Why it’s considered offensive to ask a woman her age

Olivia Henry
Published in
6 min readAug 28, 2020

Challenging the idea that it’s not offensive

Image by McGill Library via Unsplash

Apparently, some people believe it’s really inappropriate to ask a woman her age. Somehow I wasn’t aware of this until recently when my dad brought it to my attention seemingly perplexed by the idea.

He didn’t think it made any sense and to be honest, I understand why.

At first, the idea was really strange to me as well for a number of reasons. One is that I’ve never been offended or found the question rude. In fact, I’ve found a bit of fun in it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly thrilled at the idea of being old one day, but I don’t see the issue of age in a negative light. That probably doesn’t mean much coming from me, a woman in her mid-twenties since this mostly applies to older women.

But even then, when I reflect on the older women around me including my mother and my grandmother have always been pretty open about their age as far I could recall. Throughout the years I’ve always known my mother’s date of birth so I could always calculate it even if I forgot her current age. She never made me feel like it was wrong to ask her age. So, it was strange to me that women were actually very offended about being asked such a basic question. Especially since age is a basic part of our identity, much like our name.

I mean there’s not much you can do to prevent others from knowing your age 100% of the time. You’ll have to disclose it at some point. It’s everywhere — on your birth certificate, your drivers' license, etc. It may as well be on your forehead. And even if that wasn’t the case, most people’s age can be estimated just by just looking at them and talking to them for a while.

The appropriacy of the question is based on relationship

The fact that age is something that has to be communicated in some official situations means that everyone who is supposed to know already knows someone should already know or will have the means to find out. If you’re not within this realm of relationship with the person, you probably don’t need to know. Whether for social or legal reasons. From everyone else, the question is intrusive.

Olivia Henry

Welcome to my very own informed mind dump. Look around…read something. Don’t be shy.