I have concluded that the awareness and significance of chronological age is so important in our culture that it has almost become religion. (According to a legal case known as Torcaso v. Watkins, a religion does not have to include worship of a deity to qualify as a “religion”.) I consider Age Awareness a religion because devotion to the significance of “the number” includes adherence to set-in-stone “cultural commandments” all older women are expected to believe and obey.
Some “shall and shall nots” of the religion of Age Awareness:
- A woman at retirement age is expected to retire and engage in culturally approved activities, adopt a traditional retired mindset, and in general, live a culturally sanctioned, conventional decline oriented lifestyle with people her own age.
- An older woman shall not live a lifestyle or engage in behavior that differs dramatically from the prevailing norm. If she still works because she wants to, she might hear, “What’s wrong with you? At your age, why are you still doing that? Don’t you realize how much fun you are missing?” (Fun is possibly defined as rehashing old times at the senior center or riding around in a gas guzzling RV while the mind turns to mush for lack of challenge.)
- An older woman shall not have a relationship with a younger man. The word “cougar” is a sneering expression of disrespect shown to women who are guilty of so-called “cradle robbing”. However, if the situation is reversed and a younger woman has a relationship with an older, even much older man, that’s okay. If children result from a reversed May-December relationship, that’s also okay because (snicker snicker) it shows the old goat is still a stud. It doesn’t matter that the children will likely be fatherless at a young age.
- A woman at an advanced age shall not even think about trying to sign up on e-Harmony or other dating sites that have a “cut off age” and therefore, adhere to the religion of Age Awareness. If you are above a certain age, you are not welcome to join e-Harmony even though an “old guy” is the pitchman for the site.
- Romance for an older woman? It’s obscene. After all, an older (or much older) woman should, like a young child, be neither seen nor heard. But she is good for baby sitting or baking cookies.
- An older woman living in a group environment shall not make too much effort to stay in shape or otherwise invest in staying attractive in a way that is outside the group norm. It creates resentment among some female members of the group because she might have an advantage over less attractive women in appealing to the few available males. She should just enjoy where she is in life and look and behave like every other “normal” woman in the group.
The ultimate insult and power of the religion of “Age Awareness.”
You have probably seen advertised on TV and the Internet a company called Teloyears that offers a simple blood test to let you “Know how well you are aging”. I tried to order the test kit only to be turned down because of my age. I’m 88. I neglected to read the small print that says the test is only for those between 20 and 80. In other words, I’m too old to know how well I’m aging. I really don’t need a test to know how well I’m aging — I know how well I’m aging — I just thought it might be fun to get a “scientific” assessment.
Not deterred, I again submitted my order for a test but this time I said I was 75. Bingo! An easy-to-use test kit soon arrived. I precisely followed directions to collect the required blood sample and shipped it off to the Teloyears lab.
As promised, several weeks later I received in the mail a fancy folder full of information about how to tame old age, and there — emblazoned on the folder cover in large print I discovered that in terms of cellular aging, I am only 67 years old. It made me wonder — if I had said I was 60, would I still be told I’m 67? Or might I be even a lot younger? Doesn’t matter. I’ll settle for 67. I figure that’s about right.
The question I have for you is this: Are you an unintentional adherent or proselytizer for the religion of Age Awareness? If you are, it means you are not yet “up there” in years and you have a lot to learn. If you are “already up there” and unwittingly accept the tenets of the religion of Age Awareness because “that’s the way it is”, now is the time to declare your freedom from this destructive faux religion that is bolstered by outdated cultural norms and practices and start to fearlessly live your life on your terms. It’s not too late to declare your freedom from obsolete traditions and horse and buggy thinking and the religion of Age Awareness. Just do it.