Not too long ago I had reason to be in communication with a Millenial who was in charge of project she wanted my help with. Or so she said. The project had to do (loosely) with empowering midlife women. In the course of a 30-minute discussion, I grew increasingly uncomfortable–and horrified–as I realized that for the very first time, I was being patronized.
Me! An accomplished person in her own right.
Someone who doesn’t feel or think her 64 years, much less act it.
Someone who didn’t realize that, yes, in fact, 20-somethings do think she is old. As old as that faded paint in the image above.
I could almost feel those little patronizing pats on the head and it pissed me off.
“Yes, welcome to the world of patronizing Millenials,” said my 86-year-old good friend, when I told her about it. She is a woman far sharper, more creative and more productive than any five Millenials we know. “That generation has absolutely no clue what older women are about.”
Of course she would know this: she’s had decades longer than I to be patronized by younger people. And frankly, I’ve seen it happen to her and wrote about it in a post called Older People are not Plump Babies. But that was five years ago, and now I’m the one being patronized.
Telling my husband about it, I was fairly sputtering with indignation. “Imagine! SHE, has the nerve to tell ME…” He interrupted me with a laugh by finishing the sentence: “….anything but the time of day?”
Exactly. I mean. Seriously.
We are not sad or needy.
But that wasn’t even the half of it. Her depiction of my generation of women (and even younger) was that of sad, un-empowered females who feel badly about themselves and can’t figure out how to be fulfilled by themselves. Her project would help them find their way.
So let’s break it down. I am absolutely in agreement that there are women like that. But, and I am pretty much right about this, THOSE women are not going to be accessing the project she represented. No. Not at all. Because the tremendous gap between what she says her project is about and the women who she says need it is so very clear.
Let’s face it: we live in a day and age when just about any kind of inspirational message or how-to is available online through blogs, websites, YouTubes, podcasts. You can learn anything from how to write a business plan to how to set up an Etsy shop and take advice about everything from the pitfalls of partnerships to the way to turn a creative passion into a revenue stream. Find me a woman who hasn’t at least heard of Brene Brown or TED talks and I’ll bet she lives off the grid. There are so many ways that women can find information they need today. Do we need another one? One that offers nothing different?
And, to be honest, I just don’t see many of those sad, needy women around. Maybe the women I know in my age group are too bright and involved. That could be.
But that’s all beside the point because the truth is I am mostly pissed off at being patronized.
So, the seal of patronization as been broken. It’s happened to me. What I want to know is has it happened to YOU and if so, how you felt and what you did about it?