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Ageism and feminism

(12 Posts)
OneFlewOverTheDodosNest Mon 06-Mar-17 15:25:55

I’m getting increasingly frustrated with how women are dismissed as they age. Lately it seems as if any woman over 40 who has an opinion that’s not 100% men centric is an “old bat” and “out of touch”. The thing is, the more I hear these voices being shut down, the more I think it’s a way of trying to cut feminism off at the knees.

I’m not well versed in feminist literature so this may have been explored already, but surely the best way to prevent a movement gaining traction is to put off any potential new recruits by portraying the current lot as irrelevant? I’ve become a member of some feminist groups and have really benefitted from the combined wisdom of women who’ve already experienced the same issues I’m going through and yet I feel like there’s a conspiracy to stop this happening more widely.

Am I seeing sexism when it’s really just a result of a youth centric culture or is there a grit of truth in my paranoia?

phoenix1973 Mon 06-Mar-17 15:34:58

Definitely truth in your thinking.
By writing us off as menopausal old bags, they think we can be disregarded or quelled.

highinthesky Mon 06-Mar-17 15:36:42

I've never put a man at the centre of my world and will be damned before I ever do.

Especially now I'm in my forties! grin

paxillin Mon 06-Mar-17 15:38:46

Women get hit by ageism twice, first they are "girls" for ages who cannot be taken seriously, then a short window of being taken seriously only to hit "old bat" territory in their late 40s.

OneFlewOverTheDodosNest Mon 06-Mar-17 15:54:27

Yes paxillin and we get doubly hit by the impact of it - the obvious impact of being dismissed once no longer the acceptable age, but also the secondary impact of the lack of voices from older women for younger women to learn from.

PoochSmooch Tue 07-Mar-17 06:56:25

You'e not wrong oneflew. It's divide and conquer. It's happened throughout history - every generation of women has to learn the same lessons over and over. I think a big part of it is the arrogance of youth, thinking that your elders just don't get it is part of how you formulate your own ideas, and that's fine to an extent. It is definitely quite often gendered, though and it's backed up by powerful societal messages about women - for example, when women newscasters get too old to be decorative and are quietly dropped, while their male peers move smoothly to elder statesman territory.

makeourfuture Tue 07-Mar-17 10:44:43

"It's happened throughout history"

Yes, but I do find interesting these wicanish ideas. The idea of the old crone/witch may have been an invention of organised religion. An older "wise woman" or "white witch" or "cunning woman", one who knew much and was of great value, would have been direct competition for a male priest. It would make sense that she could have been framed as a scary old lunatic.

Again, it is all murky, but you have - all across Europe - symbols and folk tales of strong, mature, wise women. The mythic "wild hunts" were often led by women such as the Italian la Dona del Zöch. Then there is the cult of Diana.

I have often thought that if the case for planned patriarchy can be made, it is here that it it is most evident....when organised religion and later "enlightenment" and industrialisation seemingly purposefully stripped older, respected women of their status.

I wonder if "abuela" is not a throwback in some ways.

Annesmyth123 Tue 07-Mar-17 10:45:42


Railgunner1 Tue 07-Mar-17 11:04:34

women can never win in this...
when they're young, they're 'inexperienced', when they're older, they're 'irrelevant'. and i won't even start about 'childbearing age'.
worst thing is how women themselves submit to it...

DJBaggySmalls Tue 07-Mar-17 12:14:44

I'm on social media a lot and I've noticed a lot of negative comments aimed at 'older' women, along the lines of what good are they/waste of space. It does seem to be a deliberate tactic, going by the context. And the comments are from the usual suspects.
Another tactic is to suggest that women are not needed, and are being erased and replaced by substitutes such as trans and artificial wombs (!)

Xenophile Tue 07-Mar-17 12:44:07

Greer's book The Change is really good on this.

OneFlewOverTheDodosNest Tue 07-Mar-17 14:03:22

Thanks everyone - I thought that there'd be more information on this out there and MN is so good at finding things like that!

It's definitely on social media that I'm noticing it most, but even MSM seem to think it's acceptable to insult women in an awfully ageist and sexist way.

I think I'll read about La Dona del Zoch - sounds interesting!

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