Stopping the Clock: An Argument for the End of Age and Trash Discrimination

Stopping the Clock: An Argument for the End of Age and Trash Discrimination

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Trash and aging go hand in hand. Take for example a pair of shoes. When a person uses a pair of shoes consistently, the soles will begin to wear down and holes begin to form. A person may repair the sole and patch up the holes, but eventually there comes a time when the well-worn shoe is beyond repair and it is time to chuck them in the trash bin. Trash is made up of things that have aged to the point of uselessness; things that have become undesired and worthless. A person can easily tell when an item is no longer of use to them, but controversy ensues when a person attempts to determine when a human being begins to lose their usefulness. Aging is a fact of life, but how a society deals with this fact varies. In today’s American consumer society, there is a positive reception of things that are ‘new’ and ‘useful’ which in turn deems the opposite, things that are ‘old’ and ‘useless’, as bad. In analyzing Elizabeth Spelman’s third chapter, “On Taking Out The Trash”, from her forthcoming book on the subject of trash, the social injustices that arise from negative perceptions of trash are similar to the social injustices that result from the negative perceptions that surround aging. This paper will summarize the three stories of people’s relationships to trash from Spelman’s third chapter and demonstrate how these stories mirror those of aging people. By connecting these stories, people’s experiences with aging and trash are proven to be alike. Also, I make the argument that the instances of discrimination found in areas related to both trash and aging are rooted in people’s fear of becoming useless. Finally, I argue that devaluing people based on their associations with trash or age is unwarranted.
The chapter “On Taking Out The Tr...


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Alon-Shenker, Pnina. "The Unequal Right to Age Equality: Towards a Dignified Lives Approach
to Age Discrimination." The Unequal Right to Age Equality: Towards a Dignified Lives
Approach to Age Discrimination. The Canadian Journal of Law & Jurisprudence, July 2012. Web. May 2014.

Sheppard, Robyn. Proc. of Appearance Concern and Self Presentation in Older Women,
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Spelman, Elizabeth V. "On Taking Out The Trash.” (Unpublished ms). 1-38. Print.

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