By Margaret Morganroth Gullette
Let’s face it: virtually everyone fears ageing. We fear approximately wasting our appears to be like, our future health, our jobs, our self-esteem—and being supplanted in paintings and love via more youthful humans. It sounds like the traditional, inevitable outcome of the passing years, yet what if it’s now not? What if approximately every little thing that we predict of because the “natural” technique of getting older is something yet? In Agewise, well known cultural critic Margaret Morganroth Gullette unearths that a lot of what we dread approximately getting older is really the results of ageism—which we will be able to, and may, conflict as strongly as we do racism, sexism, and different kinds of bigotry. Drawing on provocative and under-reported facts from biomedicine, literature, economics, and private tales, Gullette probes the ageism that drives discontent with bodies, our selves, and our accomplishments—and makes us effortless prey for retailers who are looking to promote us an illusory imaginative and prescient of younger perfection. Even worse, rampant ageism factors society to undefined, and from time to time thoroughly discard, the knowledge and adventure received by way of humans over the process maturity. The costs—both collective and personal—of this tradition of decline are virtually incalculable, diminishing our group, robbing more youthful humans of desire for an honest later existence, and eroding the satisfactions and feel of productiveness that are supposed to animate our later years. when we open our eyes to the pervasiveness of ageism, in spite of the fact that, we will be able to start to struggle it—and Gullette lays out bold plans for the complete lifestyles direction, from instructing young children anti-ageism to fortifying the social protection nets, and therefore eventually making attainable the true pleasures and possibilities promised through the hot durability. A bracing, arguable name to palms, Agewise will shock, enlighten, and, maybe most crucial, convey wish to readers of every age.
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Since I was then already into my sixties in a culture increasingly obsessed with youth, this experience was rare. But The Eskimo on the Ice Floe : 33 had I ever seen an image created from the point of view of a woman looking down at her own body from above? Never. Nor could a mirror show it. Certainly no TV or magazine ad had ever captured those satisfying curves. The assumption of our culture is not just ageist but middle-ageist, that bodily decline starts not in old age but ever younger: for women and even some men, as early as thirty.
F The Eskimos on the ice ﬂoe aren’t just old; they are dead men walking. The anticipated image of old age is becoming so one-sided as to be terrifying. Philosophers explaining why aging might be terrifying usually say because it leads to death, a statement about Thanatos that I used to accept as very likely even though I still don’t ﬁnd aging-into-old-age, in itself, terrifying. But the explanation misses something interesting that is happening in the relationship between these two last things at the present time.
Retirement can open up vulnerabilities to age bias. There is plenty of evidence in Carolyn’s biography. About a decade before her death, she had resigned from Columbia University’s English department— famously, because male colleagues were not advancing her protégées. They were denying her the inﬂuence that her seniority merited and thwarting her ability to help the feminist movement. Carolyn thus lost a ﬁeld on which she had been heroically combative. With her credentials—past president of the Modern Language Association, no less— when she left university teaching, she should have been able to join that small coterie of top men who resist ageism through traditional patriarchal means, retaining connections, prestige, and honors.