Abuse Based on Age

What is "age-ism"?

Age-ism is the chronic discrimination of a person because they are younger or older than someone else or a group of others. It is much like racism or class-ism. In the United States, the media still abounds with images of what our ideal age range "should be." Motion pictures rarely, if ever, feature a very old leading lady as the sexy diva, an older man as the perfect choice for rock climbing, a very young man as a person of self-control or a young woman as the epitome of great intellect. Although there has been increased awareness and some legislative improvement, there is still very little literature that exists which actually affirms individuals of different ages as having the same range of skills or value as their counterparts. There is also a false assumption that those who are older have less sexual drive than younger people. Sexual libido/activity is not related to a person's age.

Many people within the BDSM community have the misconception that someone who is younger cannot be a Dominant, Mistress, Master or Daddy, or that someone older will not make a good submissive or bottom because they are too "set in their ways". This is not necessarily true. Each person is an individual and has their own identity, preferences and needs. Negotiate with new partners to determine their identity and interests – do not assume them. There is also no reason why adults of extreme age differences cannot be partnered or enjoy each other sexually or physically. No one deserves to receive discrimination, abuse or ridicule in any form, and no judgment should be made about what is right or wrong for consenting adults that do not seek to harm anyone.

It should be noted that within the U.S. there are legal statutes for what constitutes adulthood and most (if not all) BDSM organizations adhere to these rules to determine their own age of consent.

What is considered abusive age-ism behavior?

Since mainstream society is still not fully accepting of extreme age differences in partnerships or the very young or elderly in general, moral and social judgments and discrimination are still commonplace. Abuse and domestic violence within BDSM relationships are frequently overlooked, discounted, tolerated or accepted because there appears to be no public support or there is the fear of "outing" or of being "outed". Abusive behaviors towards the elderly and to young adults often comes in the form of restricted support, exclusion, invalidation or restriction on their contributions or involvement. Random House Webster's Dictionary defines abuse as "to use wrongly or improperly" and "to treat in a harmful, injurious or offensive way." Abuse can and does occur to the young and old alike, and if the partners are or have been intimates, then it is considered domestic violence. In either case each party should get help quickly.

What does abuse based on age look like?

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Dr. Gloria Glickstein Brame
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