A new campaign is attempting to ban terms like ‘silly old bugger’ and ‘seniors moment’ in order to combat ageism. But do over-60s really feel offended by these terms, or is it another example of political correctness gone mad?
The use of phrases like ‘silly old bugger’, ‘senior’s moment’ and even ‘wrinkly’ are now banned from use in a number of councils across Victoria as the state joins forces with key bodies in an aim to become “a community without ageism”.
Several councils across Victoria, including Boroondara, Knox, Manningham, Maroondah, Monash, Whitehorse and Yarra, have partnered with the EveryAGE Counts campaign to urge people to call out ageism in their communities.
Currently, several councils across Victoria have jumped on board, with Boroondara, Knox, Manningham, Maroondah, Monash, Whitehorse and Yarra councils all banning the use of a range of common phrases hoping to tackle prejudices against the elderly.
Australian actor Bryan Brown, famous for his appearances in Cocktail, Two Hands and Along Came Polly, is spearheading the campaign and appeared in a new video and said birthday cards with “belittling ageist jokes will disappear, derogatory terms for old people will be as unacceptable as derogatory terms for race and gender”.
“Ageism against older people is stereotyping, discrimination and mistreatment based solely on a person’s age,” he says. “We will realise only some old people live in nursing homes, only some are hard of hearing and only some have dementia.”
The anti-ageism campaign also includes a quiz, which tells people how ageist they are based on their responses to a range of fictional scenarios.
“If you hear a friend describe his neighbour as an ‘Old Dear’, what would you think?” one question asks.
While another asks, “If you need to explain something about technology to an older person, you” “talk slowly and loudly,” “explain the same way you would anyone,” or “don’t waste your breath”.
At the end of the quiz, respondents are given one of three labels identifying their level of ageism.
The best-case scenario is to be ‘ageism aware’, which the website says means you should help model acceptance and respects for all ages, calling out ageism when you see it.
The second-best case is the ‘accidental ageist’, which means you’re mostly accepting but have been exposed to negative stereotypes, which have blurred and ingrained themselves into your beliefs, meaning you sometimes make ageists remarks.
Finally, there’s the ‘ageist affected’, someone who has absorbed too many of societies myths around ageism. The quiz asks the ageists affected, “Do you plan on being a different, less valuable person after a certain birthday? Didn’t think so.”
Boroondara Mayor Garry Thompson told Herald Sun that the campaign was designed to rid people of often unconscious bias they have toward older Australians.
“Phrases developed in our society suggesting older people are too slow, cannot drive or keep up with fast moving technology are examples of this,” he said. “Ageism is a disturbing form of prejudice which lacks respect for older people, and it affects many aspects of an older person’s life.
“Older people in our community need the confidence and self-esteem to live as independently as they can, and not get told they cannot do things because of their age.”
The campaign strives for “a community without ageism” and urges people to speak up and start a conversation when they hear someone being ageist.