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Why why. Welcome to woman. Tonight is the first of the
women for the National Organization for Women. Thank you. Very much. But much more likely to be poor women more than they do. There are. More than four times as many as for example because women don't have the opportunity. With our concepts of beauty that men women marry younger women who are women. Which means that the major major problems of aging loneliness poverty and
even ill health likely ending up in a nursing home happen much more frequently to women than to men. And many of those very problems occur because of women's role in society that we do really have a double standard for aging doubtfully. Very definitely. A Man For example in his 40s is hitting his stride particularly if he's employed still and is generally hitting the height of his power and his financial status and so on. But women at that time in particular in her 50s is likely to find that her job is over she experiences kind of forced retirement with the empty nest syndrome. Often if she hasn't been working if she's been a homemaker she finds it very difficult to get a job and she's often particularly as no fault divorce is increasing all over the country finds herself dumped in the middle years. And it's the result suicides for women for example in the middle years
men after their retirement at age 65 which is an another differences. In the mating game the man is the older woman. Because men look for a younger woman particularly when they remarry. So that. They generally have someone to take care of them as they grow. The patterns of aging are different too aren't they for for men then they are for women. Particularly the traditional role. If a woman stays home and takes care of her family. That's her life. That's where she gets her status. If she loses that job she will when the children grow she no longer has a sense of her own own importance her own value to society and so on. She experiences all of the sense of being out of the mainstream that a man does at 65. It's a different pattern a different timing. And also I think this is compounded by the fact of her economic status because if you're poor and old it's much harder.
One of the things I think would that will bother me the most about being older is the dependency. Yes that seems to be something that that no one can do anything about at this point. Particularly a woman is particularly vulnerable as a dependent when she grows older. She's been a dependent on her life as a homemaker for example. She may find that she is not eligible for Social Security benefits if her marriage comes to an end. Or if you don't say you know in the 50s she may not be eligible for AFDC her children are grown she falls into the gap and isn't eligible for anything and that's AFDC Aid to Families with Dependent Children right. The welfare in this country so that she finds that she has none of the protections that men have if she loses her job a homemaker. Yet she is particularly vulnerable so dependency is a large part of it. And then of course when men become lose their jobs.
So when the 65. And only a small percentage are able to continue really those who have been in power. Have an opportunity to continue with their jobs. Then they experience some of the same thing but it happens later in life. There seems not to be the same concern for women who are retired that there is for men. We talk about what is the man going to do when he retires we talk about forced retirement rather than a choice of retiring what can we do about that. Well I think first have to recognize that homemaking is work like any other and that because it's work and that there is a certain period of retirement from it that women have to prepare for second careers or second ways of livelihood in order to have to be able to avoid dependency traps. But in addition for that we have to change some of the society's. Biases. For example the Age Discrimination is a very potent
factor in that we have to make some changes in it it's true for men now that there's a certain amount of age discrimination going to but it is more true for women. Well it's compounded by the fact that a woman is often out of the job market for so long. So according to the employer she has had no recent job experience. She hasn't been working reasonably although she's been raising a family she's had the responsibility for the home and so on. But that kind of work has not yet been recognised. For women and men age discrimination is particularly difficult but. It's compounded for women both in terms of there's no recent job experience with also because men look for women. For the women that they employ. The qualities that they are looking for in other words young women they like to be surrounded by young women as part of their own Hedy hang ups. And that they're for many many types of jobs are really. Limited to. Young women.
Airline hostess for example. Why is it important for example an airline hostess should be young. But. That's very difficult to break into. Past. 25 in. The economic situation for older women is so depressing. You read the figures. I mean it's just incredible. It's also depressing for older men but it's especially for older women. That's that's really the most important factor. Poverty does it all come down to money. Not all. Because loneliness is a very important aspect of it. But there are many things that one could change that one could have impact on if you had the money to pay for it you could go on trips and meet other people. You could find hobbies in and. Become interested in a variety of things if you had the money to pay for it. But if you're poor and old you have. There's very little left for you to be the bird little room to move very few options that are open to you. Lots of older women volunteer. That's because that's about all there is left to do. That's one
thing that is open. The fact that just as women in the past traditional women in the past were always offered this as an opportunity. Well you can always volunteer for something so it is true you know that older women or and older men as a matter of fact over 65 are offered this option. There are many kinds of programs have been set up like the Foster Grandparents and all those. Special programs for the Aging. Which is that because a person is past a certain age they want to work for nothing or for peanuts or 65 an hour in the case of a Foster Grandparent. Not recognizing that in the long run we should be looking for ways in which older persons can take care of themselves that will have the money to be able to provide services for themselves. The whole dependency you mention dependency for the poor. And. Particularly difficult in our society because assume that older persons are dependence. And yet.
There are a great deal of complaint for example of the cost of Social Security the cost of caring for older persons. If older persons had the option of working. It would not be on the. Public payroll for instance. But we are cut out of that. But we all assume about Social Security and Social Security was created so that we could be independent right. I mean was it not right. Well at least that we could be able to survive that was right OK. And we assume that that's going to take care of us to a certain extent. But is it not true that Social Security discriminates against women. The system well first place it's only a pittance for the majority of people under any circumstances I mean the amount of money involved is far too low. What on typical figures. Well about one hundred twenty five I would say was and is a median for women. Dollars a month. And if that's all you're living on and you recognize what the costs are of housing and of heat
and so on today imagine even the difficulty of survival on. It so. The first place is not enough. It's beautifully small. In addition to that. It's based upon the promise of earnings replacement. And if women have earned low salaries as they have in the past. Therefore the amount of money received is much lower. From a legal sense Social Security does not discriminate against women. But from the practical what is the impact upon our lives. It is a very discriminatory. In fact it's called institutionalized sexism and racism. I mean and ageism. Because of the fact that it. Really provides. Nothing but bare minimum. And there are many pitfalls. I for example. Happen To been older than my husband and I was divorced after 23 years when I was 57. And I thought that I wouldn't be eligible for Social Security when I got to be 65.
Because I would only be eligible when he. Begins to draw. That would make me in my 70s. And isn't just Social Security. But it's Medicare as well. So this is a very difficult and dangerous kind of situation to be and I'm extremely vulnerable but because of that what will you do. Well fortunately I have a few quarters to make up enough to get the minimum. But for many women. This is not possible. It's also true is that you may not collect if you've been married less than 20 years and your marriage ends. That's true. Used to be that if you divorce period you couldn't get anything and some retirements like the government pensions. If you were you were divorced you had get nothing from it. Now it's 20 years under Social Security. I mean we've received many letters of women who were married 19 years. And it means that. It was
years ago discounted completely. Even pro rating it would be better than to discount it completely. Absolutely but there's no chance of that happening is there. Well there are lots of changes that need to be made in the Social Security system and that's one. One possibility of either lowering lowering the 20 years to 10 or 5 or to prorated or in the new freezer bill. Separating or dividing the credits at the source so that both the. Husband and wife will be secrets and there will be portability so when case there is a. Divorce. That your wife will take her share of the credits with him. I read something you wrote in which she talked about paying twice and collecting once. What did you mean by that. This is the problem of the woman who who is working and outside the home. And doesn't earn a great deal of money. What would happen is that she has to
choose between her own Social Security credits and those that she would receive as a dependent. And if those that you receive as a pendant are more. Then she loses that which. She contributed herself to the system and that she course feels cheated in that. There are some changes that have been suggested certainly but in the mean time is there any recourse I mean other ways to protect yourself. Get a better job with me and get more credit since I think that probably the greatest problem right now in the Social Security system is the fact that homemakers are the largest body of workers in society at the present time that are not covered by what purports to be a universal retirement system. And that I think some way or other as other countries do there must be pensions for home for home makers. What do you think the whole insurance system is outdated. I really do. I really do. It came in in one thousand.
Thirty five at a time when the whole question of rugged individual ism was very strong. And it was assumed that the man was the breadwinner and the woman was the homemaker. And now I think it has to be looked at in terms of the realities to today's family life earnings possibilities and potential. That's going to take a while though that's a long range thing. A look at a new kind of retirement system. And for heaven's sake let's keep what we have until we can get a new one. Well I was just going to ask you that because there are people who say we should do it just get rid of it but we have nothing to replace it with. Those that are saying it usually want to provide less rather than more. Until we have something better. And certainly in terms of older women. We better hold on what we have and try to improve it. Well there is though is there a way to lobby for some of the suggestions that are now people some of the Gray Panthers and so on and other groups have have suggested. I think we have to speak a great deal on this question and I do think that there's one bill
that needs support that's the Fraser bill and it will have a new number than this session of Congress. That's the one I mention about. Credits for home makers. I think that. There needs to be a really good lookin person speaking out testifying and so on upon the their own personal conditions. And when we've been organizing displaced homemakers that women because the homemaking is an isolated occupation they're alone. But when these conditions are brought forward like for example this broadcast the amount of correspondence and we know that there are women all over the country ready to move and ready to get together and do something about them. We're going to be talking next week with Lori shields when she comes about the displaced homemakers Bill what about this attitude in our society that older people are expendable.
We'll take a completely opposite viewpoint as a matter of fact in some ways I feel this is the best period of my life. I feel more liberated not only as a woman but as a person. Now that I'm 62 and I look forward to the next years ahead. Expendable indeed. Let them come to the engineer realize that life is very precious. No matter what age you are you will. Can we talk for a few minutes about the health care needs. Of older women. And what's available and you know yeah what is and I guess mostly what we talk about is what isn't available. One thing the minute pause has to come out of the closet. We need to have research done in this area. Doctors can because they're male have very little an interest or understanding of it. When I was going through a horrendous management of paws myself I went to the two med school library to find out what was written and I thought that there was very little that's been more written now particularly by feminists.
There needs to be money for research in this area. For one thing. Secondly we have to look at alternatives such as estrogen replacement with both the dangers of it and the possible last positive aspects. We have to sort out the mental health aspect because part of the thing is we want to go through this change at the very period when women are usually. Hitting finding many other aspects of ages in their lives. In addition there need to be a whole in the medical care of older persons generally and older women among them. One of the problems is because of ages and. Older Persons the health of older persons are not taken seriously. And. What you can expect is that maintenance as a way to describe it as sort of a maintenance care. It's maintenance and it's also low expectations. Instead of working for the maximising of the health there's so much more emphasis on just
mere prolonging of life in the technical sense rather than good health. I think that actually. People are going to have to take a lot more responsibility for their own bodies in the future and women are going to have to take the lead in that care. That area because we have have begun to move in that area. And we begin to confront the medical profession. To find ways of staying healthy and well and making the most of our lives. This will be a big step forward in it. I think another. Fear that many people have is the nursing home for good reason for good reason. Nursing homes are really a shame and disgrace of our country. The solution of putting people completely aside and. Assuming it's warehousing in the worst sense. I mean really get the impression that you know they're there to be taken care of until they die.
Talk about aging is a women's issue. The nursing home is a microcosm of that. Does the primary care most of the care. It's the nursing home aide who receive the minimum wage or less. And who are most of the patients. Women because they've been left alone outlive their role as women's role in society. There is an example for women to join forces to improve the wages of nursing homes to be able to give the kind of care that they could. They are the ones that could change a nursing home. If there was money was provided for this purpose. Nursing homes in the long run need not be at all I think there are other forms of care. But as long as they are. They must be made livable. Whether they're tied to the federal government. Absolutely. And do you think something should be done about that. One exposure of what they are women must really recognize the
extent to which this is a woman's issue. Younger women. Nurses people who can at was see that there is common ground. What happens is that. Patients are set against the AIDS and for the benefit of the persons who own nursing homes. Explain that more to. 90 percent of the care. In a nursing home is provided by the least paid and the lowest status worker in our society even nursing home. Usually persons who have no other options. Minority women poor women. There are jobs which. Are. Cruelly exploited. And then when when there are. Ways there will be many kinds of outrages which happen. Neglect and all that sort of thing. The AIDS on the federal government. Which is providing the money for it not on the owners which are making a great profit. We can join forces
there we can make a change. Are there alternatives to nursing homes. Home care. But. Again that's putting the putting it on the back of the women. The assumption is in the medical care field is that some female relative should provide that care for. The closest female relative. The result is for example that older persons are assumed to be the responsibility of the middle aged women who have just just raised their families are now looking to do something else. There must be ways that this could be provided on a paid basis. Why could not a female relative say take care of a mother but be paid for that kind of work decently in order to provide it. That's one alternative group living of various kinds is another. There are many that would be possible if we cared. If we cared about the person and if women were to join forces across generations it's very interesting when we say when you stop to
think about society's attitude toward aging and getting older I mean it's not something that any of us can escape right. But we do escape it by refusing to look at it. True we don't recognize the fact even refused to look at the woman for example who says the young woman who says Don't call me a girl. When she's home. What does she do. She's looking to see if she has one more wrinkle or maybe a gray hair. She's saying. Don't call me a girl but let me remain one. And the reason for that is that that's where women's rewards are and in our society is very different from a black who wants to become a man. Or woman wants to be a girl because being a girl in our society means receiving rewards compliments jobs and then eat all the good things. Do you feel as a member of the older women task force for now that you have trouble communicating with younger women about the review. No not really.
If when they have an opportunity to listen. I don't think they thought about it but they're very open and very warm. Not only they think of it in terms of their mothers but. They're very responsive when you talk to them face to face. What are the priorities of the now taskforce of the displaced homemakers bill. That's our first priority now because we're focusing on that to show the way in which homemakers and the society have been discarded have been really. Allowed to be thrown aside once their job was done of raising a family. That's our prime for focus. But moving on from that. To many other steps such as unemployment insurance for home makers Social Security reforms as we were speaking of then recognition of age in a most positive way joining forces with the whole aging activism movement so that we can have much greater common strength. Because what's the point when you think about what's the point of fighting for equality
and then losing it again. At 65. Do you think there are people in society who don't identify some of the problems they're experiencing whether they be economic or otherwise with the fact that our attitudes toward aging are as less healthy as they are very much very much so. Most all of us in one way or other are hiding from age. For one thing. Ages them has not been explored as sexism has as racism has it has it is yet to be explored in the kind of that kind of depth in there because it's part of our social climate we just have. Assumed it as well. But we will. That's the coming revolution. What makes you most angry. What is this sort of example of ages that makes you most angry. That's hard to say if you simply talk about it.
The letters we receive. Of women who have given their lives to their their families have really sacrificed their their their own well-being at work. Worked in every way to make their families happy and satisfied and then find themselves really dumped. Whether it's by children or husband or whomever I guess that's the one that is closest because I'm working on that so much. But if I were in a nursing home I feel that was perhaps the most. Anger producing. Oh.
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Woman is a talk show featuring in-depth conversations exploring issues affecting the lives of women.
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