Are you an Old Fogey?
One of my weekly commitments is DanceSix-0 a contemporary dance class for people over sixty. It’s great fun and there is also a company that puts on public performances. I’m not a member of that though. In order to join the class I had to address my prejudices about getting involved in something that was specifically aimed at people over sixty (my peer group). Most of the things I do are not age related and it seemed a big step to stand up and be counted as a pensioner. So glad I took the plunge though, the classes are great fun and a lovely group of women and the occasional man go along.
This week I was having a coffee with some of my classmates when one of them mentioned that she attended a class called fogey fitness or something similar. It was certainly alliterative and had fogey in the title. My first reaction was that there was no way I could bring myself to attend anything called that. I don’t see myself as an old fogey now and I hope that however long I live I will reject that label as derogatory. Whilst I’m sure that the person who came up with the name thought it was a bit of fun, I do think we should consider how, as older people and older women in particular, we should refer to ourselves if we want people to think of us as useful members of society with something to offer rather than ‘has beens’.
Ageism is a prejudice against our own future selves, as Todd Nelson and other age scholars have observed, and has the dubious distinction of being the only “ism” related to a universal condition.Ashton Applewhite
There as been an increasing amount written about ageism. According to Ashton Applewhite in her book This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism “We experience ageism any time someone assumes we’re ‘too old’ for something – a task, a relationship, a haircut instead of finding out who we are and what we’re capable of”. Those of us who were feminists in the nineteen-seventies or before will recognise that here is a new battle to fight. Think about it, are you going to engage in the battle for equal rights for older people or are you going to embrace fogeyism? I’d love to hear your views on this.