In my most recent newsletter, I railed against being called a lady, or being one of a group addressed as “Ladies…” Several weeks after that, the following headline appeared in an online newspaper: “Is ‘Ladies’ a microaggression? Diversity experts explain after superintendent candidate loses job offer.” The story goes on to say that the job candidate had used the word “ladies” in an email, and he claimed he had lost the offer because of that. The experts advised not using the word in case it is offensive to some women.
And then, of course, there were strong reactions from both sides with some people totally agreeing that “ladies” is a microaggression, pointing to how we often characterize a lady, and some totally disagreeing. Those disagreeing seemed to feel that calling it a microaggression is way over-the-top, yet another example of the woke culture running amuck.
How do you feel about this?
I admit I can see both sides. I was pretty clear about how I feel about being called a lady, and yet should someone lose a job over the use of the word? Could a suggestion not to use it again suffice? Who gets to decide the degree of offensiveness of any word, or whether or not someone should be offended by its use? We certainly have some words referring to certain people that should not be used. Ever. In any situation. And someone should lose their job if they use those words. But is “ladies” one of them?
At the beginning of any movement, isn’t the rhetoric over-the-top? After all, someone is calling our attention to something they feel isn’t right in some way and needs to change. They’re asking us to change the way we see, evaluate, or experience part of our culture, and that requires getting our attention. Think about the speeches and writings of some of the first leaders of the women’s movement of the sixties and seventies. I vividly remember walking down Fifth Avenue in New York City along with hundreds of other women, twirling my bra out in front of me and chanting for “equality now!”
Prime Spark Membership Community
In our Prime Spark Membership Community we’re currently reading Pussy: A Reclamation. It is byRegena Thomashauer (hint: it’s not about a kitty cat). As the title implies, it’s all about women reclaiming their power and their rights as women and as sexual and sensual beings. In our discussions of the book, we all agreed that Thomashauer is a bit over-the-top in what she’s saying, and that we have more parts to our bodies than just our pussies. AND, I might add, none of us have been able to put the book down! She’s spearheading a movement to change the way women feel about themselves. And she’s not pussyfooting around! She gets and keeps our attention.
What does this have to do with us?
The mission of Prime Spark is to change the way our society sees and treats older women. As I often say, “That’s a big mission”! It means not only changing the way we see and treat women, but also how we see and treat older people. So, gendered ageism is a double whammy. Sometimes when I tell women about Prime Spark, they get very agitated. A couple of women have gotten quite angry. When it first happened, I didn’t understand what was going on. Then one of these women said to me, “Sara, I don’t want to think about getting older!” And then I understood.
Although this thinking may be understandable given the way society treats older people and extols our youth culture, unfortunately, we have only two choices: we can get older or we can die soon. I think most of us would not choose dying.
The first step you can take to enhance the quality of your own life – and at the same time, to support the mission of Prime Spark – is to begin to feel good about getting older. As we now know, how you feel about aging can impact not only your health in some very important ways, but also your longevity by as much as seven years. So, celebrate every single birthday. Stop saying things like “Well, that was a senior moment.” Become an advocate for older adults and call out anyone who makes any kind of ageist remark.
Does this seem over-the-top? To some, yes, it will seem that way. But we are at the beginning of the movement to eradicate ageism and specifically gendered ageism. That’s what Prime Spark does. Are you with us?
The Prime Spark Membership Community is designed for women 55 (or close) and older to support one another. We learn and grow together while furthering the mission of Prime Spark. Membership currently is closed. If you’re interested in joining, please send an email to [email protected] and ask to be placed on the waitlist.
We will begin another Prime Spark Women’s Story Circle later in the year. If you’re interested in knowing more about that or would like to register, please send an email to [email protected].
Sara Hart, PhD, is an author, speaker, and coach. She is leading the charge to change how older women are seen and treated in our society. She is the creator of Prime Spark, a movement to transform how women over 55 take responsibility for their futures. Sara is the author of three books. She also has over forty years of experience in leadership development, coaching, and building thinking environments. She was the director of training and development for a Fortune 100 company. Sara was also an executive director of the Institute for Women and Technology. To learn more about claiming your power as a senior woman, visit Prime Spark today!