Remembering My Hat

6th July 2015

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.


1 Comment »

  1. […] liveblog notes from a conference. See here for first part and […]

    Pingback by iages conference: Part 2 | Remembering My Hat — 6th July 2015 @ 18:07 | Reply

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