We all have those things that piss us off, and those friends who do those things specifically to piss us off. So, predictably, after I published an article on the combination of sexism and ageism that combines into a culture that calls women girls, I ended up with friends that seemed to forget my name in favor of “that girl”, and other friends that make those jokes about “don’t call her a girl or she’ll rip your head off”.
Fuck it, that’s probably true, especially when it’s done as a purposeful insult. When I write about ageism, I get kindergarten jokes. When I write about feminism, I get sexist comments. Writing about religion gets me wanna be preachers, and politics means getting the opposite side of literally any issue sending me anything from polite passive aggressiveness to (noncredible) death threats.
Maybe it’s been lost in translation. It’s not about respect. It isn’t about being PC. It’s about encouraging discrimination. Ageism and sexism are as bad as racism and homophobia, so why are the former two acceptable, ageism especially, while the latter two are discouraged?
Most of those ‘anti-feminist’ words can be remedied by more usage, not by less. I call my guy friends bitches on a pretty consistent basis, and plenty of people of both genders are bossy. You can’t call a man a girl the way you call a woman a girl. When you call a man a girl it’s supposed to mean that he’s weak, that he’s a coward, that he’s overly sensitive; in other words, something that should be changed.
We can’t say fuck on television but we can degrade and belittle people who are younger than us without anyone blinking a goddamned eye. We can say sexist things constantly and no one cares.
I’m happy for my friends that can laugh about ageism, really. It means they’ve never been told to shut up about something they’ve researched for weeks because they’re young. It means they’ve never been dragged through hell in a court case that they couldn’t control because they aren’t citizens. It means they lived somewhere with enough employment that they weren’t turned down for jobs simply because hiring them meant more paperwork. They’ve never had their professor tell a classmate that they weren’t allowed to record because they might break the law by gathering audio of someone underage. They’ve never looked into the (usually roadblocked and sometimes nonexistent) emancipation process. They’ve never needed a passport or driver’s license without their parents permission. They’ve never been shut out of a website, blocked from a field trip, denied access to their own information (birth certificate, transcripts, finances). They’ve never needed their own debit card. If this is the longest paragraph here, it’s because ageism is so prevalent that you have to be living it to think about it.
I’m seventeen. I’m a sophomore in college. Fuck that, I’m a sophomore in college. I write for the school paper. I’m an officer in a student organization. I was one of the only people who got here with the ability to cook and do dishes and laundry. I write two or three articles a week for this website; my website.
I wasn’t joking. If you call me a girl, after I worked my way through a discriminatory culture to accomplish things like this, dealing with abuse and mental illness the whole time, then I will get fucking pissed off.
I’m a pacifist, but ageism pisses me off, a lot. We’re not at the point where it’s getting better, so making jokes about it, at least at this point in time, is not okay.