LACY, silver action, talking and doing.

It was expected that Lacy’s event at the Tate would trend on Twitter. It did not. But today two days after the event at last yes Growing Old Disgracefully were mentioned apparently interviewed by Lacy. I was not aware of their presence and neither were the people at my table or at the workshop. Anti-oil activism was the only activism mentioned on Twitter until today. It occurs to me that the problem of the whole project was  that it was focused on talking and being constrained to remain at our table limited in space and time.

Activism is doing. Old women are activists in  all spheres of political action, resistance, and fights for justice and in Art and Education. There are old women active and influential in the Peace movement, in the  Occupy movement, in the Green and Climate Change movements, in the education of young women and in the fight for the National Health Service, in Pensioners Forums  and other organisations that are fighting for a fair and just word.  And of course old women are volunteers in a host of charitable organisations. They are activist in the family too. All these women are invisible in real life because they are not considered as old but exceptional in their own activist group or else dismissed because they are in the caring field.  It is the ‘my best friend is Black, Jewish, Moslem, Old’ effect.

But also we have internalised this ageism. If we are energetic and healthy we say ” we are not old” even if we have to dye our hair and have plastic surgery and Botox injections.  If we are hard of hearing we do not raise our voice to ask for people to project their own.  We do not demand from the organisers of every demonstration to have special arrangements for old people who cannot walk or stand for hours. In feminist conferences there are old women on the panels but they do not mention that their expertise is due to age. There are  no workshops about what is like to be over 60. What is the journey from the age 60 to 90+ like? What is our contribution as older women to society, and what are our fears. Our past may be recognised but our present is not acknowledged.

I dream of an event in the tanks where old women would come and mill around with the audience showing placards of their field of action past and present local or universal. Where the walls would be plastered with photos of old women in protest. Where women in wheelchairs and their carers and grandmothers and grandchildren would mix with everybody else….

I dream… I dream …


1 thought on “LACY, silver action, talking and doing.

  1. Unfortunately I dont have time to respond in detail but just to let you know that I have read this and the previous 2 posts about silver action.

    I am not sure why women agreed to take part in what was essentially an “art” project, where inevitably the participants were objects for the visitors to look at. (artisitic objectification?)

    But also what it raised for me as some of an age who could have participated, what is it that stops older feminists from meeting up, creating their own oral history recordings, history blogs and so on.

    Some of us on the outside gawping in did speculate that it is perhaps an historical hangover that however much 70s feminism (Ie the WLM) is presented as a goldern age of sisterhood in fact the frictions and factions still exist and that far from idenifying with other women, we are only able to identify as women when in a neutral or orchestretated evenviroment.

    I have seen a copy of the follow up email which states the Tate cant be responsible for setting up a facebook page. So why dont the participants just do it? Dont tell me none of you exchaned contact details?

    But the question your 3 posts seem to ask if why is no one listening to me? I think unfortunately each of us may value our own histories, but as we ourselves based actions on commone experiences found through consciousness raising you cant expect other generations to share your experience.

    If you still want to be regarded as having something of value to activism, then there is no reason not to be part of current activisms, or even forming a Silver Action campagin group that provides say feedback on issues so as to ensure the needs of older women are recorded.

    I experience older feminist activists happy in what are now in effect friendship groups rather than the activist or campaign groups they once were. In this way they remain isolated from current action but also exclude others.

    Do any of the groups you are part of do outreach work. (I’m not excluding myself from this tendancy myself, but the last 2 groups I joined with the intention of building on the work of older feminists ground to a halt because it turned out none of us wanted to move on, we just wanted to re-live or re-state our analysis of 30 years ago.)

    I think current feminist activism is overly simplistic and anti diverse. My memory of the past when it was harder to distribute and share materials, is that we made more effort to discuss and move forward political arguements. Ironically because the internet makes it so easy to form groups of like minded people, we can all sit comfortably at our keyboards escaping into the bubbles of our self re-inforcing others.

    We dont seem to have been able to make the movement continuous. Somehow the idea of sharing common aims to build action is no longer the ruling ethic. This has been turned on as something that suffocates others. So now we have endless “new” feminist groups starting up because they each want to be the “owner” of feminism. Why allows the system to then, when it suits them, promote or drop whichever feminism is the flavour of the month. And we all wait for it to do this.

    So divide and rule – as ever

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