Ageism: Age Discrimination And Its Causes

Elderly person with glasses.

One of the characteristics of situations of discrimination is that many times those who suffer it do not have the necessary means to report this injustice.

And there are certain conditions in which we are not even in a position to organize in a sufficiently large and well-managed number of people so that the voices of the victims are heard loud and clear, as well as their demands. Ageism, or age discrimination, is one of the clearest examples of this.. Let’s see what it consists of and in what ways it is reflected in everyday life.

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What is ageism?

In itself, ageism is a fairly simple concept, and its definition could be simply this: discrimination against older people, that is, who belong to the fourth and third age. And just as happens with racism or sexism, in ageism there are large groups of the population who are alienated from making the most important decisions, so it seems that other generations have “colonized” their living environments. .

Furthermore, ageism is a problem that occurs in practically all cultures. Although in Western countries aging people are not abandoned to die without consuming the community’s resources, it is true that older people continue to be subjected to clearly discriminatory measures and attitudes.

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Examples of ageism in our daily lives

Below you can see some expressions of ageism that are so common that many of them pass as normal.

1. The lack of representation on television and film

Beyond politics, practically any content that is broadcast on television or shown in cinemas has a clear lack of representation of older people. Either they appear very little, or they do not have an important role in what is being told. The reason is that in media so based on image, old age does not sell because it is considered unsightly.

Thus, older people lack references and They do not have figures that make their own problems and situation visible..

2. Architectural barriers

Another aspect that clearly discriminates against older people is the presence of architectural barriers, such as steep stairs or the absence of public transportation in spaces where it is difficult to walk.

3. Labor discrimination

One of the clearest signs of ageism is the discrimination suffered by many older people who want to work and who have the ability to do it well. The simple fact of passing a certain age is a complete refusal to be hired, or which means that it is difficult to get out of unemployment. Furthermore, this Even people who have not yet reached the age of 60 suffer from it..

On the other hand, since older people often live more isolated than people of other age groups due to their lack of training in new technologies and problems related to architectural barriers, their political organization is complicated.

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4. The stigmatization of sexuality in older people

This point is quite similar to the first, since it is based on an ageist consideration of what is aesthetic and what is unsightly. Nudity and intimacy of older people is considered unsightly, and consequently its expression is socially reprimanded, either with clear rejection or with ridicule. Old age is conceived as a life stage in which you have to worry about things other than sex; Of course, those who support it are always young or middle-aged people, who can enjoy the privilege of living their sexuality openly.

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5. Condescension

Old age is seen as equivalent to ignorance and an almost absolute lack of the ability to think. That is why in practice it is very common Treat those who have entered old age as if they were children They were only a few years old and were learning how the world works. This, of course, is another example of ageism that can pass for a simple well-intentioned willingness to help others.

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6. Control of your living conditions

Many older people are seen as incapable of making decisions for themselves and, therefore, dependent on others for guidance. That is to say, age itself is used as an excuse to restrict their freedom.

Types of ageism

Discrimination based on age occurs at both a personal and institutional level.

personal ageism

It consists of beliefs, attitudes and prejudices that in practice harm older people. For example, the belief that older people should not be able to vote.

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Institutional ageism

It is a type of discrimination that is materially present in objective aspects of how society functions. For example, in the policy of institutionalization in centers for the elderly, which can sometimes go against the will of older people, or in laws that put the unemployed older people in a situation of clear vulnerability.