I just finished reading Erica Jong's new book, "Fear of Dying." So what is the third wave of feminism? (She might have told us, but I skipped many parts of the book, which is so much a re-play of many of her other books.) What emerges in my own mind, howwever, after reading Erica Jong, who is 73, is my conviction that the third wave must include messages about the way "senior citizens" are treated in our society: treated by the medical profession, housing management, and just plain people on the street.
I recently had to interrupt one doctor and say, "I am not senile; please do not talk to me as if I am." Dealing with doctors gets to be like an old Seinfeld episode, in which Elaine tries to steal her records that she is sure contain an unflattering comment about her. Well, I have been struggling with cancers for the last nine years; too many doctors tell me all my trouble is due to worry, which I am sure is the summation of my existence scribbled across every medical document that bears my name. Due to worry!!! Who would not be worried if you are forced to spend your "life" on the precipice that separates life from death? Certainly not the doctors . The message is clear:"You are old and sick, and I have better things to do with my time than deal with you." Gloria Steinem, you are 80, G-d bless you. Surely you have been insulted at least once by a rude doctor. Why can't we do something about this blatant inequality in the delivery of medical services, starting with mandated (or at least suggested) basic respect for the "elderly" patient?
Now on to housing. My home and all of my worldy possions were taken by Hurricane Sandy back in 2012. So I was forced to move to a (fairly upscale, as it turns out) apartment near my son and his family. I unfortunately made the mistake of calling an ambulance too many times. Once for toxic hepatitis; another for the passage of a kidney stone: other times for trivial ailments that were laughed at and mocked in emergency rooms. Another unfortunate incident occured when a friend called the police because she could not get me on the phone. (Yes, the police came knocking at my door in the wee hourse of the A.M. .) Okay, so I disturbed the peace. Punishment: extremey rude treatment by certain people employed in the building in which I lived, and yes - management's decision not to renew my lease. Third wave of feminism? Everybody advised me to keep my mouth shut and move. So I did.
For awhile I needed to walk with a cane, which tipped everyone off that I was not to be taken too seriously. Nurses seemed annoyed, as they looked back at me hobbling to exam rooms. I was told that some assisted living facilities "do not like apppliances," which included the walker I sometimes had to use. Come on now: Senior residences frown upon walkers. Then it is no surprise that I would be unkindly stared at by strangers in the street on snowy days when I needed to use that particular "appliance."
Okay fellow baby boomers. Have you had enough maltreatment? We all remember the days of the second wave. Now it is clearly time once again to include ourselves actively in the latest feminist movement. It is time the message goes out to judge us by our wisdom and not our "senility" and disabilities.