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Images of Women in Feministic Theories - A concealed agebias?
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2003 (English)In: The Cultural in Gerontology:Approaches and Methods, 2003Conference paper (Other (popular scientific, debate etc.))
Abstract [en]

The issue of normativity, who The Woman in feministic research is and how her situation is has to some extent been discussed in feministic theories. Many researchers have showed that these constructions of gender have been based on whiteness, middle class and heterosexuality. However, less attention has been paid to the question about the age of the woman in these theories.

By an overview of some feministic theories, which have contributed to debate and theoretical development, some recurrent themes can be identified: reproduction, production and sexuality. A focus on reproduction and fertility obviously contributes to a delimitation of age of the Woman in these theoretical reproductions. It is the image of a fertile and gainfully employed woman that appears. So, paradoxically, even though many theoreticians have emphasized the importance of reproduction for the subordinated position of women, few have raised the question of how women’s experiences of life beyond the fertile period can contribute to the development of feministic theories.

In this paper I raise the discussion about how feministic theories create the image of a woman in mid-life. With the starting point in examples from Swedish official reports about gender issues I will show how these texts are based on a hidden bias of a woman in fertile age. Age limitations appear already by the selection of problems and by an unproblematic usage of central concept such as “family” and “parent”. The image of a woman who balance family and career is intensified by the chosen examples and arenas. Furthermore, age per se is rarely problemized and tables and the statistics in the empirical studies do not go beyond 64 years. An emphasize on themes like family and labour markets, together with an application of concepts that is unaware of age marginalize elderly women from these representations. The concept of family is for example often used synonymous with the nuclear family. In this way discussions about e.g. care for family members principally deal with charge of small children and less with the care given by elderly women. In a similar way, the concept of parent seems to be similar to the parent with small or young children. In other words, the role as a caregiver is emphasized before kinships relations. When elderly women in exceptional cases appear in these official reports is it more as object that need care than as an independent actor.

In this paper I will deal with the question if it also would be possible to shed light on other issues by using a life course perspective that reaches beyond the age of 64. Another theme that will be brought to discussion is in which way such a perspective also could contribute to and modify feministic theories.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-68500OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-68500DiVA: diva2:96411
Available from: 2005-03-01 Created: 2005-03-01

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