Home Book Collections Problematic Stories of Youth Saviorism Stigmatizing Older Adults

Problematic Stories of Youth Saviorism Stigmatizing Older Adults

via Ashia

Practice #3: Presume competence

Oppression requests that we see those with less power as incompetent.

Ableism requires that we treat people who need support as lesser because they need help. As if being interdependent is a moral failure, rather than an integral part of building strong communities. Ableism and ageism – those two are buddies. So watch out for that.

As if we didn’t get help getting here. (Who changed your diapers, buddy?)

We treat older people – particularly older women as if they’re ignorant and incapable. Calling them sweet and adorable is just bigotry with a smile. This trope de-fangs powerful women whose strength lifted us to this place. Tearing down older women with that nonsense takes us all out at the foundation. Sexism! Ageism and sexism! They need each other.

It takes time to learn patience, to hold space for multiple voices, to reflect on what we’ve gone through and use it to inform our actions. These are strengths. But bias against older people – and anyone with experience navigating complicated situations, tells us that these strengths are a weakness.

Showing up for rallies is not / contributing your hard-earned pay is not / painting visions as a goal to strive for is not / collecting coffee and eggs for struggling parents is not / raising courageous leaders is not / the same thing, but they all reach for the same progress.

Poor activism looks different than wealthy activism. The activism of a single parent raising two kids looks different than the activism of a child-free, young college student. Young activism looks different from activism cured with age.

We cheer for the explosions because that’s all we see, but we need slow burns. Older adults have valuable stuff to bring to the table. We need all kinds of work. We need all kinds of leaders. So it seens uniquely ironic that we remove older adults from leadership, force them to retire, and nudge them into silence because they have too much experience.

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3 observations

Adelaide Dupont February 6, 2020 - 1:21 PM

Intellectual humility – a great virtue I learnt late and I learnt hard.

It’s all about letting your self be vulnerable; trusting people know more than you do or at least different things that you do. And not blaming or shaming.

I didn’t really have a handle on humility until I was 28 and in the early 2010s on a site exploring feminism. I think intellectual humility recognizes that you’re in a community of equals that you had a hand in creating too.

And for a long time I thought it was only about appearing/sounding humble and not trying to make other people feel more stupid than they may have felt already.

As as the Eartquakes are realising it is also about experiencing pain and powerlessness and not covering for it.

And kids do start out intellectually humble. You can also just know a little more than them and fight knowledge poverty together and close gaps.

Yes, the ways we do this for and with kids are very often contrived and artificial.
sometimes there is a fear – or the kids experience the fear – what if I really am the smartest person in the room and I don’t know what to do? What if I can’t use this privilege well according to my values? What if my community is cutting me down.

Our elders experience these things too. Still!

And I liked the way you pointed out the ways in which post_truth is analogous to normal developmental experiences of five and seven year olds.

PAternalism/maternalism – and a lot of kids start to be parentified or take on parentified roles at this age. They see their parents’ capabilities decline/that the rents are less empowered in other spheres. And their empathy/sympathy develops.

We do need to find ways to be on the kids’ sides without encouraging paternalism or saviorism. Our seniors take on long and deep views.

Do the Eartquakes spend time with seniors in the neighbourhood?

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Ashia February 6, 2020 - 1:55 PM

Lots of thoughts to noodle on! Thank you!

For us – the Earthquakes don’t spend time with _anyone_ in our neighborhood. Because of our disabilities, and our lack of local family or social support, we can’t even go to the grocery store. Their grandparents are too busy for us and don’t have time (or patience) to deal with the hyperactive earthquake. I gave up on leaving the house except for private meetings and picking kids up at the bus stop years ago – the cutting remarks and gasps and evil looks just wear me out. The social calculus is just too much, and I end up having meltdowns. These days, if we’re really in a good space, I can take _one_ kid to the library with me, or both kids to an outdoor event for kids, but only if we have both parents – also hard with both of us working overtime.

If it was more accessible, I’d start with attending intergenerational events at our local library – but those same events aren’t accessible for folks with social disabilities. It would be lovely if we had opportunities to interact with older adults who know and understand neuro disabilities, but alas – the median mortality for folks with our disability is 36. If they haven’t died yet, they’ve survived by becoming reclusive and hiding their disabilities.

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Adelaide Dupont February 6, 2020 - 1:32 PM

And about being old and about being shitty – how being old is being used as code for being shitty.

One of the things I regret most int my writing is not promoting the circular economy – clothes and fast fashion are very easy to dismiss as being old.

Furniture is easier for me to represent as being emblatic of an era.

And the whole veteran and vintage circuit – for example, cars!

Then I think of J K Rowling and how she laughs at history. And all the historical fiction I have read/am reading.

And the 94-year-old Japanese woman whose children were captured in North Korea. WHy do I only pay attention to these awesome people when they are dead or dying?

It is ‘t about how we young and younger people can benefit from wisdom – it’s like a quarry if we think that way.

And all the 90+ year olds I have been privileged to live alongside. think too, how seniors are represented in rural and regional communities.

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