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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Older women/younger women

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Author Topic: Older women/younger women
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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I often talk a lot, in my personal life and in some of the work I do, about how much of a chasm there can be between older women and younger women, and how much better I think things would be if more older women and younger women really connected.

So, I'm thinking about what it is we can do for each other, what we WANT either group to do for us or with us, what we see our differences or divides as, what places we feel we can connect at.

Let's say, for our sake, that younger women are those in their teens and twenties, and older women in their thirties and upwards.

Whatever group you are in, what do you want from the other group? What do you need?

What do you think you/your group can give and offer to the other? What do you want to offer?

Where are areas where you see the groups as different, and where do you see similarities?

What things do you think keep women of the two groups divided or apart, and what things do you think connect us?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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cool87
Activist
Member # 29292

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Since no one else has replied yet, seems like I'll dive in first.

Whatever group you are in, what do you want from the other group? What do you need?
I need an understanding from them. I’d also like them to treat me as their equal, even though we’re of a different age, it doesn’t mean that I’m any less inferior to them. Too, I personnally think that me being younger doesn’t mean that I’m not able to understand their stuff or anything they might have going on nor does this mean that my point of view or perspective on things is any less valuable than theirs. Also, being younger doesn’t mean that we’ve necessarily had any less life experiences, some younger women might have gone through a lot more difficult times than some older women might have, even though they’ve lived for less long. Too, there is no correlation between age and how accurate one’s judgment is.

What do you think you/your group can give and offer to the other? What do you want to offer ?
I truly think that we can learn from everyone, from every exchange or conversation we have, no matter the age of the person we’re interacting or communicating with. We can learn to have different perspective on things, too, by doing so. We can also learn to be more understanding and respectful I think by communicating with people who might be different, in a way that they might have different values than us or else.

Where are areas where you see the groups as different, and where do you see similarities ?
I see the difference in the life experiences they might have, in their maturity level and the part they are at in their life. I also see a difference sometimes in their mentality, their values or interests which might be different from ours but that is just something that differs from one person to the next.

What things do you think keep women of the two groups divided or apart, and what things do you think connect us ?
I don’t have a general answer for that last question albeit that I think that women issues might connect us. I think it really depends on the particular women we’re interacting with. I think similar interests or life experience might connect us but that is just not going to be something obviously that we are going to share with every women out there.

[ 03-30-2009, 06:35 PM: Message edited by: cool87 ]

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not_a_hobgoblin
Activist
Member # 29206

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Whatever group you are in, what do you want from the other group? What do you need? I need your help and advice to make it in life, to learn from your mistakes. I need you to give me space to grow, but (excuse the corny extension of metaphor) sunshine to help me keep growing. I almost desperately need you to respect me so I don't have to fight so hard to respect myself. I need you to trust me, and I need you to be trustworthy.

What do you think you/your group can give and offer to the other? What do you want to offer? I think I can be someone who listens. I like your stories. I like learning from you. I think my group as a whole has a whole lot of energy, and at my particular age group (college), we're still a little bit formable. I think, that if you respect us and build a relationship with us and share all those great ideas you had when you were our age with us, we just might be willing to try to help you make those happen. I really think that people my age are instrumental to making societal change; we just need you to back us up, and frequently need you to inspire us in the first place.

Where are areas where you see the groups as different, and where do you see similarities? This one's really tough for me. I can start with the personal- my mom and I both wrote poetry in high school, love the outdoors, and are (or in my case, want to be) teachers. We're incredibly similar, and we get along well. But she's one of the only older women I can say that about. Others? Similarities can be goals in life, causes we support, interests (or, in the case of music school, passions), and people we care about. The differences hurt sometimes; when I try to write about them, I keep coming back to the next question, so... *points downwards*

What things do you think keep women of the two groups divided or apart, and what things do you think connect us? With a large majority of older women, I feel rather disconnected- neither of us is really listening to the other person's experiences/thoughts/feelings as valid a significant portion of the time. I feel like the older women I spend most of my time with share a lot of the same goals, and they all want roughly the same kind of life for me and for the issues we care about, but I also feel like it's very hard to get their attention sometimes, and I admit it's hard for them to get mine. And with a noticeable number of older women, I find myself fighting so hard just to try to communicate through radically different culture- to navigate the thickets of social custom and degrees of "respect" and family and backgrounds and our own internal wounds- that it becomes impossible to talk about anything truly important. We can't even manage to talk about the superficial sometimes. I just had a very long discussion last night with my girlfriend about all of the different rules about how we communicate with the people in our lives, and I realized how much energy I expend just trying to talk to you... and then half of the time you don't hear me because I'm not "doing it right" by the rules of communication from your lifetime. And I know I do the same thing; that women my age do this all the time.

*looks up* *deep breath* Now that that's off of my chest... the reason that hurts so much is that there's so many ways we could connect. I want to be able to talk to you about all kinds of things. I want to have you help plan my wedding and help me raise my kids. I want to really get together to come to a consensus about how to protect ourselves from violence. I want to look you in the eye and say, "We have so much in common because we both know what it's like to be a woman out here, what it's like to be a human being out here, and we're never gonna fix all of our problems alone. Let me talk to you.

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"She is a witch!"
"But she's our witch. Cut her down."

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clatura
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I'm in my 30s and thought I could add a view from the older (but not that much older) end of things.

Whatever group you are in, what do you want from the other group? What do you need?
I always like to have contact with people from a range of age groups. I am lucky enough to have quite a lot of contact with younger people through the work I do. What I want from the other group is to be respected as a human being (rather than someone who is not of interest). Other than that I don't see the need to receive anything from the other group. If I can give something I will and if I am appreciated in return I like that (purely because it is nice to be noticed in the world). I would hope is that the younger people will be able to give back, not to me perhaps, but maybe later to someone else who needs it.

What do you think you/your group can give and offer to the other? What do you want to offer?
I think one of the biggest things older people can do is show belief in younger people. Younger people are no less capable of doing things, just (often) less experienced. Sometimes I feel that I can give someone the courage to follow their own path through saying a few well-placed encouraging words. A person in my life did this for me when I was in my 20s and it helped me see that I was already a useful, interesting and worthwhile person in the world. I didn't have to wait until I 'grew up' - a process that never really ends.

Where are areas where you see the groups as different, and where do you see similarities?
It's all very mutable to me. I often see people as people rather than relating them to an age-group. However, in my late 20s after I had spent some years in roles with quite a lot of responsibility, I sought out older women as I figured this would take some of the pressure off. What I learned was that whatever age people are, they will still have good and bad times, crises and breakthroughs. In my case I found, not less responsibility, not more certainty, but long-term friendships and a better understanding of myself and my own habits. Back to the question at hand, though, the major difference I see is that young people generally want to move fast and get things done. There is a prolific energy about this process which has great (if sometimes messy) results. Older people are often less impatient to have things happen and have less anxiety about time. What they can achieve may go deep as they are not pressing themselves in the same way to get to an 'end point' (this doesn't mean ignoring time-frames either). I also think these two propensities can sit well with each other. And of course this is a generalisation.

What things do you think keep women of the two groups divided or apart, and what things do you think connect us?
Social structures which relate to age-grouping including entertainment, advertising, shopping etc keep the groups apart unnecessarily. As humans we often form groups around commonalities and this includes age. It is also what we have done since school - we have friends of the same age and that seems normal. Being in a workplace with people from a range of age-groups tends to break down age barriers. Closer to home, family events such as funerals and weddings tend to either be rites of entrance into a new group or a moment in time where stories are told and everything becomes leveled.

What connects us most though is shared human experience, and maybe we don't share enough. Having come this site (great work by the way) in my 30s still looking for information about sex and sexuality, I really think that there is need for greater openness, particularly between age-groups. None of us have all the answers, but together we have access to a lot more knowledge!

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Jill2000Plus
Activist
Member # 41657

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It's a little late for me to post in much detail, but I will say it's awesome when older adults share vulnerable stuff with me, I know at least one older woman who I've shared tons of stuff with, and they've always shared right back, which is great because it keeps it like a friendship and not like "I'm coming to you for advice in your infinite wisdom", I think it's kind of sad that adults and teenagers sometimes don't get a sense of each other as full individuals, my point being that one thing I do think is good is when different age groups talk to each other, and recognise that each other is living all the time (though I have had my dad dump way more on me than I could cope with in the past and that was terribly difficult, not least because I just ended up feeling like a burden, that I was being used as a therapist because I was there, and not because I was appreciated and my listening and advice giving valued, plus I really needed dad to be there for me then).

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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