Bias Against Elder Writers

By Annette Rey

It is my hope the playing field is level for all women writers, but I fear that hope is still unrealized in today’s world. I recently read a post of outright bias against older women seen at writers’ conferences, calling them “sixty-plus someones.” The condemning writer disparaged the elders’ clothing style, feeling the style is somehow attached to the elders’ lack of love of writing and lack of desire to improve their craft.

In commenting on the clothing, the writer was impertinent enough to say, “I mean really!”

In response to that crippled observation I would say, elders have matured to the seriousness of life. They mirror-watch less and don’t find it necessary to spend valuable mental time comparing themselves to others. It is what they contribute that they hope matters.

The writer did not personally know the people she viewed, so how could she make such statements about their inner motivations? This is outright ageism bias and the writer is so blind as not to see her own limited vision.

The writer also said the young are resilient and believe they can make it one day. So more so is the plodding hope of the elder who is still resilient. They possess a resilience that has been tried through difficulty and is still holding true. Attendance at conferences should be a sign they are engaged in the writing world. And the older hope what they produce on paper should be what is measured.

I would like to point out that older writers have an uphill struggle. Their time to make a writing mark is limited. They are aware the market prefers to look upon the young. Getting out to conferences and the like is harder and may be not as affordable as when they worked full-time.

The writer said the way the elders dressed implied they do not “take my writing life seriously.” Just what does this writer think is the appropriate garb to broadcast that feeling?

I do feel writers should concern themselves with looking professional and not give in to a Columbo-style appearance. But if they do, I see them as individuals and would not judge their character or their writing ability by a wrinkled coat.

Clothing or age is not the tool by which we can see inside another person and place value on them. As writers, let us please remember not to carry an attitude of immaturity and ignorance as we meet with other writers. Be fair and accepting, one of another.

The pen makes us all equal.

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