When people hear the word “ageism”, they almost always think of the discrimination against older people. They must be blind to the way young people are treated. Prejudices against young people are always worse than prejudice against old people, and young people are frequently harassed and bullied for doing things that adults do on a regular basis.

Any attempts to require senior citizens to retake their driving test always fail, because old people call it “age discrimination”. Young people, on the other hand, don’t even have the option of taking a test to prove that they can drive. Those who are under 18 face discriminatory driving laws, and those who are under 16 are prohibited from driving, no matter how safely they drive.

Old people complain about being discriminated against on the job, but young people have it much worse. Many businesses won’t hire anyone under a certain age, sometimes due to a government-mandated restriction. Bosses also frequently prejudge their young employees.

Want to relax and have a couple drinks? Adults do this all the time like it’s a normal activity, but people under 21 face government-sponsored violence (legal penalties) if they have just one sip. Some places won’t even let them in, even if they do not plan on drinking.

Want to see your favorite movie? If it’s R rated and you’re under 17, you can’t see it, just because of your age.

Want to hang out with your friends at night? If you plan on going outside, be sure to use a time machine, because the police will harass you for being outside at night just because of your age.

Want to go to the mall? Some malls have policies prohibiting youths from entering after a certain time.

Any business that wants to discriminate against young people has an easy way to do that. If they decide to start serving alcohol, they now have an excuse to prohibit youths from entering.

Teachers bullying you? Too bad. You’re forced to go to school and put up with all their bullshit.

Parents bullying you? Nothing you can do about it. Young people are basically the legal property of their parents. Parents can also legally hire thugs to kidnap their kids and keep them locked up in a behavior modification camp, where they will be constantly abused.

Feel that a law is unjust? If you’re under 18, you can’t even vote against the asshole politicians who made the unjust law.

Young people certainly have it much worse than old people do. They can’t drive. They can’t drink or enter some places that serve alcohol. They can’t be outside at night. They can’t see R rated movies or play M rated video games with their peers. They are forced to go to school, where they are treated like prisoners. They are forced to allow their parents to control every aspect of their lives. Parents can also abuse their kids by hitting them or by sending them to behavior modification camps. To make matters worse, they can’t even vote to fix this. None of this would ever be imagined for old people. So why, when people hear the word “ageism”, do they think of discrimination against old people? It’s because discrimination against youths is so normalized in our society that people don’t recognize it. The more oppressed a group is, the less the oppression is noticed.

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  1. While I agree with a lot of this, seriously, don’t play the “my oppression is worse than your oppression” card. It’s not a competition. All oppression is wrong, and when we start pitting them against one another, especially (though not possible in this case, at least not at the same time) when there are people who belong to both oppressed groups, nobody benefits and the only outcome is silencing and invalidating other people. Discrimination against the elderly is very real, and while they may not be subject to the same legal restrictions as youth, they too are often disregarded and ignored because they are assumed to be demented or something. Youth rights does not need to lean on other oppression issues of the past and present in order to gain validation, as it’s perfectly capable of doing so without that rather counterproductive and often offensive device.

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