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Daily Breakthrough 1977-11-19
Pages 19 and 20
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Daily Breakthrough 1977-11-19 - Pages 19 and 20. November 19, 1977. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. September 30, 2014. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/6372/show/6354.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(November 19, 1977). Daily Breakthrough 1977-11-19 - Pages 19 and 20. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/6372/show/6354

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Daily Breakthrough 1977-11-19 - Pages 19 and 20, November 19, 1977, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed September 30, 2014, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/6372/show/6354.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Daily Breakthrough 1977-11-19
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date November 19, 1977
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 37 page periodical
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332726~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Pages 19 and 20
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women--Texas--Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see the UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the “About” page of this website.
File name femin_201109_534as.jpg
Transcript COMING OF ASE Interviews by Cathy Cashion EUDORA WELTY: "I don't really like people knowing my age, but nobody does. I don't like to feel that it's public property, that it is okay to ask someone how old they are, because I would never ask someone how old they are. I don't really care, I guess, but just like other parts of my private life, I would like to keep it private. "In the South's old way of looking at things, the great belle remained the belle for all her life, with everyone dancing attendance. You know that kind. I don't think that's very prevalent anymore. In fact, I think it is an anachronism, and shouldn't be prevalent. I think we have to live with real life, and not count on people flattering us with, 'Oh, you're just as young as you ever were.' I think we have to be realistic. K| want to do as much as I ever did,and I don't want to slack of fV "I haven't had any trouble so far doing the things that I used to do, but I notice the difference in the effort it takes, and that's a bore. It is boring to think that you can't ignore things like that. Because the thing is, I want to do as much as I ever did, and I don't want to slack off. "I like the idea of not forcing people to retire, because that's exactly the way I would feel. I want to keep working as long as I possibly can and would be miserable not doing so. And I feel many professional people, like teachers, only gain in responsibility and value as they grow older. And that is good that that is being recognized and allowed to be a factor. I don't see how you can make a general rule. There are some people who ought to quit functioning when they are 45, and others can go on as long as they live. I think it's terribly individual, and that's one of the things I think a law would have a hard time coping with." Eudora Welty, writer Admitting Your Age By Wendy Haskell Meyer Louise Nevelson, sculptor BARBARA JORDAN: "I would favor removing the mandatory retirement age completely, as long as it remains voluntary. Those that want to work longer, let them work longer. But if they want to retire, let them retire. I object to the mandatory element altogether. "The only thing that changing the mandatory retirement age from 65 to 70 does is to permit those who desire to work longer to work longer, but it certainly does not remove discrimination on the basis of age. But, as you probably know, most bills now concerning removal of discrimination, and the establishment of basic rights, do include a proviso of no discrimination on the basis of age along with the other traditional things which are included in such legislation, like race, sex and religion. "...Changing the mandatory retirement age...certainlydoes not remove discrimination on the basis of age." "The House removed altogether the ceiling on the amount of money a person who receives Social Security may earn without losing any of his Social Security. The Ways and Means Committee voted to raise the amount of money one could work and earn, and still receive Social Security, from its present level, about $3,000, to ultimately $4,500, and that was the approach I favored. I voted against removing the ceiling altogether because I think Social Security ceases then to be an insurance- type program, which it is supposed to be, for people whose regular earnings have stopped. But if you are going to say, 'Corporate Executive, you may continue to make $300,000 a'year and receive Social Security,' then I think that gets a little bit bizarre, and of course I've given an extreme example, but the point is still made." LOUISE NEVELSON: "The French women have always said if you'll tell your age, you'll tell anything, right? Women have always concealed their age because they were playing up either to get married or not to get married, or to get a job you had to be younger. I'm so proud of my age, every day that I get old and what I've done every day, that I couldn't possibly feel anything but pride. I just had a birthday, I'm 78, and my richest time is even now. I mean on all levels. My work is reaching into greater areas, my own development and awareness of these things and certainly I still have a great many friends of both sexes, and, you know, there's no let-up on anything. So why should I conceal my age, for what reason? "Also, I think it is a state of mind. I like to keep the mind very clear, and I don't want any hidden secrets upstairs here in my head. And if I had to conceal my age, that would just be another burden to me. "A person like myself, and there are others, we've been public people now since 1940 or earlier, so, say, almost 40 years. Well, if you've been held up and accepted by the press and by the public as a professional artist of standing, well, of course as you get older, more or less, your reputation is enhanced. That's different than the everyday other kind of work." Barbara Jordan, U.S. representative Gloria Steinem, writer I editor GLORIA STEINEM: "The whole phenomenon of discovering a bright, new face, whether it is in Hollywood, or Washington, or in the legal profession, or anywhere, is an age bias. There are many people who reach their productive peak or change their profession or accomplish something substantial—probably most people—at an older age. And yet they aren't paid the same attention. We (at Ms.) made a conscious effort to be the first and only women's magazine that has ever put old women with wrinkles on the cover. If you'll notice the other women's magazines, you'll see that they never have someone, on the cover who does not appear to be young and pretty. They may be a bit older than 22, but still they look 22. "I tried to drum up some feeling of panic upon reaching 40, but I really couldn't. I thought that one was supposed to, and I thought it might actually be helpful, because I think one of the good functions of the realization of ageing is that you make better use of your time. Unfortunately, I'm afraid I still think I'm immortal. "I think it's important that the lobby of older people has apparently succeeded in getting the mandatory retirement age extended. You have to do that with care, because it is a social step one has to do in stages, so you make sure you don't deprive young people of jobs. But in fact it seems that people who can afford to retire are the ones who do retire, and the ones who are poor and need to work are the ones who work. It ends up being rather just in the long run, and still making the same number of jobs for younger people. Unfortunately, I noticed that the Administration failed to remove the salary limit for Social Security. I think they should do that. You've paid that money; you should be able to get it out." MARGARET MEAD: "The older people I knew when I was a child were all lively, alert people, so that I grew up with an expectation that older people would be lively and alert. Whereas in this generation, the younger people are growing up seeing a great many very feeble old people who are- being kept alive like vegetables. So that this generation is afraid of age, afraid of ageing. You see, they are not afraid of death, but they are afraid of ageing. I had two grandmothers who were both very alert. One of them died at 97. So I had people in the family, and a very few people in the neighborhood. But I never saw one of these slow, dependent deteriorations that are sot frequent todav. Kl grew up with an expectation that older people would be lively and alertw "I think the government should be working on the creation of communities where older people can live with the rest of society. And this is primarily a question of housing. The way we have been building in the last 30 years, we build houses that are suitable for only one age group, you see, and there's no place for people to retire within the communities where their children and grandchildren live. That segregates them from young people, robs the young people of the presence of the old people, and the old people of the participation in ongoing life." Margaret Mead, anthropologist MAYA ANGELOU: "I've paid dearly for the years. I wouldn't say nothing has been given to me. Each day I work to make it a worthwhile day, and each year I have, thank God, some achievement. I'm very proud to be my age. I'm very grateful. "My mother used to be told—she's very young-looking and very fit—when I was growing up, and even as an adult, people would tell her, 'Vivian, you shouldn't say Maya is your daughter; you should say she's your sister.' She used to say, 'Listen, she owes me nine months carrying charge and a 10-month milk bill that she can never repay. And I want it always known that she's my daughter.' In the same way, I have no compunction about admitting or relishing my son's age. I'm proud to have a son who is 31. And usually when I say that, people's mouths drop and they are startled. But he's paid for his 31 years, and am I to deny him five years or 10 years by saying he's 21? *fAs I approach 5QI find myself possibly freer." "I am a person with, I suppose, the ordinary sexual needs. Or not maybe ordinary, but the usual needs of human beings; ordinary makes it seem dull. I have a sensuality because I enjoy life. I enjoy it all. As I approach 50, I find myself possibly freer. That doesn't come from the pregnancy potential, because I haven't had that for many years, but I am happily married. That takes a lot of the edge, the frustration, the negative edge off of sexuality, because I'm happily married. I don't have to go to look for Mr. Goodbar." CARMEN VOTAW: "I think one's perspective changes with age, and perhaps one of the things that it does is temper a little bit your approach to things. But I- don't feel that it changes very much the impatience that one feels about things that are undone in terms of society; things that you feel need to be done and that are not being done. I don't think it tempers that kind of impatience with systems and attitudes and so on. But it makes you more thoughtful, I think. It makes you look into things more deeply. "I think that older women may be viewed by others as less sensual or desirable, but I think the vitality of a person is really what makes her magnetic or attractive or call it what you may. And that is something that some people have at any age, and others don't. And I think that one can perceive people at different ages having that quality of tremendous attraction and it is involved in the personality. So I think that society as a whole views women as 'over the hill' much earlier than they view themselves individually as 'over the hill.' On the whole, I think that sexual attraction is something that can last for a long time according to people's personalities and their vitality and dynamic approach to things." Remember when you were 12 and wanted so badly to look 16? Or perhaps when you were 17 and needed to be 21? Looking older was a gift then. A ticket. An entree into the real world, to freedoms, rights, responsibilities. Remember that the next time you are asked your age. Analyze why you may be tempted to shave a few years off the true number. Think carefully about what that white lie is doing to you and to everyone else who, like yourself-for none of us is immune-must grow older. When you lie about your age, you affirm your fear of being treated as a lesser person should you enter that indefinable period of life when you are "older." And your lie says to yourself and the world that to be older is to be back where you may have found yourself in adolescence: when you felt powerless, unemployable, restricted, dependent, intractable, difficult, a child. A Heavy Investment Lying about your age is your affirmation that old is awful: ergo, if you are old, you will be awful. Lying about your age is like "passing" for white when you were black and living in a Southern city in the 1950's. Lying about your age is like pretending you were gentile in Germany in the 1930's. It's a way you may have perceived of disassociating yourself from a group that has been, in our culture (but by no means in every culture), stripped of dignity and power and labeled and stereotyped as, yes, powerless, unemployable, restricted, dependent, intractable, difficult, childlike. But there's a difference here. Your investment is heavy, because unlike the pale Negroid and the blond, snub-nosed Jew, who could escape the stereotypes permanently, you cannot forever put off this label of "older." Eventually it must come to you as to us all. I send this message especially to women and men now in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, because I believe we are the generation that will change the stereotypes about age. Sadly, I do not address this as much to women and men over 60; it may be too late for them. With many wonderful exceptions (who could easily become the rule if our expectations will but change), vast numbers of the millions of persons over 65 accept their place as somehow-diminished human beings. Talk of age power may be as meaningless to them as was talk of black power to older blacks who had been servants for a lifetime. I realized this when I spoke to the director of a Houston senior center about the possibility of politicizing the several hundred men and women who come there every day for cards and conversation. No, she said, they would not be the least bit interested in associating themselves with something like the Gray Panthers, a militant group championing senior rights. No, she said, these quiet conservatives were not concerned with anything but getting along on their Social Security checks and passing time . . .waiting . . . Waiting for what? Certainly not for me. Society's Other Myths So to whom do I speak? I speak to women more than to men because ageism is more intense and insidious in women. This stems from society's other myths: that women are twice as diminished by age as men; that it's okay for older men to take up with young women but not for older women to pair off with young men; that it is permissible for an older man to have some remnants of sexual vigor (although even he may be accused of being "a dirty old man") but that older women's sexual desires dry up as certainly as does their menstrual flow. And I'm speaking to every man and BETTY FRIEDAN: "When I was quite young myself, I would have thought a woman of my age was quite old. And now I feel quite young. When I was in my late 30s, I felt older than I did when I was in my late 40s. After I wrote The Feminine Mystique, and all of life started opening up for me, I felt younger somehow than I did earlier. As long as I really move in my own life, then age doesn't concern me. I think it's a different phenomenon for different people, depending on what you are really doing with your life and in your life. ti As long as I move in my own life, then age doesn't concern me. w "There's such a vitality in people now in their 50s and 60s and even their 70s. My own mother is 78 and she's wonderful and full of vitality. These are people who, as they have this vitality and are very knowledgeable, are not going to settle for being shunted aside. I think that there should not be forced retirement at 60 or 65. I think that the interests of those who are that age coincide with the interests of men and women in childbearing years, that there should be shorter and flexible hours of work." Betty Friedan, founder of NOW Maya Angelou, poet Carmen Votaw, national comrrnssvoner Marabel Morgan, author woman-young, middle-aged, or old—who thinks his or her youthful appearance is more important to survival and happiness than is making plans for the next 40 years. Your looks may change, and wrinkles (I like to call them character lines) will come, but if you use your mind and body to their fullest, there is strong evidence that your vigor—mental, physical, spiritual, and sexual—will not be lessened. As my 80- year-old friend, John Carley, told me shortly after receiving his Ph.D. in health and physical education at the University of Houston last summer: "If you don't keep your mind challenged, you'll lose it. It's such a gradual process that lots of folks don't know it's happening until it's too late. I'm going to wear out, not rust out." John Carley's advice about retirement is "Don't." Dr. Alex Comfort, geron- tologist and author of A Good Age, believes old people are deluded by not realizing that retirement is unemployment. He urges us all to make a middle-age reassessment aimed at planning what he calls one's "second trajectory," or second career, and gives some specific strategies for doing so. Read Comfort's book and, next time you are tempted to he about your age, remember that you are affirming the myth that getting older is, despite the ads, not better, that it is entry onto the slopes for an all-downhill run. Why not recall instead that it's just aseasy to die climbing a mountain as from malnutrition? Probably easier, in fact. You cannot stop your chronological clock from ticking on, minute by minute and year by year. But you can do something about people's attitudes about aging. MARABEL MORGAN: "Whenever I am asked about my age, I do not feel uncomfortable in any way. I am proud to be age 40. I feel young, in fact younger than I did at 21, and proud of my accomplishments. "I have not lied about my age for many years. When I was younger, I probably pretended I was a bit older than my actual age, but now there is no need to kid anymore, especially myself. As a wife, mother, author and president of my own organization (The Total Woman), I am thrilled with the plan that God has for me. In Proverbs 31:25, the writer says that a woman who fears the Lord has no fear of old age. As the years go by, in His plan things just get better and better." Prophecies have a way of being fulfilled because people's attitudes and expectations make things happen that way. I'm not advising that anyone give up trying to look attractive, fashionable and up-to-date. That is as much a choice to those persons now in their 50s as it was in their 20s. But looking fashionable need not be synonymous with looking younger. I was as saddened as a little girl to see my 65-year-old grandmother with red hair ribbons in her bleached hair as I am today to see an 11-year-old in a padded bra, lipstick, plucked eyebrows and heels. I would like to see men and women over 45 celebrate their age with enthusiasm, delight and pride. Without shame or apology. Maybe it will take hundreds of us, affirming our wonder and pleasure in anti- Continued on page 34 PAGE 18 NOVEMBER 19, 1977 DAILY BREAKTHROUGH DAILY BREAKTHROUGH NOVEMBER 19, 1977 PAGE 19