Women in Late Life: Critical Perspectives on Gender and Age

Women in Late Life: Critical Perspectives on Gender and Age

by Martha Holstein


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Contemporary old age is fraught with contradiction and complexity—women portrayed either as incompetent and cuddly grandmothers or as young women trapped in old bodies, images that rarely reflect how women actually see themselves. Women in Late Life explores the thorny issues related to gender and aging, including prevailing but problematic cultural expectations, body image, ageism, the experience of chronic illness, threats to Social Security and the very possibility of a secure retirement while challenging a long-term care system that disadvantages women.

Author Martha Holstein writes from a critical feminist perspective, drawing on her many years of experience in gerontology, as well as interviews and personal experience as a woman now in her seventies. The book highlights how women’s experience of late life is shaped by the effects of lifelong gender norms, by contemporary culture—from gender stereotypes to ageism—and by the political context. The book blends critique with proposals aimed at resisting damaging inequities resulting from being simultaneously old and a woman. She focuses on changes needed on multiple levels—societal, cultural, political, and individual. This interdisciplinary look at key questions around gender and aging is nuanced and beautifully written.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442222861
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 02/12/2015
Series: Diversity and Aging Series
Pages: 316
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Martha Holstein has spent forty-one years working in the field of aging both in the community and in academia. At Loyola University, she has taught health care ethics while at the University of Chicago she teaches aging and health policy. She also works on long-term care policy at the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group in Chicago. For many years she was the associate director of the American Society on Aging and a Research Scholar at the Park Ridge Center for the Study of Health, Faith and Ethics. She has published widely in academic journals and books, is co-author of the recent work, Ethics, Aging, and Society: The Critical Turn, written with two Loyola colleagues and the co-editor of several books, including Ethics in Community-Based Elder Care.

Table of Contents

The Women of Mayslake
Part I. The Body and Beyond
Chapter 1. What Do You See When You Look At Me?: Women, Aging, and Our Bodies
Chapter 2. Ageism: You’re Only as Old as You Feel and Other Fictions
Chapter 3. The “New Old Age”: From Productive Aging to Anti-Aging and Everything in Between
Chapter 4. Disruptions and Repair: Identity and Chronic Illness
Part II. Aging Women in Contemporary Society
Chapter 5: A Looming Dystopia: Feminism, Aging, and Community-Based Long-Term Care
Chapter 6: Retirement: In Pursuit of Women’s Economic Security
Chapter 7. Beyond Rational Control: Reflections on End-of-Life Care
Part III. I’m an Old Lady and Damn Proud of It (Maggie Kuhn)
Chapter 8. Resistance and Change: Where to From Here?

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