The footings agism and sexism were coined about the same clip ( 1969 and 1970. severally ) . but sexism has become more widely used than agism ( Schick. 2006:7 ) . Almost everyone has heard of sexism. Until late. few people had heard of agism. Both constructs refer to prejudice or favoritism against a class of people: sexism is normally directed against adult females. and agism is normally directed against the elderly. However. sometimes sexism is directed against work forces ( by some utmost women’s rightists ) . and agism is sometimes directed against younger people ( “positive agism. ” Palmore. 1990: 44 ) .
Prejudice is a negative attitude toward a class of people that is inaccurate and immune to alter. Discrimination is an inappropriate intervention of a class of people. normally based on bias ( Atchley. 2001:17 ) . Sexism and agism combine in all possible ways: a few countries show neither one. more countries are affected by one but non the other. but most countries are affected by both. There may be some countries with neither agism nor sexism. although it is difficult to believe of any country wholly free of such bias.
In some countries there is sexism with small or no agism. For illustration. it is by and large believed that adult females of any age should non get married work forces younger than themselves. but it is all right for work forces to get married adult females younger than themselves. This is a chief ground why there are over five times as many widows as widowmans over 65. On the other manus. in some countries there is agism but small or no sexism. For illustration. many people believe that most old people are lame or doddering. regardless of gender. The fact is that the bulk of people over 65 are neither lame nor doddering.
In most countries both agism and sexism combine to escalate the jobs of older adult females. For illustration. adult females of all ages tend to hold lower incomes than work forces ( sexism ) . but older adult females besides tend to hold even lower incomes than younger adult females ( agism ) . This state of affairs is frequently called “double jeopardy” because of the combined effects ( Schick. 2006: 99 ) . Sontag ( 1972 ) coined the term “double criterion of aging. ” This refers to the combination of sexism and agism that multiplies the effects of both. more than would be expected on the footing of merely adding the two effects.
For illustration. being physically attractive is more of import in most women’s lives than in men’s ( sexism ) ; and there is a common belief that older individuals are by and large non every bit attractive as immature people ( agism ) . However. women’s gray hair. furrows. bumps. and hunched organic structures receive harsher judgement than those of work forces. For many adult females. aging means a “humiliating procedure of gradual sexual disqualification” ( Sontag. 1972: 30-35 ) . while many work forces enjoy more romantic success later in life because they have more position. money. and power than they had earlier.
As a consequence. being a “spinster” or “old maid” is considered a pathetic position. while being an older unmarried man is non so bad. Notice that there is no male equivalent of “old amah. ” It may be objected that many older adult females do non mind this “sexual disqualification” and adjust to it by abdicating all involvement in sexual activities or by going tribades. This is true. but beside the point. The point is that sexism combined with agism tends to implement this “sexual disqualification” whether or non the adult female likes it ( Levin and Levin. 2000:210 ) .
There are many beginnings of agism: single. societal. and cultural ( Palmore. 1990:51 ) . The single beginnings include autocratic personalities. defeat and aggression. selective perceptual experience. rationalisation. and decease anxiousness. The societal beginnings include modernisation. competition. obsolescence. segregation. and selffulfilling prognostications. The cultural beginnings include the procedure of faulting the victim. differing value orientations. linguistic communication. wit. vocals. art. literature. telecasting. and cultural slowdown.
There are likely merely as many beginnings of sexism that have been documented and analyzed elsewhere ( Friedan. 1963: 107 ) . The most popular beginnings of sexism that seem to increase in old age are wit and linguistic communication. Negative gags about adult females of all ages are common. However. gags about old adult females seem to be comparatively more frequent and more negative than those about younger adult females ( Palmore. 1990:53 ) . As any pupil of racism or sexism knows. negative wit is one of the most common and effectual ways to perpetuate negative stereotypes about a minority group.
One ground negative wit about a group is so common and effectual is that it is passed off as “just a joke” or “harmless wit. ” In fact. negative wit is seldom harmless and is particularly insidious because its ferociousness is masked by its open “funniness. ” Therefore the age-concealment gags reinforce the stereotype that all older adult females are ashamed of their age. while older work forces are non. It may good be that slightly more old adult females are ashamed of their age than are old work forces ( because of the “double criterion of aging” ) . but that is beside the point.
Similarly. the position of old amah is by and large considered more negative than that of old unmarried man. but that excessively is beside the point. The point is that such negative wit reinforces bias against older adult females. One of the most elusive but permeant influences of civilization on our attitudes is our linguistic communication: the words we use to place or depict a individual or group ; the derivations. definitions. and intensions of the words ; their equivalent word and opposite word ; and the context in which they are used. Our linguistic communication frequently supports agism in all of these ways ( Palmore. 1990:57 ) .
In add-on. two analyses of words for seniors have found that many of them besides reflect sexism. Covey ( 1998 ) found that footings for old adult females have a much longer history of negative intensions than those for old work forces. because adult females non merely faced a long history of agism. but besides sexism and spiritual persecution ( as in enchantress Hunts ) ( Covey. 1998:291 ) . How can this malevolent combination of sexism and agism be combatted? In general. most of the schemes that have been successful in cut downing racism and sexism in general could be used to cut down the combination of sexism and agism.
Persons can take the undermentioned actions to cut down bias and favoritism against older adult females: 1. Inform yourself so you have the facts to battle the misconceptions and stereotypes. 2. Analyze your ain attitudes and actions and seek to extinguish those that reflect sexism and agism. 3. Inform your relations. friends. and co-workers about the facts. particularly when some bias is expressed or implied. 4. Make non state ageist or male chauvinist gags and garbage to express joy when you hear one. ( Try change overing the gag to an age- and sex-neutral gag by non stipulating age or sex.
) References Atchley R. 2001. Social forces and aging. Belmont. Calcium: Wadsworth. Covey H. 1998. “Historical nomenclature used to stand for older people” . Gerontologist. 28. Friedan B. 1963. The feminine mystique. New York: Norton. Levin J. . & A ; Levin W. 2000. Ageism: Prejudice and favoritism against the aged. Belmont. Calcium: Wadsworth. Palmore E. 1990. Ageism: Negative and positive. New York: Springer. Schick F. ( Ed. ) 2006. Statistical enchiridion on aging Americans. Phoenix. AZ: Oryx Press. Sontag S. 1972. “The dual criterion of aging” . Saturday Review. 55 ( 39 ) .