Ageism is the unspoken form of discrimination. When people think of discrimination, they rarely think of ageism as an issue. Yet, while people view racism, homophobia and other forms as discrimination in a negative light, ageism gets a free pass. Ageism is largely misunderstood and rarely talk about but at the same time, it's arguably the most common types of discrimination.
Today, I was confronted with ageism right in the face. My friend and I had traveled to shop at the Christiana Mall in Delaware. We were doing absolutely nothing wrong; we weren't even loitering but actually shopping. Suddenly, we were stopped by two security guards. We were asked, "Are you over eighteen? We need to see some ID." Of course, we couldn't produce any as I am sixteen and she is fifteen. They then told us that we weren't allowed at the mall because there was a five o'clock curfew for teenagers Friday, Saturday and Sunday; we needed to have to call our parents to pick us up and they would be watching us until we did. We told them that our parents were in another part of the mall and they said they still had to follow us there. So, like total creepers, they did follow us until we met up with my friend's very outraged mother when we finally neared closer.
In western society, it seems like the elderly and teenagers are most often prey to it. Society says that teenagers are stupid, moody, annoying, bad, irresponsible, rude and generally untrustworthy while old people are useless, grumpy, senile, loopy, and out of it. Neither groups are to be taken seriously by anyone.
These are absolutely ridiculous. Seriously, has anyone ever stopped to seriously think about any of those statements? Any of those thoughts? At least for the elderly, people tend to have some sympathy for their plight (although in many cases, their cases of ageism are worse and have more drastic consequences). But nobody cares about teenagers.
While the elderly are objects of scorn, we are the object of fear to some degree. People see as threatening. We are suspected gang members, vandals, shoplifters, druggies... All that. Adults were teenagers once too as hard as they might find it to believe. A lot of adults justify this by saying that teenagers today are "different" but I honestly don't think we're all that much different: our obstacles are the same and many of us are very similar to them. Yes, there are plenty of teenagers that give us all a bad rap but guess what? We're not all bad and we're not nearly as incompetent as many adults think that we are. My opinions shouldn't be invalidated because of my age; my age does not automatically make me stupid or unqualified. Hell, our age doesn't even mean we're "inexperienced" because I know some teenagers who have had far more experiences than the average adult.
I know the elderly face a lot of crap too. It actually really angers me that people think they have the right to look down on the elderly and make fun of them like they do. Just because an elderly person happens to be physically incapacitated doesn't mean that they are mentally so: they have so much to offer and so
To be honest, one of the biggest problems with ageism is its effect on the group in question. Often, the treatment of said groups by other people is often internalized and these stereotypes become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Ageism is wrong and stupid; it needs to stop.