Over 45?


The above findings are similar to the results of another study conducted a few years earlier.

Since I moved to England, from Amsterdam, I have become increasingly appalled by how particularly women over roughly the age of 45 are seen in England.

Older men are demonised too in England, but if you combine England’s excessive misogyny with being demonised because of your age, you end up with something quite horrific for older women.

That appears to be even worse for older women who are single.

In England, getting married has long been the highest achievable goal for women. I see part of the explanation for that in the Victorian age, but a bigger part in what happened during the Second World War. Women took over the country and took on many traditionally male roles, also within the war context. Before she became Queen, Queen Elizabeth II drove trucks and trained and served as a car mechanic.

The effects of this led me to believe that England was more emancipated than the Netherlands where fewer women seemed to be working in traditionally male roles.

What I had not realized was that when the men came home to England after the war, not only did they start mocking and infantilizing women because their pride had been injured when they saw that women had run the country well, there also now were many more women than men. So many men had perished in the wars. Marriage became a scarce commodity. Many English men’s egos must have become hugely inflated as a result and their attitude towards women contemptuous. For women, it became highly desirable to remain young-looking and fertile as long as possible in England. That’s my theory. The criterion “is she fuckable”, which I have seen mentioned within the context of women’s employability in England, reported by women as said by men, appears to confirm that, though. Besides, just look at the Met.

I was 44 when I moved from Amsterdam to England.

I was seen as feeble-minded and fragile or if I was air, and didn’t even exist.

I was shocked when in England, people suddenly started seeing me again instead of treating me like air. They started chatting with me again after I had my hair colored at a salon in Portsmouth when I was still living in Southampton. At the salon, they didn’t understand that I meant when I said that I wanted “Hillary Clinton” style hair. Instead, I ended up with a cutesy little girls’ look, but it had a profound effect on how people were treating me, even on days on which I happened to be in a grouchy uncommunicative mood.

When you’re over 45, you slowly stop existing in England. You get pushed out of society and aren’t welcome anywhere any longer. People treat you as if you’re a 5-year-old who doesn’t understand a lot of things. Sometimes they treat you as if you’re a naughty, misbehaving 5-year-old.

I moved here from Amsterdam when I was in my mid-40s. I am a bit older now but it still feels like I lose about 50 years every time I visit my home country.

This is in spite of the fact that my home country too is quite ageist. A female Dutch researcher who’s now a full professor who knew me and a male Danish professor who did not know me personally but had read a piece that I’d written were very willing to accept me when I was only still in my mid-30s, three years or so after I had graduated with distinction. (Yep, I probably should have moved to Denmark, back then. The Dutch woman’s research was too far removed from my interests and expertise, I felt, but I appreciated her offer greatly.)

However, a male Dutch scientist who did not know me personally wrote to me that it was time for me to step aside and make way for the younger generation in response to my job application for a vacancy at a Dutch marine science organization. That is so different in the US, where people are fully expected to live active lives up to a very high age (and women’s emancipation is more advanced, or at least was until recently).

When I spoke about the problem of ageism with my friend Judy in Florida, she mentioned that people in their 70s were having to fight to stay in some roles in the US too. I had been talking about people in their 40s and 50s and 60s, by contrast, but she had not realized that.

From the beginning, I noticed all those ghost-like quietly subdued slightly older women here and it took me a while to discover the reason for that. At 55 or so, depending on your specific circumstances, you may no longer be as adept at fighting off attackers or sprinting away at great speed as you were in your 20s or 30s and you can become scared.

You may no longer have the guts to stand up to bullies.

Because muscle mass declines as you get older. To counter that, you have to work at it pretty diligently by exercising a lot and eating nutritious food. The latter can be pretty hard to accomplish in a country with as much widespread deep poverty as England.

You become intimidated into a mousy state of being to prevent that you offend anyone who feels that you don’t know your place and wants to teach you a lesson.

Often along with all of that comes more isolation and more loneliness.

On 9 March 2023, I heard a scientist say within the context of brain plasticity that the over-65s were like couch potatoes and that 50% of them no longer did anything challenging or immersing.

Yeah, I know! They can still do things like learn Chinese on YouTube but they’d never get to practice it.

Cognitive declines in the elderly are often the result of what society does to them, of how it otherizes them, is what this scientist appeared to be suggesting.

People, that’s horrible. That is a horrible way to have to live.

A lot of older women in the UK beat their loneliness and isolation through online gaming. It gives them a way to pass the time, but it can also give them someone to talk with.

But online gaming is not for everyone.

The NHS, too, generally speaking is horrible ageist and frequently sexist.

Older adults get called “dear” and can be told out of the blue not to be so forgetful that they leave the login details for their GP practice on the table at Costa Coffee.

Some believe that one must be very patient and forgiving with us. After all we are over 45. That’s like being a child of 5, right?


I am over 45. Not 5.

In June 2021, something happened that illustrates very well what I am talking about and it made the national news.

A thug accosted national public health expert Professor Chris Whitty.

Yes, I am sure that the professor is over 45. I checked and indeed, he was born in 1966. But there is more to it. He is a scientist. He is Chief Medical Officer for England. (No, not for the entire UK.) Scientists too are often abused in England. They too are often seen as not right in the head in some way. (I blame that on TV series like Morse and Lewis.)

But it’s people like Boris Johnson who help cause such incidents.

No, I am not making this up. I am not exaggerating. “Even the mildest otherisation primes people for aggression”, Oxford neuroscientist Kathleen Taylor wrote in her book “Cruelty. Human evil and the human brain”.

Until Johnson became seriously ill with Covid and finally realised that those scientists weren’t being ridiculously silly sissies crying wolf about absolutely nothing, he ridiculed – otherised – scientists and scholars just about any time he got the chance. He called them girly swats.

That is part of what is behind this sort of thing. That leading politicians keep indicating that abuse of people perceived as a little different is okay.

BBC: “The video shows two men laughing and jeering as they grab hold of Prof Whitty, who struggles to free himself.”

What did the main thug say? He tried to blame his own behavior on his victim.

He called his victim “shy and timid” and said that if his victim had said “Get off me!” he would have left him in peace. No, he would not. He had already accosted him at that point, after all.

One does not argue with such creatures once they’ve already touched you. One avoids them as much as possible and one goes on with one’s own business as well as one can in spite of what is happening around one. That does not make one shy and timid, it makes one wise and focused on self-preservation.

I have no idea what this professor is like as a person and I haven’t watched his public appearances throughout the Covid crisis, but I do know that he’s been in the limelight a lot. That means that he is certainly anything but “shy and timid”.

But he is over 45.

And he is a scientist.

That gives people the right to abuse someone, in England, as long as it does not go viral in the media.

I am very grateful that the employer of the main thug who accosted Professor Whitty fired him. An estate agency, no less! It is reassuring. It tells me that not everyone in England is an utterly totally crazy backward barbarian. Because frankly, it sometimes does feel that way.

The thug was later also charged with assault. Holy cow! But… would that also have happened if “Chris Whitty” had been a woman? I doubt it. In fact, I think that the women protesting against that would have been arrested instead.)

But I have some good news too.

People who seem to side with the abusers, they don’t always actually feel the way it looks. Some of them are simply scared that if they express sympathy or otherwise show support for the victim, they will become victimized next.

They are actually scared.

They don’t need to be. Because there are so many of us and our numbers are growing. And there is strength in numbers, too.

What’s more, many of us are not frail and crumbly at all and run a pretty good mile. Some of us still pack a good punch, too. Together, we may be able to make a fist for those who can’t.

Photo taken of Janice Morris, in her late 40s, being attacked while sitting on a bench, her attackers making various forms of victory signs (such as the horns but also the sign on on the right). One of the attackers took this photo and shared it on Facebook. That’s where it got noticed and that‘s why these attackers later found themselves accused and sentenced in a court of law. I heard about the incident from someone in the States.

I, too, was attacked while sitting on a bench once, when I was 47. It happened in Southampton. I was working on the Dutch version of Forensics for Dummies at the time and the weather was lovely. Wanting some sunshine and fresh air, I decided to take a report on the Dutch practice of forensics with me and went outside. Normally, I would cross the big toll bridge over the River Itchen and sit outside at the Costa at the Westquay mall. Starbucks had not arrived in the UK yet back then. That day, I did not go downtown. There was and today still is nothing even remotely resembling a Costa or Starbucks in Woolston, the neighborhood where I was living at the time.

So I perched on a low wall on the left bank of the River Itchen. Three lads started to hassle me. I told them off, but I didn’t feel comfortable around them and I decided to relocate so that I could concentrate. I found a bench along a road. The location was not as good as the other one, but being able to work in peace made up for that.

However, the lads apparently had gone in search of me when I relocated – or maybe they even followed me – because shortly after, they showed up with two more buddies and attacked me. I had not seen them arrive as I was concentrating on my report and the attack came completely out of nowhere.

Five thugs, younger than the ones who attacked Ms Morris as far as I can tell, threw water and sand over me and pelted stones at me. Two stones hit my head. I felt fortunate that I had not been working on my laptop as it likely would have been ruined.

As I walked away from the scene, I encountered a woman who seemed to be about my age walking in the opposite direction. I warned her that I had just been attacked. She scoffed at me. WTF? She didn’t know me. I didn’t know her. Why scoff at me?

The attack utterly baffled and scared me. It made me angry, too. I was fuming. Furious! What on earth could have motivated a bunch of youngsters to attack me while I sat working on a bench? What concerned me perhaps even more was the degree of approval there appeared to be among the adults in the community around me.

The youngsters felt so secure that they parked their butts on the low wall surrounding the property in which I was living one or two days later. They had never done that before. They seemed to be making a point. They were part of the in-group and would be absolved of any wrongdoing no matter what they did. And I was not part of that in-group.

In Portsmouth, I also became targeted.

I was in my fifties when stones were being thrown at me on the beach in Southsea in Portsmouth, near the South Parade Pier one evening. While it had the semblance of coincidence, it also had the threat of something much darker as the rest of the entire beach was clear. Why throw stones in my direction? I walked away calmly. Just in case.

I was in my fifties when a bucket presumably containing water was emptied over me very deliberately along Kingston/London Road near Kingston Crescent one Sunday afternoon. Two young men first greeted me, from a window on the first floor up. When I returned the greeting, they emptied the bucket over me. I pretended that nothing had happened. I went home, took a shower and washed my hair afterward, taking the possibility into account that the liquid thrown over me had not been water.

You can’t report this kind of abuse anywhere. You are supposed to take it in stride and keep your mouth shut, just like women whose butts and boobs get felt and squeezed hard and who sometimes even get raped are supposed to take it in stride and keep their mouths shut.

Hell no.

When we get angry and stand up for ourselves or act out in frustration, are we now engaging in “anti-social” problem behavior and do we become otherised even more as a result?

#Metoo also applies to the abuse of older adults.