WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT:
Old women must be treated as equal to
other adults. We reject both contempt and "respect" on the
basis of age, but rather celebrate honest exchange between
generations. If we can have relations of equality, people
can see for themselves whether we have "wisdom and experience."
Some of us do. (Sometimes old women fall into wanting "honor
and respect" just because women get so little respect throughout
our lives that we feel we should at least get some pay-off
at the end. Besides, we're aware that if we don't get special
"respect," we usually end up with special contempt. But we
also remember when "respect" for women was used as a reason
to deny us the vote.)
Old women can and must speak out to demand
this equality for ourselves and other old women. This breaks
the taboo against old women asking for ourselves rather than
for "future generations." But our own lives matter, and future
generations of old women depend on us to end ageism.
Ageism disempowers all women. As long
as younger women gain false power by distancing themselves
from old women, the 35-year-old loses power by not being 25.
The word "old" is a statement of fact,
not a matter of shame. We claim it, believing that as long
as it is humiliating to be called old, it will be humiliating
to be old.
WHO WE ARE:
For those who asked to join The
Old Women's Project, we are not a membership organization.
We are three San Diego women — Mannie Garza, Janice
Keaffaber, Cynthia Rich — who have worked together on
progressive issues for over a decade. As The
Old Women's Project, inspired by the work of Barbara
Macdonald, we have organized a number of actions, large and
small, here in San Diego. Our first was the Women's Mobilization
for Low-Cost Housing on International Women's Day 2001, which
launched the current affordable housing movement in San Diego.
We have organized women-only anti-war actions in San Diego,
including the "Women Don't Buy This War" protest
on 1-19-03, "Women Will Not Be Silenced/No War"
on 2-10-03 and the silent vigil bearing witness across international
borders, "We Mourn With the Women of Iraq," on 3-22-03.
(carrying our large Old Woman puppet) in many progressive
actions by other groups, such as the Home Health Care worker's
rally for a living wage, four actions by California Coalition
for Women Prisoners, rallies protesting the demolition of
the single room occupancy hotels downtown, the Dyke March
in Hillcrest, and many more.
Our purpose is to make visible the
reality that old women have our own personal stake —
not solely in issues such as Medicare, Social Security, prescription
drugs, nursing homes, as vital to our survival as those are
— but in all issues of social justice: Old women are
raped, battered, trapped in the prison system, are caregivers
as well as care recipients, need affordable housing, try to
raise children in poverty (many of us find ourselves having
to raise our children's children), face racism, anti-Semitism,
hostility against Arabs, homophobia, ableism, and more —
and are on the frontlines facing the impact of war and its
aftermath. At the same time as we work to end these conditions,
we work to end old women's invisibility in these struggles.
BUT OUR WORK WOULD NOT EXIST WITHOUT YOU — THE WONDERFUL
WOMEN WHO JOIN US IN OUR ACTIONS. WE ESPECIALLY WELCOME OLD
WOMEN, BUT WOMEN OF ALL AGES ARE WARMLY ENCOURAGED TO PARTICIPATE.