Remembering My Hat

7th July 2015

iages conference: Part 5

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 16:32

Final liveblog of the iages conference. For previous sessions and disclaimers, click backwards from here.

Travis Kong, Hong Kong

The secret garden: Oral history of older gay men in Hong Kong

Wants to understand the changing meaning and nature of homosexuality in many transformations of Hong Kong + changes over life course.

Ageing studies sited in Hong Kong don’t talk about sexuality, studies of homosexuality don’t talk about older people.

20 60+ (60-89) gay men living in HK for more than 40 years. Mostly Chinese, 4 ex pat British.

Colonial HK (1940s and 50s):

  • Homosexuality a crime but arrest very rare – no entrapment like in UK. Why? Govt didn’t want to intervene too much in society. Boundary politics allows space for homosexuality.
  • More about shame than fear.
  • Most people lived in very cramped housing because of high densities – communal living. Physical security and emotional support.
  • Development of argots – ‘going to the gardens to see fish’ ‘played mah-jong, got a good tile’
  • Public spaces, streets, train stations, public toilets – non-normative intimacy. Both public and private simultaneously. Chauncey 1994 “privacy could only be had in public” of New York 1920s

HKSAR (1997 – )

  • Homosexuality decriminalised but still no same sex marriage or anti-discrim law.
  • Families become more privatised, more people living on their own
  • Some still living with wives, privileging families over lovers. Sacrificing themselves to benefit traditional family? Both heterosexual and homosexual [not bisexual?! Surely a candidate descriptor, even if not the right one for this particular individual]. Flexible and multiple identities possible outside Western paradigms. Coming out narratives don’t fit very well.
  • Secret gardens have gone. New gay spaces not always welcoming to older men.

After interviews, set up monthly group, they’ve produced a book together of life stories for non-academic audiences. Lots of amazing photos, with constraint that only two of them were out (masks, hands before face). Knowledge exchange. Set up peer counselling group and telephone helpline for older gay men.


(cc) chong head

Neil Henderson, Univ of Western Cape, South Africa

LGBT ageing and care: A literature study

Report on his fellowship at Sue Ryder centre, Univ of Nottingham. Focusing particularly on care needs of older LGBT people. Got funding for project last month!

[Not many notes because quite familiar terrain to me. Including citing me]

Implications of the literature for South Africa. Older Person’s Act 2006 – broad legislation, nothing specific about LGBT people but constitution is v progressive and civil unions act 2006 allows same sex marriage. Democracy feels fragile but progress on LGBT rights feels possible.

Health care is quite focused on opportunistic infections, so not much on ageing issues. 10% of population is HIV+ and it’s already under-resourced. Little social work intervention for older LGBT people.

Kathy Almack, Nottingham

Navigating personal networks: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans older people’s networks of support towards the end of life

[not much noted as I’m very familiar with this work too]

Mother who had become more accepting of his male partner, but with dementia became less so again -real dilemmas for him to care for mother but not accept her abuse of his partner.


(cc) Nell Moralee

Orla Parslow-Breen, Surrey

Family carer or lesbian: Is it a choice or can I be both?

Lit review from her PhD – submitting next week.

Linda Pickard – single women more likely to become carers than partnered, especially if childless.Taxonomy of different types of daughters (Brody et al. 1994) does not seem to include lesbian daughters. Spinster model v. sandwich model (= married daughter with kids). Much recent research has been on sandwich caring.


iages conference: Part 4

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 15:09

See previous posts for earlier sessions and disclaimers

Session 5: Intersections


(cc) Amafirlian

Ieva Stoncikaite, Spain

Erica Jong: No fear of ageing and sexuality

Zipless fuck as an encounter without objectification. Self-fulfilment and liberation through sex.

1994 Fear of Fifty problematises this former project. 2007 ‘Beyond the “Zipless Fuck” with Erica Jong suggests older women should have sex with women and decentre phallus in sexual practices. Sex less important but still significant. Jong’s writing about sex has changed as she has aged.

Has a new book coming out in September 2015 Fear of Dying

Neal King, Virginia Tech

Knowing hegemony among intersecting relations

How to recognise hegemony in an intersectional framework? Acceptance of subordination = hegemony. Epistemology of the closet. Sexuality is closeted, gender recasts submission as love, age does it through denying for a long time (you’re not old) and then recasting as love (stepping aside for the next generation)

Age relations are therefore a really good site for thinking about hegemonic masculinity. Ceremonial citations! People really just mean masculinity – list of traits or norms (strength, power, sexual drive, assertiveness etc.)

Connell’s original definition explicitly said ‘in ways that gain the consent to subordination’ (Gramscian). Hegemonic masculinity is about the effects – the consent of the dominated. But harder to get data on this.

How can we get data on this? Look at the diminishment of masculinity and status with older age. Study with Finnish data too – respondents tend to accept ageing will reduce status because of loss of physical and professional status. Buy into neo-liberal imputation of individual responsibility – your fault when you age. Accepting personal responsibility means accepting subordination.

Allows you to look at the actual hegemony, not just lists of traits. People hold themselves responsible, that is hegemonic masculinity.

Chryssy Hunter, London Met

Issues around identity, sexuality an economics in the context of trans* and sexgender nonconforming ageing.

T is not just an adjunct to LGB. Cis as a way of making privilege visible. But it gets reified to suggest that people are either cis or trans – this sets up another binary, which is not helpful.

Sexgender nonconforming is a term she has only started using more recently, previously just used T. [lovely Venn diagram – can’t represent it here].

LGB communities have always done gender differently e.g. butch and femme lesbians, camp gay men. Significance of historical context to which identities are claimed and claimable. Respondents saying they would have identified differently if born at a different point. Sexuality gets recast as gender [one of the Looking Both Ways interviewees reported this too].

T and sexgen nonconforming people’s experiences different from LGB – ‘back into the closet’ while far from ideal, may not even be possible. Legal protections still very limited [also the case for poly people]. Poverty a very unprotected characteristic, indeed demonised, and a particular issue for T and sexgen nonconforming people.

Andy King

Intersecting what? Exploring intersection of ageing, gender, sexualities in talk-in-interaction

Work in progress, not yet a paper.

Picking up Neal’s term of ‘ceremonial’ use of terms. Wants to avoid ceremonial approach to intersectionality [yes, really important project].

Putting intersectionality together with Conversation Analysis, specifically MCA.

Intersectionality foreground the matrix and contextual effects – fits nicely with CA. Lesley McCall 2005 taxonomy of three intersectional approaches:

  1. Anticategorical – deconstructs singular categories to illustrate their effects, like my paper yesterday.
  2. Intracategorical – takes a single category and examines complexity within the group Jill Willken’s paper yesterday
  3. Intercategorical – Mark Hughes paper yesterday

Sociological problem – a dance of constraint and resistance. Raises a methodological dilemma – how do we show it empirically, not just say it exists. How do people do intersectionality in talk, CA is the answer [surprise surprise!]

[summary of ethnomethodology,  CA and MCA] Recipient-designed i.e. radically contextual. Categories predict actions.

[account of research project and resulting sociological queasiness]

iages conference: Part 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 12:38

More liveblog notes from a conference. Click backwards for earlier sessions and disclaimers.

Yvette Taylor, South Bank

The queer subject of ‘getting on’

Lots of generational talk in sexualities research – coming of age of queer movements.

Reproduction talk is very time-focused – time bomb, older/younger mothers

Queer families:

  • Very classed in approaches to temporality. M/C L&G parents invoked ‘good planning’, long-term effort – better that het people because can’t have children without planning and effort. W/C didn’t.

Queer Cares:

  • Yvette and her grandmother. Movement in time from grandmother to patient

Queer spaces of Academia:

  • Neo-liberal universities create normative temporalities. Pregnant researchers, ESRC funding deadlines


(cc) epSos .de

Emmanuel Mogaji, Bedfordshire

Breaking the stereotype: Ageing, gender, sexualities intersections in UK print advertisements

Adverts as source of information on social stereotypes (Kay and Furnham, 2013)

Analysed print adverts in 9 UK newspapers; quality, midmarket and tabloid.

Adults mostly featured in relation to fashion, travel and food. Older adults healthcare and energy companies. Men more likely to be found in business locations, women in home. Women more likely to be featured in sexual pose. Non-heterosexual sexuality not visible. Two women together, but could be friends. Maybe a celebrity who was known to be queer would read as LGBT?

Mocked up some images changing the photograph of the person in the advert – older black woman in advert for bank advice team, pregnant woman on ad for life insurance, two women in bed with a baby on advert for mattress.

Maricel Oro-Piqueras, Catalunya

Representations of female ageing and sexuality in Penelope Lively’s Moon Tiger, Angela Carter’s Wise Children, and Doris Lessing’s ‘The Grandmothers’.

Gott and Hinchliff’s finding about significance of no longer expecting a new partner to sexuality. Quoting my old ‘That’s very rude’ paper (Jnl of Narrative Inquiry, 2003? 2004?) on older women talking about sex.

Moon Tiger challenges bildungsroman with marriage as the endpoint.

Wise Children 75 yr old twin women. Sex as disrupting time, returning to past.

[Missed the point about The Grandmothers, sorry]

Elizabeth Barry, Warwick

Narrower and narrower would her bed be: Menopause in philosophy, (sexual) politics and culture

Virginia Woolf wrote elliptically about menopause, in her diary and in early drafts of Mrs Dalloway (published draft even more elliptical), had ambiguous feelings about it herself.

Clarissa initially feels ‘sisterly’ to minor character who may be menopausal, but then contrasts herself to her dried-up, shrivelled persona. Later, Clarissa feels ‘suddenly shrivelled, aged, breastless’ + quote from title. Party and dinner party are social comforts. When denied, feels invisible.

De Beavoir comments on Mrs Dalloway’s moments of luminous happiness in The Second Sex. Germaine Greer The Change critiques de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex and view of ageing as dying. But, as Stephen Katz points out, that’s been the medical characterisation of ageing since the 19th C.

Robert Wilson 1963 ‘The fate of the non-treated postmenopausal woman: A plea for the maintenance of adequate oestrogen from puberty to grave’ Jnl of Am Geriatrics Society. (Mis)quotes de Beauvoiir in later book Feminine Forever 1966. Menopause as pathological disorder. Greer also draws on these medical accounts of unavoidable.

Kathleen Woodward comments on the oddly archaic inevitability and time inflexibility of Greer’s account

Audience comment: Betty Frieden’s Fountain of Age came out at the same time, also writing about menopause.

6th July 2015

iages conference: Part 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 18:07

More liveblog notes from a conference. See here for first part and disclaimers.

Plenary 2

Mark Hughes, Southern Cross Uni, Australia

Health and wellbeing of lesbians and gay men in later life: Exploring commonalities and differences

Snapshot of quantitative evidence on LGBT ageing

Quant research is important part of evidence-based practice discourse which informs service development.

Issues of invisibility of older people in general large-scale studies of sexuality (age limit 59 [like old NATSAL, but no longer, hooray])

How can quant evidence make sense of LGBT experiences and intersecting inequalities?

Looking at 8 large general health surveys with significant no.s LGBT age 50+ in sample (i.e. thousands). Mostly from US, couple from Australia, one Israeli (but no.s smaller – 209 L&Gs aged 55+)

+ their Outrageous Ageing study – 50+ LGBTI ppl across New South Wales

Small no.s of BTI respondents, so only talking about L&G. 134 L, 137 gay men make up sample

Mental health worse than general population, and older (65+) better than younger (as in general population).

Gay men seem to have better access to health services than lesbians, more likely to be out to GP. Maybe due to history of accessing sexual health services? May be an advantage in later life.

Still don’t know much about LGBTI ppl in their 80s and older [although it’s also that it’s really hard to recruit people in the 4th age to research studies, whatever their age]

Similarities between lesbians and gay men, doesn’t mean the causal factors were the same.

Gay men more likely to live alone than lesbians in later life.

Large-scale studies seem to be more likely to ask about sexuality than used to be. Studies of non-response rates suggest non-response to be twice as high for income as for sexuality!

Reached bi people best through general studies, rather than through connections to LGBT communities/organisations.

Publications available in powerpoint version

Session 2: Queer Kinship


(cc) the great 8

[Me: ‘Queer’ and ‘traditional’ families in bisexual people’s imagined and experienced later life]

Yiu-Tung Suen, Hong Kong

What’s gay about being single? A qualitative study of the lived experiences of older single gay men

Single people live in a couple culture. Sociologists find a single-by-choice narrative in order to resist pressures of couple culture.

25 single gay men 50+, aged 52-73, half undergrad educated.

Could access alternative discourses decentring the conjugal couple. Gay liberation as about sleeping around as much as possible. Monogamous quasi-marriage as selling-out. Freedom for sexual exploration as positive aspect of singleness.

Several had fuck buddies but didn’t want to be in a couple relationship with that person – choice discourse.

Others talked about no choice because in 1970s would have been ‘kiss of death’. Homophobia causing singleness [potentially a no fault explanation]. Stigma of being seen accessing gay scene.

All experienced social pressure to be in a couple. But all the talk about fuck buddies really doesn’t fit stereotype of lonely older gay men.

Sue Westwood, Surrey

Constructing care networks in succession law (England and Wales): An analysis of older lesbians’ and gay men’s Will-writing

Drawing theoretically on intersectionality and care ethics, especially in how it is under-prioritised in law. Intestacy laws privilege biological family and couple relationships.

Families of choice literature summary – our friends are our families. Wants to complicate and disrupt this story.

Pahl and Spencer 2004 other more useful theorisations of kindship – friendship focused v family focused & given relationships v. chosen relationships etc.

In England you can leave your money to whoever you like [unlike France]. So we can make our kin, not just reflect it (Finch and Mason 2000, p. 162)

Very little on L&G wills. Except Daniel Monk’s on contested Wills + EM Forster’s will – recommended. Found older L&G people more likely to leave money to biological family if they accepted their sexuality.

Focus on wills wasn’t hers, came out in data as a way people talked about care and kinship. 15 ppl talked about wills, all single ppl, mostly gay men.

Mostly privileging children and blood relations, despite estrangement and past homophobia from them. But also some doing what they thought was morally right to exes and step-mother (in return for her care to his father)

Will-writing not always constituting kinship. Sometimes wills are acts of caring and sometimes they are completely distinct.

Audience: Living giving as a way to get round sensitivities of Wills – looks fair on paper between your children, but actually you give more in life to the one (often daughter) who supports you.

Session 3: Temporal (dis)locations


(cc) H Dragon

Kinneret Lahad and Haim Hazan, Tel Aviv

The return of the old spinster: Social death in late singlehood

Terrifying old maids still widely available stereotype. Why is it so long-lasting? Why do single women become seen as old younger than coupled ones? 20s and 30s = old if single. [not sure this is the case in the UK. 40s maybe. Although maybe it does – Bridget Jones’ fear is this]. Crazy cat woman. If change gender, a single man keen on cats would be very desirable!

Jill Willkens, South Bank

All change please

35 Lesbians and bisexual women aged 57-73, 22 fr northern England, 13 from southern Enlgland, all white, born 1940 – 1956.

Project was going to be about role of support groups for L&B women, but ended up being much wider ranging.

Many felt culturally out of place. Many had been first of their family to go on to university, felt out of place class-wise for rest of life. Sense of difference around sexuality added to this for many. Living through rapid social change also made them feel out of place.

Using Bordieu’s idea of cleft habitus – sense of self torn by dislocations.

Didn’t use participants’ own definitions of class because, drawing on McDermott’s 2010 framework, this can be very misleading. 70% of her sample were born working class but university or college educated – upward mobility, usually portrayed as a good thing, but not necessarily because creates disjunctures. Emotional pull of old class loyalties. Refusal of apparent current middle-class lifestyle.

Many reported knowing they were lesbian for 20 or 30 years before they came out – another dislocation.

So support groups really important because they are the one place they feel in place – safe space [although at what cost to the excluded groups? Depends on the group’s boundaries, of course].

Elham Amini, Durham

Insider or outsider? Issues of power and habitus during life history interviews with menopausal Iranian women

Menopause an important issue for women, esp with ageing populations.

Accessed participants through Koran classes – attended every day for 4 months.

This presentation about power relations within the interview, how it was created and shifted and how Bordieu’s ‘Capital’ helps this.

Both Elham and participants were women and Iranian, brought up in a culture where respect for elders is important (e.g. standing up when older person enters the room).


  • older, religious, some of them educated, some not.


  • younger, secular, educated, educated in the West

Some participants needed reassuring about relevance of their experience because educated. But another challenged her research because she’s too Western.

Elham is trained as a midwife – this is really important source of social capital. Studying in west is negative capital. Religious friends who introduced them is another source of capital.

The field was their religious class – class happened mostly in people’s homes. So their field. One’s husband sat in, she seemed to be using the interview to tell her husband how much she wanted to go back to work.

Changed her own dress to match interviewees.

Complaints balanced with ‘it’s not so bad’.

Takes requests from other members of group to be interviewed as sign that she wasn’t abusing them.

Was both insider and outsider during every interview.

Intersections of ageing, gender, sexualities (iages). University of Surrey

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 14:11

Another set of idiosyncratic liveblog notes from a conference. As ever, just the bits that interested me, not necessarily a representation of what the speaker said or meant. [My own thoughts in square brackets like this]

Keynote: Toni Calasanti, Virginia Tech

Intersections of age, gender and sexualities in partner caregiving

Preliminary work

Sociological approach to intersectionality = focus on social inequalities. ‘Master statuses’ get justified as natural, divine and/or rational.

Crenshaw: can’t see intersection of racism and gender by looking at them separately or additively. Not double jeopardy – more complex. E.g. being an old woman can reduce pressure of compulsory [hetero]sexuality.

Heterosexual couple caregiving – husbands and wives similar in motivations, amount and type of care provided. But different approaches. Husbands task-oriented, managerial – learning a trade of caring. Report little distress – difficulties in care work do not distract from self-identity as competent. Wives empathetic, emotional care as well as physical. Continuity with past caregiving identities. Hold themselves to higher standards, challenges self-competence when have difficulties. E.g. wives much more stressed at having to toilet their spouse than husbands.

Older lesbians and gay men caring for partners. Much research takes 50+ (for good reasons), but that’s not very helpful when looking at caregiving. [Not much noted as I know lots about this already]

[Strength from marriage vows for same-sex partners in future]


(cc) Magdalena

Session 1: Embodiment

Raffaella Ferrero Camoletto and Chiara Bertone, Uni of Turin

Questioning the sexy oldie: Intersecting masculinity, age and sexuality in the Viagra age

[Again not many notes as I’m quite on top of this literature. Gott, Marshall & Katz, Marshall, Calasanti & King]

Gott defn (5 components of sexy oldie)

Medicalisation of older sexuality, esp through Viagra

There is discursive space for alternatives to Viagra discourse.

Their study is of medical expert’s accounts of clinical practice in relation to later life course sexuality

In the light of 2010 European campaign ‘no more excuses – start loving again’

Age used to justify and delimit appropriate prescription, and to characterise patients as acting age appropriately or not. Use both discourses, the sexy oldie and the trad dirty old man/sugar daddy

Also prescribing to young men who understand as disoriented by media hypersexualisation and new aggressive female sexuality.

Reporting transgressive youngsters who were combining it with other drugs for sexual highs.

Age as a matter of moral timing [Nikander’s work]

Some medics resisting Viagra as making it impossible to age and leading to extra-marital affairs.

Idea of boycotting female partner who doesn’t want husband to have Viagra

Some views of sexuality as improving over the life course [at least until 50s, judging by her example. What after that?]

Ling-Fang Cheng, Taiwan

Liberated and/or constrained: Intimate relations of post-menopausal women in Taiwan

47% of menopausal women in Taiwan reported low sexual desire and painfulness due to vaginal atrophy. Her study suggests that poor relationships with husbands were the main problem. 35 in-depth interviews, diverse social classes and city/rural across Taiwan.

Historical context is feminism starting in 1980s and lifting of Martial Law 1987  – NGOs and women’s groups growth since then. 1st LGBTI parade 2005, same-sex marriage proposed but not yet passed.

Women in her study grew up with old values, but have lived through big changes in sexuality and gender relations. Found these different kinds of accounts:

  1. Vaginal monologue – all about the vagina (and pain)
  2. Hormones failed, Buddhism won
  3. Dancing as replacing sex. Takes hormones to keep herself looking young for dancing (not to have sex)
  4. New empowering relation with younger man
  5. New relationship with hugging, kissing, not intercourse. Reminds her of happy teen years.
  6. Feminist turn – being equal with husband, so took younger male partner, like husband’s mistresses
  7. Lesbian turn – sex much better. Children supported them.
  8. Lesbian ‘tom boy’ [sounds like stone butch] so her own bodily changes aren’t relevant
  9. Asexual? – takes great care of her body but never had partner (wheelchair-user). Asexual or autosexual? [depends what she says herself…]

Michelle Ong, Auckland/Philipines

Marks of success: Ageing Filipina migrants meaning-making around beauty

Migrants characterised in political discourse as ‘modern-day heros’ for contribution to economy

In main language of Philipines, Matanda = honorific for old person and adult

tanda = ‘mark’. Related to learn from experiences

Women’s stories about changes to their physical appearance – discursive/ political focus, not the individuals.

  1. Maintaining desirability in old age. Loss of attention from men
  2. Beauty work to avoid stigma and discrimination – hair dying. Planned to stop when retired. Esp important when working as a migrant and thus more vulnerable as a worker.
  3. It’s evidence of success in migration, of having had a good lifestyle in NZ. Written on the body. Friends from home look old because of their hard life. Lack of marks (worry lines, crows’ feet, wrinkles) [nice!]

Migration described as personal choice. Entails consumption. Achievement of beauty is hard work, but important.

Some resisting beauty-norms. Bodily marks as proof of wisdom, experience, having shared and loved.

Richard Green, Royal Holloway / Surrey

Life after prostate cancer: How older men manage the uncertainties of sexual dysfunction

Sociological theory around uncertainty (Zinn, 2008) how people manage experiential uncertainties (de Graff, adds time). Lit on men and health, drawing on hegemonic masculinities ( Connell) and ageing and masculinities.

29 men post prostrate cancer, some experienced sexual dysfunction (as is common).

Regretting loss of spontenaity because of need to pre-plan. Coping structure of having ‘a sort of appointment system’ ‘a steep learning curve’.

Accepting that it’s part of ageing – that thing about putting a pebble in a jar every time you have sex in first year of marriage.

Uncertainties about the effect of time – is it temporary or permanent change? What will further treatment do?

Normative notions of decline of sexuality in later life helped them to manage transition.

Still being a father, grandfather, other social roles important.

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