Guest post By Rhizome Syndrigast Coelacanth Flourishing
This is from a thread I participated in earlier this year where folx had allowed a uncritiqued ageism to reign over me:
“Folx use Elder as a label for all older/aging folx they encounter should rethink that.
The word is loaded with, yes, cultural significance, that is never unpacked in terms of expectations for folx who have that label affixed to their existences.
Most folx who have this label affixed to who they are, have often already accepted it as construct, never having realized there was space to question or even refuse it.
I refuse it.
I challenge it.
I am not interested in having the label and any accompanying, unspecified, coercive expectations that might or might not come with the word affixed to my existence.
If we’re radically unpacking ageism, Elder uncritically used as a term, has no place in this thread.
I don’t need you to keep my words in mind.
I need you to hear me saying using Elder as a general word for all older or aging folx without their permission, given that Elder comes with a whole whack load of historical, cultural and social significance, is oppressive.
Where and when possible unless you’re already dealing with folx who you know have accepted/embraced the term, you really should ask.
I don’t like being referred to as Elder by random qt folx who do not share precisely what they mean when they use this term in relation to me.
I don’t like not being asked if I’d like to have the weight of their need, hopes and expectations attached to my existence, to my place among young/er politicized folx, to my sexuality, to my resistance work.
Elder, when used by high profile up and coming folx in community can also be a competitive, patronizing death sentence.
I have never been so insulted by the tones of folx I’ve been attempting to engage with as I have felt in this thread.
The perception of who older or aging people are is completely infused with faux gentle, condescending tones that say “hush, hush dear older person. don’t work yourself up into a lather over this. it isn’t good for your heart. here’s your rocker and your knitting.”
Radical anti-ageism is probably not ever going to be a thing because so many marginalized folx who are older are struggling for daily basic survival.
This does not mean that folx who are younger and generally politicized get to uncritically assume a particular power relation/social dynamic. ”
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