Feminist Exclusive: No expiration date on activism

Friday June 15 (that’s tomorrow!!) marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Acknowledging that both feminist activism and sexual violence cross all boundaries, I asked a member of our lifespan project team to provide some insight on aging in the anti-violence movement. See the full response below:


Age is tricky. Those of us who would be considered young by advertising standards have a pretty privileged place in the world. We never have to go too far to find folks on tv and in the movies who look like us (through surgical miracle or otherwise). It’s cliché to say we are a society obsessed with youth but doesn’t that seem really true? That’s not to say I am a bad person (or that you are). Rather I think I’ve fallen prey to the idea that age is a determining factor for how you are supposed to live your life. You learn in your youth, you live as an adult and you reflect and enjoy life as you age.That’s bunk. You learn all the time, you live from day one and if you aren’t enjoying life, regardless of your calendar age, Google cute puppies pronto.

Fact is when it comes to activism I think we get trapped into linear thinking as well. We think that the young activists are callow, the adult activists are hitting their stride and the older activists are well—cranky, recalcitrant, set in their ways, and stubborn (oh my bad, it’s just me who thinks that stuff). Fact is we are all a little cranky, recalcitrant, etc., in my experience. We all have room and need to grow as well. It’s up to us as activists to see how the more we embrace diverse points of understanding the stronger our movement becomes.

This week we are working hard to support World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. We are doing that work not just by talking about the violence and how it affects adults in later life, but also by honoring the experiences you’ve had with elders in your life. If you’ve been an activist for forty years or forty minutes you have a story to tell. Someone came before you, someone is coming after you, and we can do ourselves a favor by recognizing the importance of all.


Benje Douglas is the Project Manager for the Lifespan Project at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. He provides training, resources, and assistance on all aspects of responding to sexual violence throughout life stages. This year’s topic focus is sexual violence in later life. Request additional information and resources by emailing resources@nsvrc.org.


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