The Man Who Wants To Change His Age Because He's Being Ghosted On Tinder Is Totally Missing The Point About Ageism
By Vicky Spratt Posted on 12 Nov 2018
Since turning 30 I have found myself contemplating ageing a lot. There are fine lines appearing on my forehead, I’ve surprised myself by resolving not to throw all of my money at hyaluronic acid. I think the skin under my chin is softening, I can’t be sure but there’s a pocket of sag that I swear wasn’t there before. But, despite all of this, I have mostly been struck by the fact that I’m basically the same person I was at 18 and 25, although certainly happier and, hopefully, a bit wiser.
I’ve surprised myself by the fact that I’m actually alright with growing older (even if I’m not totally at peace with growing up) in spite of the youth-obsessed culture that we all inhabit. Everywhere you look there is subliminal messaging which tells you that if you’re not young, dewy and fresh-faced you don’t matter. This is especially true if you’re a woman. Advertising and social media hold a distorted mirror up to society in which there is nobody under the age of 25. And, at some point in the last five years Botox and fillers have become almost as pedestrian as getting nail extensions.
So, perhaps it’s understandable that 69 year-old Emile Ratelband is worried that he’s over the hill. The Dutch man is currently locked in a legal battle to change his age because he identifies as being 20 years younger. Emile wants to wind back the clock to when he was 49 years-old.
He describes himself as a ‘young god’ and said his legal age of 69 is affecting his employment opportunities and, most importantly of all, his success rate on Tinder. ‘If I’m 49, then I can buy a new house, drive a different car. I can take up more work’ he said, adding ‘when I’m on Tinder and it says I’m 69, I don’t get an answer. When I’m 49, with the face I have, I will be in a luxurious position’.
In a few weeks, a court in the city of Arnhem in the eastern Dutch province of Gelderland will deliver its verdict on whether or not Emile can roll back the years. Until then we’ll have to wait with baited breath to find out whether the world has found a new ambassador to tackle the societal scourge of ageism head on.
Perhaps, then, people will overlook the fact that Emile managed to turn the question of whether anyone can ‘identify’ as younger than they are biologically into a debate about trans rights. Speaking to De Telegraaf he said ‘you can change your name. You can change your gender. Why not your age? Nowhere are you so discriminated against as with your age.’
Never mind that Emile made no reference gender dysphoria (the well-documented condition of feeling that your biological sex does not match your sense of yourself) when he invoked the arguments surrounding people’s ability to self-identify their gender in his endeavour to score with younger women on Tinder. No worries that age dysphoria is most definitely not a thing.
If I was feeling cynical, I might even argue that he was deliberately trying to undermine the current conversation about trans rights in order to get publicity for himself.
The sad truth is this: no matter how fine you feel about getting older, society penalises you for it. Especially if you’re a woman.
Earlier this year the Royal Society for Public Health released a study which found that ageism is rife in Britain. The problem is so bad, they said, that it’s time to band the term ‘anti-ageing’ once and for all in the cosmetics industry. The study also found that women have it worse than men when it comes to the pressure to stay looking young.
And, similarly, in 2017 a report conducted by the Women and Equalities Committee found that age discrimination is a serious problem in workplaces across this country with current laws to guard against it barely being enforced. Once again, this is something that affects older women more than older men. According to the Labour commission on older women, women face the double discrimination of combined ageism and sexism as they get older.
So, how thankful we ought to be that Emile has taken it upon himself to shine a light on all of these issues. Where would we be without him to draw attention to the fact that women not only face sexism at work when they are younger but a double whammy of sexism AND ageism when they hit their best before age of 45 (when, as Dr Ros Altmann’s research finds, women stop being considered for a promotion).
Oh, I almost forgot to mention the gender pension gap! Actually, it seems like Emile did too. In July of this year, a report from Fidelity International warned that young women currently in their late 20s and early 30s faced an 11% smaller pension pot than men by the time they retire because of motherhood and caring commitment which, as we all know, mainly fall on women.
How gallant of Emile – ‘the young god’ - to take up the mantle of this pressing cause because younger women are ghosting him on Tinder. It’s not like women have been banging on about this for years. Nope. So what if his main aim is to get laid? We can overlook that tiny detail, can’t we? What would we do without him!?!? Thank god Emile’s here to save us all.
It’s not like his totally basic ‘if you can change your X then why can’t you change your Y’ argument undermines trans rights or detracts from the real causes of sexist ageism, is it? No, no, not at all.
I’m so pleased we’ve finally found a solution to ageism and, particularly, the discrimination women face as they get older. Once we hit 60, let’s just automatically roll our ages back by 20 years. Forty and fabulous forever! Boom. Problem solved. That’s much easier than tackling the gender pay gap, unpaid care work or sexist discrimination that disproportionately falls at our doors. There’s an added bonus here too – it means we can all work until we die! Who needs retirement? Honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself.
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