Who needs all these useless injunctions about what can and cannot be done and which pose obstacles before collective living practices and create new hierarchies, new relations with authority, and new submissions?
In a world where age is used to remind people of their place, challenging the limits has its own place.
“Age limit” fell from grace in my eyes completely when the photographs of no-longer-young women in Gezi, who have actively spent their lives in resistance, were marked as “aunts” by those who were not their actual relatives! The effort to resist the injustices which affected not only young but also old women turned into an accusation of some women of being in a place where they should not be on account of their age.
Well, the hegemonic system regards those who remain outside production as garbage, but how do we, the feminists, who are critical of the power relations, act in the meantime? How do we relate to, conceptualize and live our own age and the age of those who are around us?
Once one falls outside of production, then the monetary and human resources which one used to have decreases; in addition to many other things, it becomes more difficult to access knowledge. However, for some time now (particularly during the pandemic), albeit on online platforms, access to many resources have been more easier and under these conditions and in the face of a world that does not stand still, how can people find appropriate the ideal of “retiring from their jobs and enjoying this retirement period on a secluded corner” and turn their backs on themselves who are yesterday’s producers and today’s creators? What is promised is the position of “the elderly person who talks about past experiences, who should be respected, whose hand should be kissed, who –with all the wisdom and slowness that comes with age– tries to calm people down by saying “oh dear!” At what age does a person forget or cannot remember (or simply buys into this promise or acts as if she believes in it) that she had been a living being till yesterday; when do the people around this person forget, or act as if they forget this reality?
Everyone knows how old they are, right? But how do we know our age? Undoubtedly, there are certain things which come and goes with age; however, is it possible to experience these as they are on a daily basis?
Old age for women (for some men as well) is a period of spending one’s energies on adjectives such as “weirdness”, “improperness” or “compatible properness” while continuing to live one’s own life… It is said that just like the clothes, certain ideas, ways of expression, cognitive moves also have an age. The voice, the hair, the body, the internal and external organs all have an age. Does body language have an age? Yes, it does. While there are some readings based on class and gender, there are also others that focus on age as well. While naming all these, I do not make a hierarchical distinction between them. I do not want to make comparisons with myself or others. Do we have to do comparisons? Really? Am I going to accept this difficulty? No. Should I change my voice? Rather than letting my hair grow and flipping it in the air, should I cut it short or maybe cover it? But, why on earth should I do these things?
Being in today’s world is like being in a place where I should not be in terms of my ideas, achievements, language, gaze, distance, intimacy, and even the body language and style of dress. Why should we not be people who are up to date? Why should we not know the new songs, new authors, new theories?
Just like there are areas where young people/children cannot access, following a reverse logic, there are also areas which are forbidden to all those who are not young anymore. One exists and participates in these areas which are not proper for those above a certain age. Once you enter them, you are treated as if you have lost your way. These are new areas. Areas where narratives starting with “we used to…” are excluded, experiences cannot be transmitted, change is not permitted.
Who needs all these useless injunctions about what can and cannot be done which pose obstacles before collective living practices and create new hierarchies, new relations with authority, and new capitulations?Does the only choice we have is an option where we withdraw from today’s world in exchange for a kiss put on our hand or a world of Botox and hustle which suits our own age or an impossible world where we manage to experience all these things simultaneously?
I do not think that this is the case, things do not have to be this way. It is possible to form self-reflexive relations with our agemates or with those who are not of the same age. I will do this. I hear some of you saying, “good luck with it”. Indeed, this is what I also think. I am giving my kind regards to all of you with (and beyond) all those things that come and leave with age such as wrinkles, cellulitis and flabbiness.
Translator: İpek Tabur
Proof-reader: Müge Karahan