Oldies and the #MeToo Movement

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Has it really been just months since the Harvey Weinstein allegations hit the news? Since then, prominent men have been dropping like flies, losing their jobs as scores of women report aggressive sexual harassment and coercion in the workplace. Even our non-famous male friends and once co-workers are seriously rethinking how they behaved toward women throughout their careers.

The #MeToo movement has gone international, kept this important issue in the news, and birthed a new movement, Time’s Up.  Hollywood celebrities founded the group to promote equality and safety in the workplace for all women and raised millions for its legal defense fund.

We oldies feel that this can be THE watershed moment. Women are speaking up like never before. Let’s not let this moment go by. Let’s solve this problem…now.

We joined the workforce with birth control pills in our medicine cabinet. The pill became the symbol of the sexual revolution and liberation. We read Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique, which urged us to choose to be more than a housewife and participate in and enjoy sex.

The 1970s brought the Civil Rights movement, women’s liberation movement leaders like Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, and Helen Reddy singing “I am woman; hear me roar.” We attended marches and protests for equal rights in the workforce. We thought we had made a difference. We thought we had “come a long way, baby.” Not far enough, obviously!

Yes, as young, working females, we were subject to sexual advances. We crossed our legs away from the male who put his hand on our thigh during a working lunch clearly indicating we weren’t interested. We put an end to unwanted flirting quickly and unambiguously. We dealt with it. We quit jobs when the boss was a jerk and told our friends not to apply. Today, we’d go to the Board of Directors and get him fired.

Interestingly, some are saying that the #MeToo movement has uncovered a rift between baby boomers—those of us who lived through the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s—and younger women of later generations. Rift? Hardly. A different perspective? Of course.

One area where we oldies appear to have a differing perspective is that we see a spectrum of sexual misconduct ranging from mildly offensive to egregious.

Many infractions do not come close to those of Dr. Nassar or Weinstein, or chronic abusers such as Ailes, Rose, and Lauer. Or wife beaters. That said, a man telling a woman she looks good is not the same as exposing his genitals. An unwanted hug is not the same as coercing a woman to have sex. Noting that someone looks tired is not body-shaming.

We want everyone to be smart, careful, and use common sense. Think twice about meeting in a hotel room. Clearly state what you want and don’t want. Say “stop” or “no” definitively. Sadly, research shows that 68 percent of millennials actively avoid face-to-face conversations. Young people apparently don’t know how to talk to one another. They could try this: step back and text “NO” in caps.

Let’s help our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and others. Let’s strongly support everyone who has suffered. Let’s advocate for inclusive, rational discussions among men, women, and LGBTQ. Let’s lobby for legislation that penalizes companies that tolerate cultures of harassment and against the use of the nondisclosure agreements that have helped silence victims of abuse. Together, let’s create dramatic, lasting social change.

Our wrinkled wisdom for today: Till all this is ironed out, we suggest a sports approach in both work and social situations since sports is a universal “language.” If someone does something improper or inappropriate, simply make a time-out sign with your hands. Use this hand signal as a teachable moment; and, hopefully, an entrée to or—to continue our sports analogy—the kickoff of a meaningful conversation. And, remember that American football has an illegal touching penalty. One could simply call “foul,” which would definitely be better than yelling—I’m calling a lawyer! Have another idea? We say go for it and let us know how it works out.

 

About That Bucket List

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A drop in the bucket, slime bucket, sweat buckets, come down in buckets, kick the bucket….and finally, wait for it: bucket list.

Bucket idioms have been around for centuries, and now it’s the bucket list that is all the rage—for all ages, not just seniors.  Bucket lists are ubiquitous.  So, if you need inspiration, just check out the list of 10,000 things to do before you die.  Lists have been concocted for visiting foreign countries and big cities, for particular seasons, and even for cooking new recipes.  Google at will.

The term appears to have originated with, or at least been popularized by, the 2007 movie The Bucket List, which starred Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.

Wow, who knew that 90 percent of people over-55 have already created a bucket list?  That’s what surveys say.  Okay, most of us oldies have an idea of some things we might want to do before kicking the bucket, but are those ideas realistic?  Let’s take a look at some common online ideas.

Defying gravity seems to be very popular.  Our movie stars, Morgan and Jack, had skydiving on their bucket list.  However, they also had stunt men.  We were very impressed that the first President Bush parachuted to celebrate his 90th birthday.  But, he’s a longtime skydiving fanatic.  If skydiving or other feet-off-the-ground adventures like parachuting, paragliding, or parasailing make your list, we suggest a tandem jump with a professional as Bush did.  We also suggest you update your will and have your life insurance paid up.

A hot air balloon ride makes many lists and seems to us a reasonable way to get high without… well…getting high.

A tattoo?  Nope. That ship has sailed for us oldies.  Sagging skin is not the best canvas for tattoo art.  Just get a temporary one.

Of course, traveling the world and eating exotic foods is popular limited only by bad backs, knees, and hips; planter fasciitis; and medical issues…such as GERD.  You get the idea.

Many bucket lists tout running a marathon, learning a new language, writing a book, or taking music lessons.  Really?  And, you have waited until now because?

Conquering a fear lands on many lists.  And, there are such creative names for these phobias.  Fear of spiders—arachnophobia.  Claustrophobia—fear of small, confined spaces.  Fear of heights—acrophobia.  Fear of rats plays a huge part in the novel 1984.  Even that phobia has a name—musophobia. We prefer to think of bucket list items as fun and adventurous objectives.  We are happy to die with some fears.

Scuba diving sounds exciting; but, sadly, we’ve pretty much missed the Great Barrier Reef, which is fading fast.  And…questions: are you willing to don a bathing suit?  Can you swim?  Are you willing to come face to face with sharks, giant squids, electric eels, and flesh-eating bacteria?

Going on a cruise is quite doable but potentially fattening.  Prolific food and drink.  But, beware of Legionnairesdisease and leaning too far over the railing if you’ve had a few or irritated your partner.

A new study reports that, on average, oldies are willing to spend about $13,000 on their bucket lists.  Looking at lists online, we don’t think that would cover visiting all seven continents, highlighted by an elephant ride in Thailand.  But, you could visit all 50 states, see the Northern Lights, learn to crack an egg with one hand, swim with a dolphin (in a wetsuit, please), go on a whale watching tour, or plan for the next total eclipse…all popular choices.

Pity our kids.  With life expectancy rising each year, they could be working forever.  Heck, one in 10 oldies now say they will have to work until they are over 71.  Expect future bucket lists to include…retirement!

So, our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Creating bucket lists can be fun, but maybe start waaay before you might actually kick the bucket.  Hear that young people?  And, think realistically.  Heck, there is always virtual reality and you don’t even need to get out of bed.  Give it a Google.  And, since some degree of memory loss is a fairly common part of aging, be sure your bucket list is on your smartphone, lest you forget.

Old Is the New New

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No, we aren’t talking about consignment shops. We’re talking about the changing face of America.

The world’s older population continues to grow at an unprecedented rate.  There are now over 72 million boomers and another 50-odd million people who belong to the “silent” generation.  And, our growth is outpacing every other demographic group.  In fact, by 2030, one in five Americans will be 65 or older.  A virtual tsunami of oldies!

Old is the new new!  That should earn us a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T!  With this reference, we are broadening the feminist theme of Aretha Franklin’s 1967 hit.

Interestingly, speaking of respect, did you know we have our own government agency?  It’s called the National Institute on Aging (NIA).  It’s part of the National Institute of Health, which we all know as NIH, and is charged with studying aging and extending our healthy, active years of life.  Alzheimer’s disease is an important focus.  Oh, and testosterone therapy.

There is power in numbers.  Money talks.   Ah, sometimes adages and their general truths are apropos if a bit overused.  As a group, we oldies have tremendous economic clout.  Seniors control nearly a third of total U.S. net wealth.  Advertisers need to catch on!

And, marketers are wising up…albeit…slowly.  They are recognizing that we spend and it’s not just on cruises, medical alert systems, senior living facilities, and Depends.  Research underscores that we are significant buyers of cars and Apple products.   Hence the recent AARP headline:  Automakers Rediscover and Create for Boomers.

How propitious that self-driving cars are being developed just as we are aging!  How very thoughtful.  And, another fun headline: Self-driving Vehicles and Baby Boomers: A Budding Relationship.

Yet, advertisers have a long, long way to go.  Today, less than five percent of advertising targets the baby boomer market.  Most advertising dollars are spent catering to 18 to 34 year-olds.  Forbes magazine calls us the most neglected, wealthy group in the history of marketing.

And, important to advertisers, we Google.  We check our e-mail on our smartphones. We order stuff online.  We use social media.  We have Facebook pages.  We check out YouTube.  In fact, baby boomers describe themselves as heavy Internet users. The average broadcast media viewer is now over 50, which is really a profound change that will greatly impact television advertising.

Marketers, do the math!  Get over gerontophobia.  And, learn to talk to us in a way that reflects some reality.

And, wow, do they have a lot to learn.  Most seniors don’t like the advertising aimed at them.  It isn’t realistic or respectful, according to polls.  It’s stereotypic.  We want ads that capture our attention, entertain us, inform us, and respect us.

Okay, we all don’t look like Jane Fonda at 79.  Who can afford that much cosmetic surgery?  However, we do enjoy a beautiful oldie being featured in ads for L’Oreal skin cream aimed at women of all ages.  One of our favorites is an ad for Aldi, a German discount grocery chain with stores in the U.S.  It features an older woman, who, after pointing out the teas she buys for her husband, shares with the viewing audience: “I don’t like tea.  I like gin.”

As marketing changes and matures (is that a pun?), we hope to see an end to articles and discussions about ageism being the last politically correct prejudice.  We understand that mockery of older people masks fears of growing old.  We’re guilty.  Remember when we were in our 20s and dissed 30-year olds as over the hill?  Maybe that’s already changing.  A recent study shows that the younger generation’s greatest fear is their phone batteries running low.  We could create a fun analogy about aging, but won’t.

So our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Lift a glass.  Make a toast.  We’re not invisible anymore!  Give to the National Institute for Aging.  Yes, it’s a federal agency, but Congress made an exception and it can accept donations.  And, it’s OUR federal agency.  If an Aldi store comes to your area, shop there.  The management obviously has a great sense of humor.  When advertisements feature seniors in a fun and respectful manner, buy the product— after you Google the reviews, of course.