Feminist gerontology

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Feminist gerontology

  1. 1. 1
  2. 2. The traditions of feminism theorizing and research: 1. Expose social construction of gender 2. Reveal the ways in which patriarchal gender relations reproduce inequality 3. Challenge gender as neither natural nor essential 4. Provide a useful orientation to research and theory in the areas of aging and family 2
  3. 3. FeministFeminist GerontologyGerontology 3
  4. 4. Deals only with “special” population, such as women, and excludes old men. Understand gender as relationalrelational Feminism “enables us to theorize gender relations: the power relations that construct the interdependent categories of man and woman.” (p.S305) 4
  5. 5. What is feminist gerontology? 1. Using man as reference group, and woman are added to the existing theoretical frameworks or models. 2. Consider gender as a fixed, demographic or descriptive variable Feminism gerontologists theorize gender relations as forces that shape both social organizations and identities that emerge as men and women interact with one another. Gender relations are dynamic, constructed power relations embedded in social processes and institutionalized in social arenas with important consequences for life chances. It encompasses men and women alike, exploring their linked experiences. It provides a theoretical framework and knowledge built upon the experiences of groups situated in a web of interlocking power relations. 5
  6. 6. We study women as well as men! 6
  7. 7. The aims of feminist gerontology It provides an important framework for exploring lives of all old people, including those who are privileged on one or more dimensions. The relational understanding of privilege and oppression provides a basis from which we can build a more inclusive and effective understanding of old age. (p. S313) 7
  8. 8. Why do we introduce feminist perspective to gerontology 8 Although gender relations are included among the key structured social relations, they appear particularly vulnerable to minimization. A primary reason is the risk of discounting gender as a central set of structured social relations involving power differentials, which too often “lose” to class and race.
  9. 9. 9
  10. 10. The intersection of AGE and GENDER 10
  11. 11. Women invisible? 11
  12. 12. i. Women were studied as homogenous objects/ groups/ collective female identity ii. Woman, the opposite sex of men/ “the other” (de Beauvior, male power define themselves as essential beings, as subjects/ women non-essential beings, objects) iii. Age should be included in the structural categories of gender theoretical texts. 12
  13. 13. Simone de Beauvoir The Self/Subject is the active, knowing subject of traditional epistemology, and is by default male. De Beauvoir argues that the Other, who exists for the Self/Subject in an asymmetrical relationship, is female and feminized, occupying a secondary place in both concrete activity and subjective consciousness. The Other is not an equal complement to the Self/Subject, but rather serves as a projection of everything the Self/Subject rejects: immanence, passivity, voicelessness. 13
  14. 14. Old women invisible 14
  15. 15. The construction of “the woman of reproductive age” in research • Selection of arenas and themes • Model monopoly (eg. motherhood) • Lack of problematization of age (excluded from sampling/ 65+ women nonexistent/ stereotypes of old woman: in need of care) 15
  16. 16. Asymmetries of power lead to uneven attention in theory constructing (McMullin, 2005) 16
  17. 17. The interplay of age and gender 17
  18. 18. AGE (ageism) GENDER (sexism) The combination of sexism and ageism supposedly make’s women’s aging more problematic than men’s. (p 161) 18
  19. 19. Brainstorm Can you think of some examples that challenge the statement of double-jeopardy of age and gender? What are women’s advantages in aging? 19
  20. 20. Group A: Physical Group B: Mental Group C: Social 20
  21. 21. AGE (ageism) GENDER (sexism) Critiques of using double/triple/multiple jeopardy approach: • Simplification, ignores that these structures of oppression are different • Complex interplay between power relations can create qualitatively different experiences. • Disregard the roles of individuals as actors who create their own experiences, and that, consequently, the interplay may be turned into assets for the individual instead. (p.162) 21
  22. 22. Ingrid Arnet Connidis She is Professor of Sociology at the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada. Alexis J. Walker •Alexis Walker holds the Jo Anne Leonard Petersen Chair in Gerontology and Family Studies and is Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences at Oregon State University 22
  23. 23. http://www.tudou.com/programs/vie w/GdcAPSpAWRQ/ 23
  24. 24. individual: gendered selves that are a product of socialization, internalization, identity work, and construction of the self. interactional: women and men face gendered cultural expectations about how they are to behave in their relationships, including gendered views of status, cognitive bias, needs for protection and protecting, and subordinate positions. institutional: organizational practices, legal regulations, ideology and distribution of resources encourage and reinforce gender relations Barbara Risman Title: Professor (University of Illinois, Chicago) Research Interests: gender inequality and families; feminist activism and public sociology 24
  25. 25. INEQUALITY age class sexual orientation ethnicity race gender 25
  26. 26. Intersectionality Within gender theory, the concept of intersectionality was introduced in the 1990s to emphasize how power relations, rather than being based on additive principles, should be understood as dynamic interactions. (Collins, 1998; Crenshaw, 1993 1994 p.163) Rather than examining gender, race, class, and nation as distinctive hierarchies, intersectionality examines how they mutually construct one another’s. (Collins, 1998) 26
  27. 27. macrostructual inequalities Micro-level power relations 27 Gender is institutionalized through ideology, practices, constraints, conflicts and power, and challenges the macro-micro dualism that characterized earlier attempts to link individual experience with larger societal contexts. Feminists argue that dichotomies such as macro-micro construct social ties in a way that fosters power imbalance. (p.148)
  28. 28. Life course A life-course perspective enables us to study the dynamic interactions through life time.
  29. 29. Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind. “It is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of deep springs of life ---- Samuek Ullman 29
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