Months ago, a friend of mine asked me if she wanted to introduce me to one of her single male friends. Actually I was a bit reluctant, but I tried to accept her good intentions by just agreeing to her polite requests. The person she was introducing was her classmate during her freshman which I, in the other hand, happened to be familiar with. Me and my friend actually took same Uni, even though different major. I am not sure if he has already know me though. Long story short, I was rejected. The reason is because he wants his soon-to-be-wife to be much younger than him. He does not tell this directly to me, but I know the reasons thanks to this friend of mine who seemingly very upset toward this guy’s reason.
Of all the many forms of discrimination, ageism seems less familiar even though in practice are many to be found. After all, we are mostly familiar about discrimination toward different ethnicity, religion, race, etc. To be really really honest, I was shocked! It was shocking that the ageism I have experienced was felt precisely in terms of finding a partner, gaaaah! At first glance, anyone, just like my friend, could think he was so rude, but I can never be angry toward someone’s preferences. If someone get to be angry to me for I prefer K-Pop guys instead of Javanese guys, it surely should be me who get triggerd!! Anyway I think he was polite enough not to tell the truth (or not? anyone can correct my judgement?), he just showing me he was not interested anymore. Me, in the other hand, smart enough :p that I’ve caught the signs and quickly move on without getting a single hurt. Save. But no matter what excuses I have mentioned you might still not believe me and that still okay. This phenomenon clearly hits my nerve and thanks to that I get inspirations to write something.
As far as I experience, ageism are commonly found in workplaces such those considered too old are incapable to work faster or learn slower and those considered young must be inexperienced. These facts alone make me shudder and undeniably cause me uncomfortable since I am planning to stay productive even if I reach my 60s. Writing about this forces me to find the more phenomena of Ageism around me.
Now, what is ageism? I honestly do not really know where to start searching, but once during my school days, I remember that WHO has ever published stats about Healthy Aging. So I start to look first from WHO.
Ageism is the stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination against people on the basis of their age. Ageism is widespread and an insidious practice which has harmful effects on the health of older adults. For older people, ageism is an everyday challenge. Overlooked for employment, restricted from social services and stereotyped in the media, ageism marginalizes and excludes older people in their communities.
Unfortunately, WHO definition in term of ageism is not really representing the facts I am experiencing. The first time I experienced ageism is when I was the youngest student among my classmates. My friends usually call me with anak bawang- for I was the youngest so naturally not expected to help when we were playing baseball, or worse, they mostly did not want to include me on the team. We tend to naturalize that fact and forget if that is one form of ageism. The next two commom facts may be more admittable. I have worked in one of Indonesian’s old private companies where the elderly people never want to be lead by the younger. At glance, the requirements of some specific position mostly are restricted to someone age below 28 y.o, meaning they who are older are incapable to sign up for the job.
Not only in workplaces, ageism are also commonly found in education. In Indonesia, how many people are reluctant to pursue their education at an age considered ‘old’ by society? I do not have the data, but I saw how my mom used to say to my dad that he shouldn’t pursue his doctoral degree, instead think of their children’s education first lols When I skimmed scholarship requirements, I see that the maximum age someone could apply for the scholarship are about 30-35 y.o.
Ageism is a term firstly introduced by Robert Neil Butler to describe discrimination against seniors, and patterned on sexism and racism. Presumably from the beginning ageism was aimed at older people. However ageism recently also has been linked to anyone who’ve been treated unfair due to her/his age. Ageism experienced by younger people is called reserve ageism.
No matter how old we are now, we must realize that aging population are growing. One proof of the success of development is the increase number of life expectancy, meaning there will be less number of premature death, which is naturally meaning there will be more elderly people living. It is said to be a premature death only if the death occurs before the average death in a certain population.
We are, in fact, currently facing the significant growing of elderly people, the fact is inversely proportional to the growth of young age which tends to be constant. It is perfectly okay to always talk about bonus demography, but never forget to think of the ageing population.
The percentage of the elderly population that has reached above seven percent shows that Indonesia has begun to enter the group of old structured countries wkwk seriously. The more developed one country, the more possibility of the people living there to stay productive. In Indonesia, the growing population means the increase number of life dependency (In 2018, about 25%). We are now starting to familiar about sandwich generation. The culture may be changing, but no matter what the possibilities are, we should start cinsidering the possible supporting policies, facilities, or even access toward elderly people. Here I am talking about us as the prospective elderly, insya allah. Our government might start to replicate policies that have been appealed by WHO.
The best part, now we continue the data about the age of marriage. I just happen to know you must be waiting for this part most!
Since the idea of writing this topic comes from the experience before, I am now curious about the age of marriage in Indonesia. As a woman, am I too old to get married, or not?
If we are following the marriage trend in Indonesia, BPS said the trend of early-age marriage are increasing. By early-age means the age less than 17 years. The percentage were at 14,18% and 15,66% sequentially in 2017 and 2018. Now let me check from Susenas Data processed by Lembaga Demografi UI. The data show trends of marriage age are increasing. In 2016 they are 23rd for women and 27th for men. However the data are still broad enough that they cannot yet be generalized since apparently there are vast differences between marriage trends in cities and villages.
I am 27th turning 28th next year and living in city, so briefly I have already been above the average age of marriage. Next, let’s see the data now based on education level. This one is quite interesting 😉
Based on the graph, the higher the education level, the higher the age of first marriage both applied for women and men. Interestingly the difference in age between women and men are not significant, meaning that my age is still in the normal age category of not married🤔. However, the declining trend of married age in highly educated women is also very interesting. Now I do wondering why that happens?
So, when is exactly the perfect age for marriage?
I cannot say surely. In general speaking, I can say it really depends on certain people even though according to this research, the perfect age of marriage should between the age of 28-32.
However I have my own opinion about this matter. By writing this I am not entirely against early-age marriage. In certain country, early-age marriage somehow is needed (Still, I wish both the groom and the bride were not too young and the education access were still open for them). In India, the last time I read early-age marriage are massively believed to prevent their daughters from being raped, correct me if I am wrong and the data were outdated!!! its night here and I am too tired to do the research, might update it later. However personally, I salute to those who brave enough to start a family in early age, anyhow, that choice followed by great responsibilities!
Early-age marriage which recently becomes hype is too simplistic considering the true meaning of marriage. Mentally, are they ready? Still remember the case of a celebrity who married at age of 18 with a Hafiz who is still 22, only yet lasts for 3 months? I am also against to those parents who neglect to look after their children. This might, again, sound boring, however, financial side must also be considered. I often hear the phrase that there is such a thing as rizky-sustenance after marriage. In my humble opinion, I will say there are always berkah-blessing for every good deed, not only about marriage. Just never simplify the fact that married life does not need financial support. The more prepared someone is, including his/her financial circumstances, the better he/she is.
Early-age marriage also ignores facts that women who have sex at an early age are more at risk for cervical cancer which also becomes the 2nd biggest caused of death for women in Indonesia. Moreover female’s reproductive organ under age of 20 are not ready to conceive and give birth which mostly leading to increased risks of maternal death. Lasts, marriage is about commitment. We need to ask ourselves if we are ready to be committed to live with someone maybe so different from us for ever! I do not want to criticize, but the divorce rate in Indonesia has increased.
In the past three years (2015-2017) the trend of divorce in Pengadilan Agama-Religious Courts throughout Indonesia has experienced an increase, data says, with reasons due to financial problems. The data explained that the divorce occurred at the age of marriage less than five years. Three cities with the highest divorce rates in Indonesia are Indramayu, Cimahi, and Cirebon.
On Self – Ageism
Lasts, ageism naturally causes us to start limiting ourselves once we reach a certain age which is commonly called self-ageism.
To be frankly speaking, my family worrying me still being unmarried is at the i-dont-give-a-damn level (I am so sorry, Dad, I know you are reading this but it is just the truth) I am writing this post eventually not for bragging or simply telling anyone that I am okay even though I am unmarried since I have full time job and prospective career. No.
Me and I believe, with the many women out there are constantly being asked to consider when it is about pursuing higher degree or jobs with prospective career path. Ageism at specifically women who are unmarried are quite common. I remember I have read somewhere that this tendency is not only happened in Indonesia, so not merely reason because we are living in Indonesia. If you ever know about Jane Austen’s works, we could see that the circumstances faced by women in her era pretty much same like in Indonesia.
Being able to be committed is good, although not everyone will experience an end which is considered pleasant by societies. Most of the time, people’s accusations are far more terrible than anything. At those specific time, just remember we must be confident and strong enough in our convictions. It is us who understand ourselves best after all. If not, start looking for the answers. They must be the process of us to grow.
Now enough talking about ageism in women. Besides, I believe men also experience pretty much same kinds of ageism about marriage even though maybe the pressure not as hard as the pressure exerted to women.
How could we live the life that age is only a number?
Just tried not to easily label someone based on their own age. In workplace, for instances, never assume young employee as someone who are inexperience. In the same time, as the young employee, never assume someone as old as our parents are slow in learning new things. There must be some specific cases, but that does not mean we can generalize them ^^, By associating ourselves more with older people we could learn their experiences, who knows that they might have interesting experiences when they were young. Hanging out with younger people will remind us how fun it is to be young, to be so eager to learn new things. To think our past experiences could be a help for certain people will ease our heart since sometimes the remorse of past that cannot be fixed can be healed by helping.
So back to my title on this blog posts, what it is to grow old and what it is to grow up, I will say that to me, growing old is a certainty and, in the same time, also a necessity. No matter how old we are, there are no barriers that prevent us from doing anything as long as we can and happy, moreover when they are good for our surrounding. I honestly have kept going back to this questioning childhood’s contemplation in order to learn a trick or two of unpredictable adulthood, to look for answers to riddles shaped of the life accumulated from the past until the unknown futures. Growing up is a choice which proofs of commitment to learn every single time without stopping. Our attitude toward lives are broaden. In my experiences, once we choose to grow up, we will be getting wiser. Growing up naturally helps to slow down the process of us growing old.
PHOTO BY LUKASZ SZMIGIEL ON UNSPLASH