Challenging Age-Related Oppression

Why do we do age-specific work in RC? 

Both young people (ages zero to twenty) and young adults (ages twenty-one to thirty) face oppression because of their age, but their oppressions are different.

The oppression of young people is based on the false idea that they are not fully intelligent human beings. Adults often don’t listen to young people or take their ideas and thoughts seriously. They control almost all aspects of young people’s lives. And there is widespread mistreatment of young people in other ways as well. 

We who are young adults have more autonomy and control over our lives than we did as young people. We don’t get mistreated in the same ways. However, we face systemic pressure, particularly from the class system, to give up on the dreams and goals we had as young people and conform to a narrow and oppressive picture of what it means to be an “adult”: having a steady job, earning as much money as possible, settling down with a long-term partner, giving up on other relationships, and giving up on changing the world. 

The oppression of both young people and young adults helps to “cement in” all the other oppressions—including racism, sexism, and classism—as well as the degradation of the environment.

In RC we have recognised that undertaking age-specific liberation work for young people and young adults is the best way of challenging these oppressions and seeing that all of us—young people, young adults, and our older allies—get to fully re-emerge; have joyful, human lives; and work toward a world free of all oppressions. 

Recently in RC there has been a move toward organising people between the ages of thirty-one and forty. This is different from young people’s and young adults’ liberation work, because there is no age oppression of people in this group. However, there is an age “gap.” Most of the people in RC and leading in RC are over forty. (This is probably because it took a while for our Communities to understand young people’s and young adults’ oppression and to combat it in a way that makes RC attractive to younger people.) One of the central goals of the International RC Community is to have more younger people in it. Key to achieving this goal is having people in their thirties connected to each other and central to and leading in RC. This age group can also play an important role as allies to young adults and young people.

Co-Counsellors over forty can be important allies in combating young people’s and young adults’ oppression and in building an age-diverse Community. We also recognise that people over fifty face very damaging elders’ oppression.

Challenging age-related oppression works best when people of all ages are working toward having full, fun lives; going after* their dreams and goals; and seeking wide world change. In other words, this is a project we are all in together! 

 Barb Molanus and Brooke Greenwood

Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia

(Present Time 182, January 2016)

* “Going after” means pursuing.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00