Devaluation of the doll or guy: beautiful mind & youthful spirit meets crinkly lips, sagging gut and stuttering gait. Welcome to fifty-something.

17 02 2011

Kissing is for old people too

While driving my 15 year old daughter to school this morning, she commented on my crinkly lips. She expounded about how nasty looking old people’ (like me, my girlfriend, her mother, her mothers boyfriend) mouths get. How utterly repulsive it was that people my age kissed each other. Yuck. They should just stop doing that at my age except maybe during special occasions like anniversaries. She didn’t say it with any particular malice in her voice. It was more stated like an obvious, unarguable fact.

Our society, though it espouses equality, values people disproportionately. “Old” people are certainly marginalized. Kids and teens are devalued as well. Unfortunately, in many venues, points are still deducted for gender and ethnicity too. Beyond the base measurements, people are sized up by weight, height, build and other physical characteristics. Is the person short, obese, ugly? Do they have pimples, curly hair, big nose, small chest? Do they dress well? What do they do for a living? How much money do they make? Where do they live? Who do they know?

All these facts are measured, assimilated, calculated and a final valuation is made. As if we were buyers and sellers at an expansive social bazaar. We make assessments about someone else’s value. Is that person worth my time and attention?

Gee, I think I am worth 1000 X. She’s probably worth about 500 X. I’ll avoid her. That other women looks like a 1500 X, if I capture her attention, I could boost my worth to 1100 X. And, if we dated, I might hit 1400 -1500 X. Like it or not, there are social economic axioms based upon unwritten but very real valuation schemas. All this is not new though.

Classic Product Valuation Model. Too Often People Become the Products

A cryptic passage from the old testament book of Leviticus, outlines one valuation model used, back in the day: “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
–the valuation of a male from twenty years old up to sixty years old shall be (50) fifty shekels of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary.
–If the person is a female, the valuation shall be (30) thirty shekels.
–If the person is from five years old up to twenty years old, the valuation shall be for a male (20) twenty shekels, and for a female (10) ten shekels.
–If the person is from a month old up to five years old, the valuation shall be for a male (5) five shekels of silver, and for a female the valuation shall be (3) three shekels of silver.
–And if the person is sixty years old or over, then the valuation for a male shall be (15) fifteen shekels, and for a female (10) ten shekels.

In ranked order then; Men and women in the workforce (age 20 to 60) were valued the highest- bringing 50 & 30 shekels respectively. One got 20 shekels for young boys, between ages 5 and 20. Retired men, over 60 brought 15 shekels. Young ladies and retired women were equally valued at 10 shekels. Little tykes were considered least valuable, bringing 5 shekels for the boys and 3 for the girls.

A 4,000 year old overt “biblical”? model of valuation compared to today’s “covert” socio-cultural model. Not a lot of real progress in societal consciousness. We all do it though. Even those of us who consider ourselves “enlightened”, open-minded, non-racist, humanistic. We make value judgements about others. We make value judgements about ourselves. We calculate our worth and worthiness based upon cultural standards and other peoples opinions. In addition, many of us wrestle against the weight of lingering childhood messages that we had little or no value. Or we only had value as it related to doing something or being someone FOR somebody else. We had little or no intrinsic worth.

Them be my sentiments

So, how many shekels am I worth? Upon what scales am I to be measured? What criteria am I using to value myself and others? Are the weights that I’m using accurate and true? Again, to reference scripture, Proverbs states, “The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.”