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The Social Construction of Older Women in Feminist Discourses
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2003 (English)In: 6th Conference of the European Sociological Association: Ageing in Europe, 2003Conference paper (Other (popular scientific, debate etc.))
Abstract [en]


The feministic subject, expressed as ‘the woman’ and ’her experiences’ has been central in feminist theories. However, many have shown that these constructions of gender have been based on whiteness, middleclass and heterosexuality. Still, less attention has been paid to the assumptions of age concealed in these theories.

This paper discusses the image of ‘the woman’ based upon a Swedish official research report on gender issues. The case study distinguishes three forms of age constructions:

1. Selection of arenas and themes, 2. Model monopoly and 3. Lack of problematisation of age. One example of these mechanisms is how the emphasis on the combination of family life and working life as a central theme, creates a vision of a woman in a specific age. The image of a fertile woman in working age appears and makes other ages and other ways of life concealed. This image is further constructed by reproducing family as synonymous with household and parents only as parents to minor children. In addition, the age blindness becomes apparent in the statistics as well, which only includes ages from 18 to 64 years, and thereby creates the image of women 64 + as none existing.

The concluding impression is that ‘the woman’ that comes to light in this case study is of fertile age and she fights her way to combine family and working life. Older women, on the other hand, are made invisible as actors. To the extent that they appear they do so as passive objects in need for care. In other words, the study indicates that gender research can be based on age blind departing points and that these assumptions give a simplified picture of older women or simply make them invisible.

The paper, finally, suggests that instead of taking an age potential for granted in all feminist theories, constructive might be to scrutinize feministic theories from an age perspective.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-68502OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-68502DiVA: diva2:96413
Available from: 2005-03-01 Created: 2005-03-01

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Krekula, Clary
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