Thanks, Washington Post, but you missed the whole point

I was thrilled that my book, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, was just nominated by the Washington Post Book World’s staff as one of the “100 Best Books to Read at Any Age.” I got queasy when I saw the list was divided into decades—never, just never, a good idea. And I was sickened to see the book recommended for readers age . . . wait for it . . . ninety-four.

Don’t get me wrong: I’d be delighted to have boatloads more readers in their nineties, and it’s not too shabby to be sandwiched between Yuval Harari and Elena Ferrante. But the book’s central message is that ageism affects all of us, and the earlier we become aware of the cultural and economic forces that benefit from age bias, the better off we are. Ninety-four is damn late to get the memo. Overcoming unconscious bias is the work of a lifetime, changing the culture is a task for all ages, and the sooner we embark on it—especially in a world of longer lives—the better.

10 thoughts on “Thanks, Washington Post, but you missed the whole point

  1. Every step you take only shows you how many more steps there are on the path. You are among 100 select classics and well-thought-of “newcomers!” There is far to go, sure, but don’t forget to savor the wins & know that before YOUR book existed 1) your ideas would not have been shared here and 2) there might not have even been a list expecting everyone to be reading & imagining at 100. So congratulations. You have much to feel very good about. Much.

  2. Just think, 94 will one day be the new middle age, who knows what tomorrow holds. You were recognized. You got the win. CONGRATULATIONS

    I for one, am tired of labels; senior citizens, elders, 55 and older, etc. I am tired of isms; ageism, ableism, classism, etc. Such words are an expression of negative prejudgment with the sole purpose to maintain control and power.

    The slogan “power to the people” is difficult to source and find detail on when it was first coined and by whom. Wikipedia states, “During the 1960s in the United States, young people began speaking and writing this phrase as a form of rebellion against what they perceived as the oppression by the older generation, especially The Establishment. The Black Panthers used the slogan “All Power to the People” to protest the rich, ruling class domination of society. Pro-democracy students used it to protest America’s military campaign in Vietnam.”

    Fast forward from 1960 to 2019, I for one think it is time to pull out the old tie dye, and rejuvenate the passion and desires we had in the 60s but this time lets really look at “All Power to All the People”. People of age, we all need to have the ability to undergo a major mind shift.

    I am excited to read the book and learn more about what you are doing.

  3. I love your Ted Talk and cannot wait to read your book. As a sixty-something advocate for empowering women past midlife through erotic writing, I’m in solid agreement that it is never too early to raise awareness about the joys of later life. Many young adults come to the Dirty Old Women readings at the Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland and are thrilled to learn that – contrary to social expectations – passion carries on throughout life. My book, Aphrodite’s Pen, to be published in September, is all about pushing back on ageism by writing our erotic tales.

  4. Just completed your book which gave me the courage to speak up on Twitter, to a person who is constantly making references to “how old people” are or how they think. Finally got fed up with it & posted this:

    More Dena XXXXX Retweeted Alice Miranda XXXXX
    Talk to anyone over 62 and they will tell you how much they hate their healthcare.Dena XXXXX

    Well, since you asked, I’m 70 & like Medicare & the Medicaid that picks up the co-pays & the Medicare Extra Help that pays all but $1.25 of my one Rx. Try not to refer to people of a certain age-whatever it is-as “anyone” of that age, please.


    If u are different from your peers at 20, you will still be there in your 90s.

  5. Just finishing the book up & ran across something that irked me a bit, Ms Applewhite. It is a paragraph about some thoughts your daughter [in law] had about age & interests. I may have misinterpreted it, but tell her that taking arts & crafts stuff to nursing homes has already been done, over and over and… I guess it’s so popular because people assume olders prefer quiet stuff you can do sitting down? I also noted that she is a science teacher. Why not take science class & STEM activities to nursing homes? I detest arts & crafts, always have, but would love to be in a lab group pouring liquids into or on other stuff to see the reaction while learning why. Why is it always arts & crafts? <:

  6. I can see why that irked you, Mick. I don’t like it either when olders are relegated to arts & crafts or playing with toddlers, and I agree that the passage gives that impression. You’ll have to take my word for it, but my daughter-in-law feels the same way, and would love to teach science to olders;

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