Debate: Sexy at Sixty?

Is ageism is ever acceptable? Is it ever okay to see over-60s simulating sex on morning television?

ageism Anna Sheinman Anne Robinson daytime tv discrimination media oap over-sixties Sex Sex Positions sexism This Morning TV watershed

Last week, This Morning triggered public outrage when an elderly couple volunteered to demonstrate a sex position. But is this right? Should we embrace the sexy over-sixties, or get them off our screens?

Old people are everywhere – strolling around markets, shuffling about in parks, napping on your couch. Hugh Hefner, one of the biggest lads in human history, is an old person. The Queen, the face on that penny in your wine, is an old person. With the ever-improving health service at our disposal, the elderly population has skyrocketed and sooner or later, you too will become an old person.

I admit, there is something inherently dodgy about watching a couple on This Morning emulating the ‘face-to-face’ position, whilst you tuck into your Cheerios. Nevertheless, this is overlooking the fact that there are members of the public who took offence simply because the couple in question were over 60.

But why should we discriminate against people simply because of their age? For a start, discriminating against anyone over something that they have no control over is completely unacceptable. Sexists and racists are guilty on that count; yet as bad as they are, at least they’re not hypocrites. Ageists are the worst when it comes to discrimination simply because at some point in their lives, they themselves qualified, or will qualify, as part of the group which they loathe.

While I’m not sure it should be acceptable to get couples, whatever their age, to perform sex simulations on morning TV, I am sure that there should be no reason to favour a younger couple over an older one. Old or young, we’re all still human – and humans of all ages need sex (although possibly not prepubescents. I’m not advocating paedophilia).

And there’s no point in denying it – old people are sexy too. Just look at Moira Stuart or Anne Robinson – who doesn’t go weak at the knees from that flirtatious Weakest Link wink?

Position of the Day: OAPs getting steamy on This Morning

ANNA SHEINMAN argues that OAPs should step aside for the younger generation. 

Ageism is discrimination on the basis of age. Discrimination is differentiation without good reason. And if you don’t hold philosophical debates with a 3 year old, or play rugby with a 90 year old, you are treating people differently because of their age. But that’s okay, because you do have a good reason. Somewhere, in all the shouting about prejudice and how unfair it all is, we’ve lost that distinction.

When a 72-year-old shows his free bus pass, the other passengers don’t shake their heads in anger at how the poor man is being discriminated against. When I stand up to let that old man sit down he does not cry: “ageism!” And when he and his blue rinse brigade pals disembark said bus at the Post Office to collect their state pensions, they do not tut about the disgrace of their weekly dose of cash.

Whether it’s because they’re physically weaker, unable to work, or just deserve a break after 40 years of toil, we have decided, as a nation, that old people should be treated differently. And if that’s the case, they’ve got to take the rough with the smooth.

The same goes for the media. If you don’t want to see old people in pyjamas simulating sex on daytime TV that’s probably because you don’t find old people sexually attractive, and that’s for some pretty sound biological reasons. And if you, as a television producer, want Moira Stuart to sit down so that someone younger can stand up, that’s okay too: it creates jobs for young people, who probably need the gig more than she does.

As it is, in the case of Moira Stuart, it seems she was actually the victim of sexism. Take all the old people off screen by all means – we all know they’re not as aesthetically pleasing. But when you start doing it to the girls and not the boys, and the best reason you’ve got is something relating to women (and the kitchen) then I’ll start shouting.

What do you think? Use the comment board below to share your thoughts.