“How Old Are You?” Will You Answer This, Ladies? This Twitter Thread Reveals A Lot!

Posted: June 8, 2019
Tags:

A popular stereotype about women is that they don’t like to reveal their age, but is that true? Or is it sexism and ageism that make them think twice about answering?

“Don’t ask a woman her age and a man his salary,” goes popular wisdom. Salary, I get – it is a deeply personal question whether to a man or a woman, but I have never seen much point in hiding one’s age.

Which is why this discussion on Twitter, initiated by Sunetra Choudhary (National Political Editor for The Hindustan Times) caught my eye.

Her question –if women should own their age or choose not to share it (because it is personal information).

Nidhi Razdan of NDTV replied, “I think there’s nothing wrong with saying how old you are. These are old fashioned notions – don’t ask a woman her age. Why? Why are women expected to be permanently ”young”?”

When a troll asked her to share her age, she did that too, with a dose of snarkiness.

An answer that was retweeted by feminists like Kiran Manral, a popular blogger and author of books like Karmickids, The Reluctant Detectives, and more,

and Karuna Nandy, firebrand Supreme Court lawyer who has also worked at the UN.

“A woman’s worth measured by her youth”

Other users pointed out that sexist and patriarchal beliefs do have a big role in perpetuating stereotypes about women and age (and men and salary).

https://twitter.com/pythpiper/status/1136913613883674627

In a patriarchal society, a woman’s worth is often measured by her youth.

“Marriageable age”

Many women pointed out that, sharing their age openly often led to unwanted consequences. In personal settings, it leads to intrusive questions about marriage and children (which men are often exempted from, irrespective of age!)

and other unwelcome attention.

Combination of sexism & ageism at work

In professional settings, sharing one’s age invites not only sexism, but also ageism.

https://twitter.com/A2D2_/status/1136898328816340992

One user pointed out that she had lost projects because clients wanted to work only with someone under 30.

Pallavi Ghosh of News18 agreed, saying that organizations have double standards wherein older men are valued for their experience, but older women are not hired.

Equations with co-workers are also adversely affected.

“It’s personal”

For others, who believed in aging gracefully, it was still too personal a question to ask, irrespective of gender.

Older women expected to let go of dreams

One cannot deny that society places many restrictions on women based on their age. They are expected to get married and have children by a certain age, and then at a later age, they are expected to let go of their dreams, ambitions and preferences and “act their age.” Those who don’t live within these “lakshman rekhas” are gossiped about and criticized.

Above this age? You’re an “aunty”

Unfortunately, many women often play along by changing their attire, their habits and their daily activities. They “auntify” themselves, because of the social pressure to do so.

Some women start late, so what has age got to do with it?

Sexism, when it intersects with ageism truly stifles a woman’s potential. That is why it is worth remembering that age is just a number.

Many popular female writers, including greats like Urusla K LeGuin and Arundhati Roy, became debut novelists only after the age of 35. And Shukla Lal, who has recently published her second book, and has two more in the pipeline, published the first one only after she was 80!

Tamae Watanabe became the oldest woman to climb Mount Everest at age 73.

Man Kaur, a 102 year old athlete, won 100m gold at the World Masters Games at Auckland, New Zealand, last year. And who can forget 96 year old Karthyani Amma, who we all cheered for when she scored 98% to top the Kerala literacy exam. These women, and many others, are proof that the advice to “act your age” is a major scam!

Lastly, my favourite tongue in cheek tweet about the age question comes from writer Sukanya Venkatraghavan, who says she is, “5876 years old but I look 42. Hashtag best time of my life. I live in a house made of bones and will eat anyone who asks stupid questions.”

https://twitter.com/suku06/status/1136943360273293312

Image source: Twitter

Liked this post?

Register at Women's Web to get our weekly mailer and never miss out on our events, contests & best reads! Or - get a couple of really cool reads on your phone every day - click here to send us a Whatsapp message.

Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views. Individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times. If you have a complementary or differing point of view, you can request to be a Women's Web contributor too!

Vijayalakshmi Harish is a book blogger and writer. To paraphrase her librarian, she is a

Learn More

How equality is also a business imperative?

Comments

Share your thoughts! [Be civil. No personal attacks. Longer comment policy in our footer!]

NOVEMBER's Best New Books by Women Authors!

Get our weekly mailer and never miss out on the best reads by and about women!

Do you know a woman who has returned to work?