garlicbutter Tue 02-Aug-11 23:30:54

The women you know aren't representative, Doris.

26% of women who retire this year will have less than £10,000 a year to live on.
12% of men who retire this year will have the same.
The minimum a person needs to live on is £14,400.
The average salary is £26,000.

The UK's elderly are the 4th poorest in the EU, below Lithuania and Romania.

Article here

TartyDoris Tue 02-Aug-11 23:38:00

Women have worked less during their lives. And retire earlier. And live longer.

garlicbutter Tue 02-Aug-11 23:39:21

Yes, those are contributing factors to the fact that more than twice as many old women as old men live in desperate poverty.

garlicbutter Tue 02-Aug-11 23:42:38

Sorry, were you trying to argue that women deserve to starve in the cold or something?? Or just stating some of the reasons why more women than men are that poor?

organicgardener Wed 03-Aug-11 01:00:14

How much is a state pension?

garlicbutter Wed 03-Aug-11 01:12:41

Single man or woman, £102.15 a week.
Married couple, £163.35 a week when one partner hasn't got a full set of NI contributions, if both have always worked full-time and paid in, they each get the single person pension.

I googled that for you.

organicgardener Wed 03-Aug-11 01:24:09

That's fair then surely?

Or are you suggesting that Women should have their pension age raised so that they might have a chance of parity on retirement?

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