Is age a social construct?

Race is now a social construct, gender is a social construct, and even species is a social construct (remember the “otherkins“, who identify as members of a nonhuman species?). Well, this is the logical result, as reported by the Guardian:

And why not? Mr. Rateband feels he’s being discriminated against because of his age and, more important, he feels as if he’s 49. And so he went to court:

A 69-year-old Dutch “positivity guru” who says he does not feel his age has started a battle to make himself legally 20 years younger on the grounds that he is being discriminated against on a dating app.

Emile Ratelband told a court in Arnhem in the Netherlands that he did not feel “comfortable” with his date of birth, and compared his wish to alter it to people who identified as transgender.

Ratelband said that due to having an official age that did not reflect his emotional state he was struggling to find both work and love. He has asked for his date of birth to be changed from 11 March 1949 to 11 March 1969.

“When I’m 69, I am limited. If I’m 49, then I can buy a new house, drive a different car,” he said. “I can take up more work. When I’m on Tinder and it says I’m 69, I don’t get an answer. When I’m 49, with the face I have, I will be in a luxurious position.”

Doctors had told him his body was that of a 45-year-old man, Ratelband argued. He described himself as a “young god”.

LOL!

Indeed, the judge made an analogy between those who change gender because their their biological sex doesn’t match their self-image, but then the judge punted for no good reason that I can see:

The judge conceded that the ability to change gender was a development in the law. “I agree with you: a lot of years ago we thought that was impossible,” he said. But he asked the applicant how his parents would feel about 20 years of Ratelband’s life being wiped off the records.

“For whom did your parents care? Who was that little boy then?” the judge asked.

Ratelband, a motivational speaker and trainer in neurolinguistic programming, said his parents were dead.

He also said he was willing to renounce his right to a pension to ensure there were no unforeseen consequences of his age change.

But then Ratelband punted, too!

At the end of a 45-minute court session, Ratelband said: “It is really a question of free will.”

Here he is; he doesn’t really look 49, but some age-reassignment surgery could help:

I’m not sure what he means by it being a matter of free will, but if it’s libertarian free will, he’s wrong. Still, that’s of no consequence. Why shouldn’t someone be able to declare their ethnicity or gender or even species based on how they feel (Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who declared herself black, was the only person I know who couldn’t get away with it, but not for any good reason)—but not their age?

I’m only half kidding. Of course I don’t think Ratelband should get away with it (even though I’m nearly his age but don’t feel 68), but I’m not sure why. This is an era in which people are supposed to be able to declare that they are what they feel, and Ratelband’s demand is the logical consequence.

I’ll leave this to the philosophers, but remember that when Rachel Dolezal declared herself black (and I really do feel she identified as a black woman), it was the philosophers who said she couldn’t do that (see here, herehere, and also here).

Trans-ageism: the new frontier! As of December 30, I’ll be 49!

h/r: Grania

145 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    It is so nice to be 28 again!

  2. Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Tee hee! Yes, if its all a question of self-identification then why not, indeed?
    We’ve been here before…
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/hive-mind/201705/blasphemy

    • Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      If I identified as Ryan Gosling would that entitle me to half his earnings?

      • Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        And half his girlfriends? (After all, asserting ones identity imposes no costs on other sharers of social space, now, does it?)

  3. W.T. Effingham
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    It would be interesting to hear what Stephen Hawking might suggest to this person.

    • Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      Yes. Perhaps being dead is just another social construct and we’ll find out.

      • Doris Walker
        Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        Gravity is a social contstruct!

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted November 9, 2018 at 3:15 am | Permalink

          “… he said as he went past the 5th floor window.”

          (Punchline to a joke about an ultra relativist who jumps off a hundred-floor building.)

  4. Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Seems unfair to just make those 20 years disappear. If Rateband pays me suitable dosh I agree to take those 20 years and identify as 20 years older. Not only could I retire right now but I’d be in the record books for all sorts of stuff, including I hope, longevity.

    **Kudos to everyone who knows the Twilight Zone episode these thoughts inspired.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 8, 2018 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      I guess Twilight Zone got it from Oscar Wilde. Dorian Gray.

      cr

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted November 9, 2018 at 3:22 am | Permalink

        Probably with a tip of the (elegant, precisely poised) hat to the legend of Tithonus.
        Oh, I see that Tennyson did a poem on Tithonus (as “Tithon”) in 1859, which would put it in the eyes of young Oscar as “recent work”.

  5. Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I dont think he should win the case. Age is just how long you’ve existed. Unless you have a time machine you cant actually change that. You may look or feel younger or older than you are but you are still whatever age you are. Its not the same as being transgender. Gender is a social construct, its your sex that is not. However you can change your sex because its a physical part of you that can be surgically altered. Age is representative of the years you’ve lived. Nothing can alter that. No matter how I feel I have existed for 23 years and only time changes that. Same for the 69 year old guy. Its unfortunate if he feels hes been discriminated against due to his age though.

    • Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Someone could argue that telomeric age is a more reliable guide to (say) age-related disorders than is clock age…WHich would be true.

      • Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        Thats interesting. Can you elaborate on that?

        • Adam M.
          Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

          Each time a cell divides, the chromosomes get a little shorter. To prevent the loss of important DNA, the chromosomes are capped on each end with a region of repetitive DNA call telomeres. It doesn’t do anything in and of itself, but it serves as a buffer. When it runs out, further cell division starts eating away at the important parts of the DNA. Shortened telomeres are linked to various aspects of aging and age-related diseases.

          Some people are born with longer telomeres than others. DNA-damaging processes like oxidation shorten them. Some studies showed stress shortens them, but those studies may have been wrong.

          Anyway, the dude could argue that his age should be judged based on telomere length rather than actual time, is what Helena was saying (perhaps in jest).

          • Posted November 9, 2018 at 6:41 am | Permalink

            I was half joking…I spend a lot of my time studying the effects of this sort of thing (under the rubric of Life History Theory). For instance, relative social deprivation covaries with accelerated telomeric deterioration. In some parts of deprived Glasgow the age expectancy is now 48 and if you look at the relevant bits of DNA they are ageing faster.
            My issue wth the “social constructionists” is that they dont know the half of it! They think it means “we can make up stuff as we go along” rather than “we are radically in one anothers heads and bodies almost continuously, causing huge measurable objective effects”

      • Serendipitydawg
        Posted November 8, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        In this case though he actually wants his date of birth changed to knock 20 years off, surely that necessitates redefining birth so it could occur when he was 20 years old.

        He is looking good for 69… I look older than him as a mere stripling of 21 (I currently use base 31, next year it will be base 32).

        • Serendipitydawg
          Posted November 8, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

          … and next year I will be 20, even better 🙂

    • Cindy
      Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      You can’t actually change your sex, just your appearance.

      And what exactly does it mean to ‘feel’ that you are the opposite gender, or no gender at all, as some non-binary folks claim to be.

      There are now hundreds of gender identities, a sample:

      Adamasgender- A gender which refuses to be categorized.

      Adeptogender– When your gender identity was obtained through your realization of your kinself. as in your kin realization spurred your gender realization. (note: the gender and kin type do not necessarily have to correlate with each other)

      Aesthetgender– A gender derived from an aesthetic, also known as videgender.

      Aethergender– A gender that feels very wide, commanding, breathtaking and powerful.

      Affectugender– A gender affected by mood swings.

      Agender– Having no gender or a lack of gender identity

      Ambigender– A feeling of two genders simultaneously, but without fluidity/shifting. May be used synonymously in some cases with bigender.

      Amaregender- A gender that changes depending on who you’re in love with.

      Ambonec– Identifying as both man and woman, yet neither at the same time.

      Amicagender– A gender that changes depending on which friend you’re with at the moment.

      https://duckduckgo.com/?q=list+of+genders&t=brave&ia=web

      So if someone can identify as a person who is all genders simultaneously, or no gender at all, then why can’t someone identify as any age or species they wish?

      If feelings determine reality, then you can be anything you want to be.

      • Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        But you can change your sex. You can turn a penis into a vagina or vice versa, and you can go on hormones that correspond to that sex. Gender is based on What is in your head. Sex is based on biology. Age is based on how long youve been alive. You can feel younger and certainly act younger but you can’t alter how long you’ve existed.

        • Cindy
          Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

          You can only ever mimic the opposite sex, you can’t actually turn a penis into a REAL vagina, or vice versa.

          If gender is based on ‘what is in your head’ then why not age or species?

          Again, I ask, please explain what it means to FEEL that one is the opposite gender, or no gender, or all genders simultaneously. If feelings determine that a person has no gender in OBJECTIVE REALITY then there is no reason why feelings can’t determine the same for age or even species.

          • Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

            Maybe one day age will be considered based on mentality, but currently the definition of age is “the length of time that a person has lived or a thing has existed.” That is something is impossible to change.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted November 9, 2018 at 3:26 am | Permalink

              Maybe one day age will be considered based on mentality

              That would require medicine/ surgery/ gerontology to have got to the point that apparent age is highly adjustable, and this is done routinely for cosmetic reasons. And as a corollary, that likelihood of death is flat and low with age – by which point our current population problems will look like nothing.

          • Posted November 9, 2018 at 6:53 am | Permalink

            If you are serious (rather than being rhetorical) about wondering what it feels like to be of an opposite sex to the one that others feel you to be, or present as, then there are many resources out there. A good starting point would be David Reimer, a boy raised as a girl (“Brenda”) due to his losing his penis as a baby in a botched circumcision accident. There is a book “As Nature Made Him” which contains a long account of what it feels like. Some excerpts:

            However, the family noticed as Brenda grew up that she was masculine in every way, she refused to play with any stereotypical girl toys and even stood up to pee instead of sitting down like a girl. I think her twin brother explained it best when he said, “When I say there was nothing feminine about Brenda, I mean there was nothing feminine. She walked like a guy. Sat with her legs apart. She talked about guy things, didn’t give a crap about cleaning the house, getting married, wearing makeup. We both wanted to play with guys, build forts and have snowball fights and play army.” The story goes in depth about how the Reimer family raised Brenda as a girl, how they dealt with her differences, and how Brenda struggled growing up feeling like a boy in a girl’s body. Everyday Brenda felt deeply confused, alone, and depressed because of her not feeling like the biological sex she was given. Until the age of fourteen, the parents refused to tell Brenda what really happened to her as a baby, because Dr. Money told them it would ruin the process and therefore they had to keep this a secret. Later in life when Brenda found out about this accident, she made the mature decision at the age of fifteen to have another sex change to become a male.
            “I didn’t like dressing like a girl. I didn’t like behaving like a girl. I didn’t like acting like a girl.”
            “You don’t wake up one morning deciding if you’re a boy or a girl. You just know.”
            Worth a look. Also worth a look are many transgender blogs that talk about “passing” (being treated as the sex you identify with). Melissa “Passing Glances” is especially good and goes into forensic detail that I’d like my ethology students to be able to achieve

        • Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

          I would argue while technically you can change your sex, surgically altering a penis into a vagina won’t allow you to produce eggs, nor would the reverse allow you to produce sperm. Sex can be defined as the type of gametes you produce (eg. male seahorses are the ones that give birth, but they are designated as male because they produce sperm), so in that context a sex-change operation can at best make you asexual. The sex change is only superficial, as you don’t end up with the functional sex organs of the other sex (unless they can do transplants now).

          • Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:34 am | Permalink

            I dont think being a man or woman should be defined by whether you can procreate. Thats offensive to the many people out there with disorders that dont allow them to procreate.

            • GBJames
              Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

              Michael said nothing about procreation. He said the determinant factor was whether you produce sperm or eggs. There are precious few people who produce neither or both. And surgery doesn’t let you cross from one to the other side.

              • Posted November 8, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

                Producing sperm or eggs goes hand in hand with procreation. He might have well have said procreation.

            • Posted November 8, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

              Offensiveness is irrelevant. Sex by definition refers to procreation, whether you choose to or not, nor whether you haven’t reached or passed the reproductive phase of your life. My point was one of definition, which can vary depending on context. Human males are born with a penis and testes, females with ovaries, etc. and that is usually how it is defined whether they are functional or not. My point was simply that under some definitions (which may or may not be applied to humans), eg. production of gametes, that a sex change doesn’t actually change your sex.

              Again depending on definition, you can argue that there are at least 5 different sexes in humans: Male XY, Female XX, Male appearance but genetically XX, Female appearance but genetically XY, and Hermaphrodites. The latter three are very rare (see Jerry’s posts about bimodalism). There is also Indeterminate, but can you really call that a sex? There are also Klinefelters and Turners Syndromes, etc.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted November 9, 2018 at 3:32 am | Permalink

                Again depending on definition, you can argue that there are at least 5 different sexes in humans: Male XY, Female XX, Male appearance but genetically XX, Female appearance but genetically XY, and Hermaphrodites. The latter three are very rare (see Jerry’s posts about bimodalism).

                On the order of one per thousand live births – or as I put it a while ago, something that every midwife will see sometime in the timespan of going from journeyman to master.
                Incidentally, that definition is only reasonable in placental mammals – once you try going out to the wider parts of the vertebrates or even further, it becomes irrelevant.

          • Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:38 am | Permalink

            And there are women who’ve had to have their reproductive organs removed due to cancer. So basically what youre saying is if you no dont have eggs you arent a real woman?

            • Eric Grobler
              Posted November 8, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

              We are a sexual dimorphic species!

              There are brain, hormonal, chromosome, pelvis shape, body size differences etc. etc. etc.

            • Posted November 8, 2018 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

              And you are saying that a vagina is just a dick turned inside out. How is that not offensive?

              • Posted November 8, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

                When exactly did I say that?

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted November 9, 2018 at 3:33 am | Permalink

                Actually, if you look at how they’re formed, you’re not far wrong in that description.

        • Eric Grobler
          Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

          “Gender is based on What is in your head”
          It is called gender dysphoria.

          If a child suffers from gender dysphoria they firstly need psychological and psychiatric support and only as a LAST resort gender reassignment surgery.

          Even after transition they are likely to still feel alienated from their own body, pre-existing mental issues will persist and might suffer from various medical issues.

          I think it is highly irresponsible to give children that suffer from these disorders the postmodern message that gender is “just a social construct”.

        • Adam M.
          Posted November 8, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

          Sex is extremely common among animal species, and many of those species have no penis or vagina. The organs used to deliver or receive the gametes are irrelevant to the definition of sex. Sex is defined by gametes and gamete-producing organs.

          • Eric Grobler
            Posted November 8, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

            Good point

    • Eric Grobler
      Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      “Gender is a social construct”

      I do not agree with this statement.
      The way we express our gender/sex is influenced by culture, but culture is constrained by our sex/hormonal/brain differences etc.

      The differences in gender roles throughout human history in all cultures were shaped by evolutionary forces and biological reality.

      Surely a tribe where the women go hunt and the men look after the children would be at a disadvantage.

      • Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        Not necessarily though. People have always defied what their culture says. And also I don’t see why women couldn’t hunt just as well as men if properly taught.

        • Eric Grobler
          Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

          “I don’t see why women couldn’t hunt just as well as men if properly taught.”

          Surely you are trolling me? 🙂

          • Posted November 8, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

            No I’m not trolling you and I dont appreciate the condescension. Actually there have been tribes where females were also hunters.

            • Eric Grobler
              Posted November 8, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

              Apologies if I came across condensing.

              “Actually there have been tribes where females were also hunters.”
              Yes that is true, and there are females that are good at many strength and endurance related activities.
              But it is about averages.

              “Surely a tribe where the women go hunt and the men look after the children would be at a disadvantage.”
              Please consider my statement again, because men on average are more suited for hunting and woman more for taking care of children, no tribe in history reversed these roles.

              These general “truisms” about gender differences does of course not apply to every individual of course. My point is that gender roles in culture are not completely arbitrary.

              “And also I don’t see why women couldn’t hunt just as well as men if properly taught.”
              Perhaps you mean that an individual woman can be as good or better than some men as hunters. Surely as a general statement this does not make sense because of the endurance and strength differences.
              Men are better at endurance/strength sports which correlates with attributes that make good prehistoric hunters.

              I have not seen data, but I suspect women are better at foraging.

              • Posted November 8, 2018 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

                Sorry but I don’t see the relevance of prehistoric gender roles. Times are different and they are obsolete. Yes I understand your point and that they were useful back then but that doesnt disprove my original point.

    • Posted November 8, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Surgery to make you look younger is also a thing. I don’t see it as qualitatively different to the surgery that gives you the appearance of being the other sex.

      Cosmetic surgery can make you look younger even though you are not. Similarly, cosmetic surgery could give me the appearance of being a biological female but can’t alter the fact of my XY chromosomes or my lack of ovaries and a womb.

      • Posted November 8, 2018 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        Its different because age,by definition, is how long you have existed. Its impossible to alter the amount of time youve been alive .

        • Doug
          Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

          “It’s impossible to alter the amount of time you’ve been alive.” Maybe not . . .

          George Washington was born, his birth date was recorded as February 11, 1731. When Britain and its colonies switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, they had to skip 11 days to make it work; they also moved the New Year to January 1, from March 25 where it had been before. George is now listed as having been born on February 22, 1732. He is now a year and 11 days younger! If George can do it, why can’t the rest of us?

          Plus, the definition of a “year” is culturally constructed: a lunar year averages 354 days; a solar year is 365 days, a leap year is 366 days. Which year we use is a cultural matter. And, of course, different planets have years of different lengths. Suppose I want to identify as a Martian? Just because I was “assigned” an identity as an Earthling at birth, am I required to live with someone else’s designation?

          I’m sure if we try, we can come up with other ways to change our age. Any suggestions?

          • Posted November 9, 2018 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

            Changing the clock or calender doesnt actually change how much time has passed

          • Posted November 9, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

            Plus, the definition of a “year” is culturally constructed: a lunar year averages 354 days; a solar year is 365 days, a leap year is 366 days. Which year we use is a cultural matter. And, of course, different planets have years of different lengths” well here on earth a year is objective ( except for the whole leap year thing) because its based on earth orbiting around the sun. And haha very funny identifying as a martian.

        • Posted November 9, 2018 at 9:47 am | Permalink

          There is a biological definition of sex too and it is not based on the presence or absence of a penis.

          You are suggesting it is possible to actually change sex but I think that just as with age all we can do is to create the physical appearance of changing sex. The penis fashioned by a a plastic surgeon may look convincing and may well offer comfort to a female-born person who self-identifies as a male but ultimately it is just a somewhat better disguise than a false beard. I don’t have a problem with someone self-identifying as a gender different to that assigned at birth or with society accommodating that person’s self-declared gender (with perhaps some limits such as with male prisoners who self identify as women not being incarcerated with other women) but I can’t really see a reason why the same accommodation should be denied to someone self identifying as a different age to his/her ‘biological’ age.

          • Posted November 9, 2018 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

            Because then a 12 year old could identify as a 21 year and drink legally even though their brain isnt fully developed.a 25 year old could identify as a 16 year old and get away with statutory rape. A 40 year old could identify as a 70 year old and try to get retirement benefits.

            • Posted November 9, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

              Nobody is claiming there wouldn’t be problems if people were allowed to identify as whatever age they like.

              The point is that your argument that it is different to gender reassignment because you can change your sex with surgery is bogus. Sex change surgery is cosmetic, just like surgery to change the appearance of your age. It’s just a little more extreme.

              • Posted November 9, 2018 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

                Ok I concede to the argument that you if you have gender reassignment surgery you aren’t technically switching your sex to the opposite one. However it still begs the question of whether it is changing your sex if you lose sexual function. If sex is based on either producing eggs or sperm then what about instances where people have to have their reproductive system removed. You wouldn’t say that they are now a different sex, so then the colloquial definition of sex would really be if you have a penis or vagina.

              • Posted November 9, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

                YOLO19, sometimes you have to decipher if someone is pulling your chain a bit, with their tongue in their cheek! I wrote elsewhere that there different stages and definitions of sex. Chromosomal sex is determined at fertilization, general sex generally follows the absence or presence of a Y chromosome, and phenotypic sex generally tracks with gonadal sex. Sometimes there is uncoupling of the stages, but chromosomal sex cannot be changed. Phenotypic sex change can be done surgically and hormonally.

  6. Mark Jones
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Love it. I’m going to start identifying as Brad Pitt.

    I wonder about his pension. If successful in his court case, would his pension provider halt his pension because he’s not of age?

    • Mark Jones
      Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Ah, I see he’s willing to renounce his pension. Good to see he’s willing to take the logic all the way.

      • Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

        What about all those years of under-age drinking? And driving without a licenece (which he coulnd thave had legally)? I hope he is going to be prosecuted for that. Otherwise its like making a mockery of human institutions

        • Terry Sheldon
          Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:22 am | Permalink

          This was going to be my point. When I was 14 I definitely identified as being 21 for purposes of purchasing and consuming beer!

    • Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Hey Brad. We should work on a project together
      Ryan Gosling ( not Rod Wilson)

  7. Alexander
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    In Europe, when you apply for a job, you are expected to put your date of birth on your CV. In the US and in the UK I was never asked about my age, and I got hired. But tell a German that your CV does not carry your date of birth, your marital status, number of children, and your photo! (I believe it is illegal in the US to ask for these details during a job interview), and he will faint in front of you! While living in the US I applied for a job at CERN as science writer. I had added my date of birth on my CV, and I got a call from CERN, apologizing that they could not hire me, and that he would have interviewed me if I was younger than 40 (I was 41).

    • Laurance
      Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      There are ways for employers to get around the prohibition of asking age.

      On the application I was told to list ALL my past jobs, starting with the first job and the dates I started and finished there.

      I started working in January of 1966. That was enough to tell the employers that I was getting pretty old.

      I did not get the job even though I would have likely been a better worker than many young people.

    • Posted November 8, 2018 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      I’m pretty sure that such blatant age discrimination is illegal in much of the EU.

      https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/age-discrimination_en

      I guess the question is whether CERN works under EU law.

      • JezGrove
        Posted November 8, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        Yes, in the Netherlands where Ratelband lives it is illegal to discriminate between job applicants based on their age. That just leaves his complaints about Tinder. Not sure about the legislation on catfishing there…

        • alexander
          Posted November 8, 2018 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

          I think that now in many European countries they would just say that you are not shortlisted for the job because of your resume/CV or experience if they see your age on your resume, or even worse, if you don’t mention your age on your CV.

          • Posted November 9, 2018 at 5:56 am | Permalink

            Telling somebody they are one year too old for a job that is really not age dependent would count as blatant ageism though.

      • alexander
        Posted November 8, 2018 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

        “I’m pretty sure that such blatant age discrimination is illegal in much of the EU.”

        The website you refer to does not talk about hiring practices, just about discrimination in a job you already have and you turn 60, for example. They can’t fire (or retire) you because of age, I believe, if you are under 65, but they can discriminate, I believe, when you are applying for a job. But I can accept that you would not be hired as an airline pilot, if you are over 60, for example.

        • Posted November 9, 2018 at 5:59 am | Permalink

          You missed a bit:

          You are protected by the law if, for example, you think you are being treated unfairly when applying for a job because you are a(n) young/older person.

          Your experience falls squarely into that case.

      • Posted November 8, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        Yes, same in Ireland. While the EU allows countries to occasionally get away with not complying with their guidelines, in most cases nowadays you could sue the living daylights out of any company that refused to hire you on the basis of age.

        That is not to say some companies in Europe are not guilty of it, just that they would certainly never admit it to the job applicant because that would be the legal equivalent of basting yourself with barbecue sauce and getting into the alligator infested river in Florida going “Here I am you gorgeous scaly bastards!”

        /Grania

      • Gabrielle
        Posted November 8, 2018 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        I’m 59 and here in the US I’ve been looking on and off for a new job for the last 10 years or so, due to my current one not being so stable. Though age discrimination is illegal, it is very hard to prove it, especially proving it to be the reason why a company would not consider you when applying for a job.
        On LinkedIn, I only have a partial resume and don’t include my dates of graduation for my degrees, though I do have the date of my first job, which clearly shows that I’m in my 50s. I’ve had companies contact me via LinkedIn about job openings that they have, but when they see my full resume, with the graduation dates, they suddenly lose interest. So be it. But how would I prove in a lawsuit that that is the reason why they lost interest?
        As for German CVs – why must a person include their marital status and how many children they have? What if a person is divorced, or in the process of being divorced? Why ever would a company need to know this? At least in the US, inquiring about a person’s marital status and number of children is definitely illegal, and it’s one thing that most companies do follow.

        • Alexander
          Posted November 9, 2018 at 2:33 am | Permalink

          “As for German CVs – why must a person include their marital status and how many children they have?”

          Haha, good question. If you are married, with five school-age children, you are less likely to be interested in a better paying similar job in another country or with the competition.

          • Posted November 9, 2018 at 6:11 am | Permalink

            On the other hand you might also be less inclined to go on business trips if you are married with children.

          • Gabrielle
            Posted November 9, 2018 at 7:15 am | Permalink

            It’s making these blanket assumptions about a person and their career aspirations, based on their marital status and number of children, that is discriminatory, especially if it is used to screen them completely out of the hiring process.
            It appears in Germany that it’s used even to judge men, though this sort of judgmental thinking has mainly been used to screen out women here in the US. About 20 years ago, women were actually given the advice to take off their wedding bands/engagement rings for an interview, though that advice has fallen by the wayside.
            A person can have children and be completely willing to move or work long hours. A person can be unmarried with no children, and be uninterested in moving to a new city or clawing their way up the career ladder.

        • Posted November 9, 2018 at 6:09 am | Permalink

          I’m not condoning this but, if you are in your late fifties, and you are fairly affluent, there has to be thew question in the employer’s mind that you might be retiring soon, I guess.

          In the UK, it is traditional to put your outside interests on your CV as well, but when I’m interviewing candidates, I never look at any of that stuff. I don’t care if you are a stamp collector or keen tennis player, as long as you can do your job.

  8. Draken
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Emile Ratelband was a phenomenon in the Netherlands in the eighties for his American-inspired feelgood motivational management courses.

    an interview with the man from 2002 so you can compare. He used to be married until quite recently to a lass 40 years his minor or so.

    • Draken
      Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      Something ate my “Here’s”.

      • W.T. Effingham
        Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Autocorrect Gawds work in mysterious ways👽.

  9. freiner
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    So I hop into a spaceship and travel at a healthy fraction of the speed of light for what I experience as a year. I come back and it’s 2038. According to my birth certificate I’m 19 years older than I claim to be. I think I have case here, social construction or not.

    • Posted November 8, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      A lot of social practices are awkward if transposed to a civilization where relativistic travel is routine.

      • freiner
        Posted November 8, 2018 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        After I wrote the above I was thinking it might be time to consider the legal implications of the special theory of relativity. The issue of supermarket expiration dates alone could get tricky.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted November 9, 2018 at 3:37 am | Permalink

      That is a plot element or theme in a lot of SF novels/ series/ universes.
      It’s a good example of the functional utility of using SF (etc) to work out the social/ moral consequences of factors which are credible but not in operation at the moment.

  10. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    [ mouth hanging open ]
    [ eyes glaze over ]
    [ close browser ]
    [ goes outside for a walk ]

    • Dominic
      Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      Loonies, I think you meant!

  11. nwalsh
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Why not? Jack Benny was 39.

  12. Joseph McClain
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Competence has been a social construct for a long time.

  13. dabertini
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    All I know is that we need to move this a lot more quickly, because I feel like I am Keira Knightly’s husband, damn it!

  14. Curt Nelson
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I think social constructs are social constructs.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      + 1 bazillion

  15. Christine Janis
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Hey,, it’s Mr. Deity! Clearly, he’s ageless (not to mention timeless)

    But seriously? Yeah, he looks like he’s a reasonably well-preserved pushing 70 type of guy.

  16. Laurance
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Nyaahhh…I’m a 1941 model. How old I am depends on how fat or thin I am.

    If I’m fat, I feel in my 80’s. I hurt, my range of motion is limited, it’s hard to get in and out of the car, and if for some reason I’m down on the floor I’m not getting up without great difficulty, I moan and groan going upstairs.

    But as I lose weight, I lose age. I’m going to Weight Watchers with my daughter, and oh boy, I’m regaining my range of motion, I’m walking better, I’m no longer afraid to get down on the floor if I need to (like getting down to reach under the bed at the Nursing Home for my Sweetie’s slippers or something else he’s dropped). I feel younger, I walk well and am building up my distance, I get in and out of the car, and go upstairs with ease.

    But to legally change my birth year…uhh…that’s another matter. I can indeed pass for being in my late ’50’s but I feel no need to. OTOH, what if I gain my weight back and feel old? Would I have to legally change my birth year again? Would I have to claim I’m older than I actually am?

  17. A C Harper
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    There are international, governmental, legal, medical and financial services and benefits defined by age. Should all these different organisations reset their terms and conditions and cut-off points because a very small minority of people might want a different ‘certificate’ age to their real one?

    Act the age you feel by all means… but don’t expect the rest of the world to change to suit you.

  18. mikeyc
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Gives new meaning to the bumper stickers you see on Corvettes driven by bald fifty year old men; “you’re never to old to have a happy childhood”.

  19. Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Why would anybody feel moved to police what other people say about their own age? Doesn’t each person have a right to manage his or her personal brand (at least as long as nobody’s trying to commit some kind of legal fraud or obtain money or other things of value by false pretenses).

    As far as I understand, people have been lying about their ages forever (usually claiming to be younger). I tend to see the objections to Ratelband’s effort here to be emblematic of the gratuitous censoriousness that is overtaking our society.

    • Christine Janis
      Posted November 9, 2018 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      ‘Why would anybody feel moved to police what other people say about their own age?’

      Because he needs a dating site to convince younger babes that he’s more suitable. Silly man, all he needs is a bigger bank account.

  20. pablo
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Get with the times. It’s Age Confirmation Surgery.

  21. Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    People age at different rates. Some people look ‘old’ much earlier than others, while others look much younger than their ‘age’. I still like to think of myself as being in my late 20’s, and do what I can to keep up with my kids (or beat them, eg. skiing). It would be nice to have some way of recognizing that, particularly with people living longer.

  22. Michael
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Would everyone want to turn the clock back?

    If I’m 59 but I feel like I’m 65, shouldn’t I qualify for Medicare?

    • GBJames
      Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      Yes. We should have Medicare for all.

  23. Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Intriguing, but I wouldn’t do it. I’m 72 and still play basketball with the young uns – I would hate to give up all of those beer bets that I win when someone wants to wager on my age 🙂

  24. Cindy
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Progeria, from Wikipedia:

    “”Progeria is an extremely rare autosomal dominant genetic disorder in which symptoms resembling aspects of aging are manifested at a very early age.[6] Progeria is one of several progeroid syndromes.[7] Those born with progeria typically live to their mid-teens to early twenties.[8][9] It is a genetic condition that occurs as a new mutation, and is rarely inherited, as carriers usually do not live to reproduce. Although the term progeria applies strictly speaking to all diseases characterized by premature aging symptoms, and is often used as such, it is often applied specifically in reference to Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS).””

    And if, as someone on this thread is arguing, one’s sex can be changed through the magic of cosmetic surgery, then so can one’s age, through the same magic.

  25. Posted November 8, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    No doubt the first step in twenty-somethings ‘feeling’ seventy years old and retiring. Who wants to go to work when you can stay home and sit on the couch?

  26. Posted November 8, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Why do I get the impression that this guy is just a troll?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted November 9, 2018 at 3:38 am | Permalink

      Was the photo posed under a bridge?

  27. Serendipitydawg
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I blame Trump – he has made everyone think that facts are a matter of interpretation.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

      Historically not true–religions have been doing that for centuries.

      But, I agree with your point.

      “Pretending that the fake is real only makes the real seem fake.” Xia Jia, in her story “A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight”

      • Alexander
        Posted November 9, 2018 at 2:49 am | Permalink

        That is why 81 percent of self-avowed religious people voted for Trump.

  28. Frank Bath
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I am nearly eighty and have more than once been told I never grew up. As from tomorrow I shall identify eight again. Whoopee!

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted November 9, 2018 at 3:39 am | Permalink

      You’ll deny yourself the pleasure of growing old disgracefully.

  29. Posted November 8, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  30. a-non
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Oh this is a beautiful thing.

    Your name, race, nationality, sex, and age are all what other people think they are. They are external facts, or when not completely immutable facts, they exist primarily in the eyes of others.

    Yet somehow we’ve re-defined these as being things you “identify as”, just feelings. But feelings which you can force the rest of us to respect… because of a hangover from when these were facts. I’m glad to see someone taking the next step!

  31. XCellKen
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Coming soon to a courtroom near you:

    A young lady has 100% consensual sex with a young man.

    This young lady then enters an elite university. She enrolls in several post modern type classes. After attending these classes for several months, she has an epiphany.She now identifies as an underage girl

    The young man with whom she previously had 100% consensual sex is promptly arrested, tried, and convicted for statutory rape !

  32. Posted November 8, 2018 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I turn 80 today. When people ask me if I feel like 80 all I can say is that I have to assume this is what 80 feels like!

  33. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    What kinda guru are you, Dutch dude, you need an app to score a date?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 8, 2018 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      The guy’s a motivational speaker. The bs is strong in this one.

      cr

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted November 9, 2018 at 3:43 am | Permalink

        In deference to our homeopathic colleagues, surely the BS is profoundly diluted in this one.
        (Personally, I suspect trollery.)
        Is concentrating on homeopathy a . . . I’m not sure where that thread leads, but I suspect it goes down a rabbit hole, very quickly.

  34. Jon Gallant
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Since age (like gender and size) is now a social construct, we can look forward to new departments in Academia: “Age Studies”, which will specialize in Critical Age Theory. Don’t we already enjoy a Journal of Fat Studies?

  35. dd
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Can someone give an example of something that is not a social construction that’s not naturally occurring?

    And so what if something is a “cultural construction”?

    • Eric Grobler
      Posted November 8, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      I cannot,
      but I think the problem is that the term “social construct” is used to mean that social norms and perceptions are arbitrary as if humans are a blank slate.

      That is a very dangerous notion because we are animals contrained by our human nature.

  36. Posted November 8, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    “Ratelband, a motivational speaker and trainer in neurolinguistic programming, said his parents were dead.”

    He failed to live up to his profession. He should have said that his parents *believe themselves* to be dead.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted November 9, 2018 at 3:44 am | Permalink

      Did they sit up and argue it with the person screwing the lids onto the coffin?
      I’ll file that one for almost a year from now.

  37. JezGrove
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Every aspect of identity is getting (over) complicated. The Guardian reports that: “Anthony Lennon, a white British theatre director, was awarded a job aimed at increasing black representation. What makes this story particularly controversial is that Lennon, despite having two white parents, has in his past been mistaken for a mixed-race person and once described himself as ‘African born-again’. Lennon, a former actor, was named as one of four ‘theatre practitioners of colour’ to benefit from a £406,500 two-year funding package from Arts Council England. The programme is designed to help ethnic-minority theatre practitioners establish themselves in an industry that has failed to attract a diverse workforce. But should he be treated as black, and therefore be entitled to benefit from such diversity schemes?” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/06/black-anthony-lennon-theatre-director-white-mixed-race

    Lennon’s case has been supported by those who argue that the racial abuse he has suffered as a result of his apparent ‘black’ appearance, despite him being ‘white’, makes him a more worthy recipient of the funding than would be the case of a genuinely ‘black’ applicant whose apparent ‘whiteness’ had allowed them to avoid such discrimination. As they used to say on Soap: “Confused? You will be…”

  38. Roo
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Lol, it puts me in mind of this classic: Trans Everything

    I identify as Jerry Coyne, btw, because his travel life seems far superior to mine. Also I want people to tell me I’m awesome at biology. Soooo…. where do I sign up to receive my half of the 401K and time sharing with the ducks? Also how do I get my travel funded? Can I just write to the U of Chicago for a stipend?

    • JezGrove
      Posted November 8, 2018 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Loved the ‘Trans Everything’ clip – thanks Roo!

    • Posted November 9, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      Who needs a stipend from a university? Just identify as someone with [large sum of money] to your bank or credit card company!

  39. Mark R.
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait until tweens and teens start identifying as 18 or 21 so they can vote and/or drink. I’m 12 and have hair on my chest and a deep voice. I feel like I’m 21. Beer please.

    • JezGrove
      Posted November 8, 2018 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Worked for me, so why not.

  40. Posted November 8, 2018 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I feel like a bear. I will try to file my petition for species change tomorrow. Have to hurry. My hibernation starts soon.

  41. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Heh. I decided when I was 30 to stop getting older as I still *felt* 30 inside. So if anyone asked my age I said “30”.

    I eventually gave that up when the answer was 100% inaccurate (or should that be 50%?) and my age doubled in a day. 😦

    Wish age *was* a social construct then I could just wave away all the aches and pains one gets when ones body is beyond its biological design working life (which is about 30 I reckon. After that, like a very old aeroplane, yer flying on the safety margins).

    However there is some validity to “you’re as old as you feel”. I recall a remark from the caretaker of an upmarket retirement village here (NZ), that when he retired he was going back to his village in Indonesia to be with the living, not staying here with the walking dead.

    cr

  42. JezGrove
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m old enough to remember (actually my grandpappy told me all about it – yeah right!) the old “A man’s only as old as the woman he feels” trope. Looks like Ratelband missed the memo on how stupidly and deeply wrong that was – as did Rupert Murdoch and “president” Trump, apparently.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 8, 2018 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      Right.

      “When I grow up I’m going to be a dirty old man”. 😉

      cr

  43. Posted November 8, 2018 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Olden is as olden does. He doesn’t look 69 and looks older than 49, but I’d like to know if he’s already collecting old age pension.

  44. George
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    I suppose the (very obvious) question that needs asking is, what exactly is 68 supposed to feel like?

    I’m 51 and look, by general consensus, 10-15 years younger.

    That’s my look. I feel like I feel. Which is achier than I did 15 years ago. I see and hear less well, marginally. I’m slightly slower when i run. But I don’t remember getting the manual that described exactly how 51 should feel. I don’t have the worksheet with which to compare my current “feel” with the accepted standard.

    As a result, I suppose this is me feeling 51. That is Dutch dude feeling 69 and you feeling you at almost that age.

    I call nonsense on the whole thing.

  45. Liz
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Species is a social construct because I self identify as a grizzly bear due to the amount of raw salmon I consume.

    • GBJames
      Posted November 9, 2018 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      I self identify as a grizzly bear who’s learned to use the grill.

      • Liz
        Posted November 9, 2018 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        Nice. I guess, more accurately, a grizzly bear who also prepares eggplant parm. in the oven from time to time.

  46. Posted November 8, 2018 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    49! is pretty old, PCC(E).

    -Ryan

  47. Mark Joseph
    Posted November 8, 2018 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    If this guy gets his way, then next year 70 really will be the new 50!

  48. DutchA
    Posted November 9, 2018 at 3:46 am | Permalink

    Mr. Ratelband is an idiot. Always has been. Sad to see him getting the attention he so desperately needs.

    Entertainer, politician, abuser. And full of it.

  49. David Harper
    Posted November 9, 2018 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Mr Ratelband lacks imagination. Why restrict yourself to base-10 arithmetic? Every competent computer programmer is familiar with base-16, or hexadecimal. In base-16, the dashing Dutchman is a mere 45.

    • Posted November 9, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      Everyone can be permanently 10, for example, provided one changes the base every year. 🙂

  50. kelskye
    Posted November 10, 2018 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    My age in terms of years around the sun is 34, but I often feel mentally and emotionally like I’m way younger than that. The derogatory term man-child has been used on more than one occasion.

  51. benkorita
    Posted November 10, 2018 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    I see it as a great way to repel legal duties: claiming that one identifies as an underage person, or avioding recruitment in certain cases. At the last days of obligatory military service, in Hungary many young men used “reasons of conscience” to choose civil service instead of armed military service. Civil service was twice as long, but they were allowed to stay at home. (They were 100% right, I acknowledge.)

  52. Posted November 14, 2018 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    this has got me thinking, i now want to be older, pensioner rates all the way (do they get cheap coffee?)


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