Remembering My Hat

25th November 2016

Reproduction, Sexuality and Sexual Health research group symposium

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The Open University, Camden, London

My usual partial and incomplete liveblog from a seminar, focusing only on things I was particularly interested in, rather than a representation of what people actually said. Also, I forgot my laptop charger, so I’ve only got two hours of battery so I’ll probably not get to the afternoon sessions at all. You can see the whole programme here. [My own thoughts in square brackets like this].

Introduction to the conference: Alison Hadley, Univ of Bedfordshire

Entitlement to sexual health services services, although paid lip-service, isn’t enough to get services funded and commissioned – you have to demonstrate that there is a problem. And this then leads to services focussing on negative outcomes (avoiding teenage pregnancy, reducing STIs) and the only things that get counted are negative outcomes. Services don’t usually count positive outcomes (increased knowledge about sexual health, increased pleasure). We need measures and metrics for positive outcomes too.

Having the right targets is key – you should never have a target of X% uptake of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) because that runs counter to the principle of choice.

Safeguarding has become the over-arching lens through which everything to do with young people’s sexuality is read. This distorts other important issues (pleasure, development, intimacy).

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(cc) velo_city

Panel 1: Pleasure and intimacy

Ann Furedi, CEO of BPAS

Birth control, pleasure and intimacy: a matter of personal choice or public health?

Gone back to using the old-fashioned term ‘birth control’ because it covers both contraception and abortion and her sense is that young people increasingly see them as ends of a continuum. A less-effective contraception method with abortion as a back-up plan may be what people want, rather than LARCs.

If you frame it as women’s choice to have as few children as they want, or even, increasingly to have no children at all, you generally get quite a sympathetic response in the UK these days. But if you start talking about women’s choice to have as many children as they want, people start judging you – environmenal reasons about over-population are increasingly invoked for everyone [as well as older classist/racist ones] Marie Stopes racism and classism

Free contraception on the NHS is bound up on it being seen as a health issue. If you make it about women’s autonomy, does this become about risk?

Family ‘planning’ – but of course ‘unplanned’ doesn’t equate to ‘unwanted’.

Every service they have has an imposed target for LARC uptake from women who have had an abortion. What women want is entirely different. They are concerned about effectiveness but they are equally concerned about lack of side-effects (‘your erratic bleeding will settle down after about a year’ is not acceptable, especially to young people).

Me: Positive visions of queer ageing and sexual relationships

[A talk about my Imagining Bi Futures project, focusing on the positive visions].

Peter Keogh, Open University: Pleasure and intimacy in HIV research

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(cc) Jo

First job in sexual health 25 years ago was ethnographic project on gay men and public sex – mostly about cottaging and cruising. Project was framed as ‘what is this weird behaviour, how can we stop it?’ No consideration that it might be fun. Pathologising framing of it as about sexual compulsivity and the ‘bisexual bridge’.

Trying to find out ‘who are the people who are really driving this epidemic’. Over the years, the groups that are thought to be driving the epidemic have changed, but the focus on identifying the problematic group has remained the same.

Folk devil 1 was cottagers

Folk devil 2: By about 1994 Backroom and super-saunas (as they opened up in London, especially). Focus on venues for sex, and whether some were more risky than others.

Folk devil 3: Internet users! For hook-ups.’Meaningless virtual sex’. Would lead to huge increase in number of sexual partners and somehow not ‘real’ sex – re-emergence of compulsivity and addiction framing.

Folk devil 4: Early 2000s onwards. Barebackers, bugchasers, seeders etc. Barebacking becoming an identity.

Folk devil 5: Sero-sorters (having sex only with people of the same HIV-status as yourself). This one comes from researchers – as an explanation of barebacking – it’s not reckless after all. But also taken up by communities as well as a way of promoting safer sex. But researcher’s then got worried about people acting on less than full knowledge ‘sero-guessing’ as a risk.

Folk devil 6: Now. Truvada whores – pre-exposure prophylactics –

Folk devil 7: Now. Chem sex

Two overall tendencies in all these stages

Pathologising – reckless, compulsive, in deinal, deluded, promiscuous

v. Rationalising – risk-taking, inventive, calculating, liberal, transcending social differences, sexually open

Can we move away from the latest hot topic and think more widely about the ways HIV has transformed sex for men, now that we are late in this epidemic?

Claire de Than, City University: Supporting the human right to have fun

Disabled people’s right to sex is being routinely denied by families and care homes [see the OU’s Sexuality Alliance for lots more resources on this especially in relation to people with life-limiting conditions].

Current plans for compulsory sex education for children explicitly exclude disabled people.

Cannot legally give sex education to deafblind adults (although can to deafblind children!)

Her summary:

Adult? Non-carer (of anyone in the room)? Can communicate (in whatever way)? Consenting? Has capacity? Private? All these present, it’s a human right to have sex. Anything missing? Possibly criminal, so check and work through the guidance.

Helping or supporting someone to do something that is their own choice (if they have capacity) is not a crime.

Biggest reasons needed changes haven’t  gone through in care services is the Daily Mail fear factor.

People think they have duty to protect vulnerable people from risk. But they don’t, they have a duty to protect them from known, real and immediate risk to life or safety. Most consensual sex doesn’t have these kinds of risks.

[Battery perilously low at the end of the morning, so no more from this].

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3rd August 2016

EuroBiReCon16: Workshop on ageing

This is some notes from a workshop that I co-organised with Sue George and Nickie Roome, as promised to the participants. Our abstract said:

Growing older and being bisexual

What is it like to grow older as a bisexual person? What issues and needs are likely to become more important? How can bisexual and LGBTQ communities be more inclusive of older people? How can research best serve the needs of older bisexual people? This open discussion session will discuss these and other questions related to bisexual ageing. People of all ages are welcome to attend but those who feel these questions have personal relevance are especially welcome. The facilitators of this session are: Sue George, long-time bisexual activist and author of Women and Bisexuality, Nickie Roome, founder of the UK’s first group for older bisexual people and Rebecca Jones who researches and campaigns around ageing and bisexuality.

 

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(cc) photoscarce

It was great to have a room full of people all wanting to discuss ageing – about 25 people in total, I think. We started off with some introductions from Sue, Nickie and me, about why we had wanted to run this workshop. Then we generated some possible topics to discuss and each person voted for their favourite. There were two topics that only one person wanted to talk about (‘being ‘younger’ older’ and ‘working with existing organisations for older people’) so those people chose a second topic. This left us with four topics:

  • Making bi space more age-inclusive
  • Identity and history
  • Sexuality, sex and ageing
  • Inter-generational issues

I took some brief notes while listening in on the groups, and also as each group fed back to the whole group. But if anyone who was in one of the groups would like to add more detail so we have a better record, that would be great – just let me know.

Making bi space more age-inclusive: This group talked about recognising the resources that older bisexual people can offer to bisexual communities and individuals. These resources include both personal experience gained through having lived a relatively long time and also, sometimes, long experience of activism and organising community events. This group also talked about the importance of recognising and acknowledging different choices of identity labels.

Identity and history: This group talked about painful personal experiences of their bisexuality not being accepted by others. They commented that it seemed to be very different for (some) young women now, with ‘bi-curious’ and similar identities seeming to be much more common. They noted that this new acceptability of female bisexuality is often very sexist and thought that we would really know that bisexuality had become acceptable once more men felt able to claim it.

Sexuality, sex and ageing: This group discussed the invisibility and taboos around later life sexuality and sexual activity. They felt that this did harm to both ageing individuals and to younger people and communities more widely. They also talked about significant age differences between partners seeming to become more taboo in later adult life, and about the possibility of intimacy becoming more important than sex for some people. They also discussed coming out in later life, dating apps and the impact of parenting on sexuality.

Inter-generational issues: This group started off by discussing some hurtful personal experiences of being excluded from an LGBT group on the grounds of age, because older bisexual men were seen as sexually predatory. It then went on to talk about experiences of ageism in both directions – from older people towards younger as well as vice versa. The group talked about the way in which someone’s ‘length of being out’ age may not match their chronological age. It suggested running workshops on inter-generational issues at future BiCons and other bi gatherings.

 

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“Sunset over Amsterdam” (cc) by Peter Eijkman

28th January 2015

Older LGB&T people: Minding the Knowledge Gaps. Final conference.

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My usual partial and erratic liveblog-ish notes from a seminar. Not a complete record of what’s going on – just the things that interest me [and my own responses in brackets].

Liz Barker: How far we’ve come: Older LGBT rights movement[s?]

Greengross & Greengross (1989)  ‘Living, Loving and Ageing’ called by Daily Mirror a ‘raunchy sex guide for older people’ [Fantastic! It’s just not! I’ve got half a paper written comparing LL&A with modern sex guides for older people. Maybe I should revisit that…] A really important start to awareness about older people’s sexuality in the UK [although academically the interest in older people and sexuality starts earlier with (I think) the Starr-Weiner report]

HIV&AIDS as a catalyst for work around OP’s sexual health, and older LGBT people [as so often – such a mixed blessing – raises awareness of the existence of a group, but in a context where it’s a problem. Like the history of public awareness of bisexuality]

Polari did first research  on LGBT older people (initially on housing options) [again, not sure this is true if you include academic research. When was ‘Gay and Grey’?]

Spark to (then) Age Concern Opening Doors programme was an older gay man who was a carer who was told council couldn’t help him with his partner because his set up wasn’t ‘normal’.

Opening Door report and first seminar in 2001 [I was there. It was great].

Opening Doors didn’t originally include T because they didn’t want to assume issues were the same and their sample was very small and opportunistic [no explanation given for why they didn’t include B. I’m pretty sure the first report was originally called ‘Working with older lesbians and gay men’ which does not include older bi people. I think it later got rebadged as ‘l, g and b’].

Round up of past seminars (various speakers)

1st seminar on bi ageing – made a nice change to be first seminar in a series, given usual erasure of bisexuality within LGBT acronym.

Being told you are too old to be bisexual – that you ought to have made up your mind by now

Intergenerational work with LGBT really adds to diversity and complexity of labels and experiences people have.

Being BME and LGBT can increase visiblity in unhelpful ways (with migration status sometimes as another intersection) – research on Irish Gay men working in England.

Venn diagram – three overlapping circles, older, LGBTQ and BME – that gives you overlaps of older and LGBTQ, LGBTQ and BME and older and BME, with the overlap in the middle of older, BME and LGBTQ. Middle group is relatively small and but can extrapolate from other overlaps (e.g research on LGBT and BME experiences or on older BME people’s experiences). Lack of visible older BME LGBT people is also a problem for younger people who need elders and role models. [Importance of being able to imagine your own ageing].

How and in what circumstances do older LGBT people wish to be visible to H&SC services? [Not always].

Need for staff to know about LGBT history, so they can understand possible fears and reticences.

Shd the focus be on specialist provision or enhancing pracice across the sector? [Both! But if I had to pick one, I think it would be the second]

24th April 2014

BSA 2014, Leeds (Part 3): Sexuality

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You know the form

 

Katy Pilcher, Aston

Subverting heteronormativity in a lesbian erotic dance venue?

Erotic dance is v contested area in feminist debate – classic sex positive v. sex negative case. But this binary is itself problematic

Can the heteronormative gaze be subverted?

Power is always still operating

Using Jackson and Scott’s defn that ‘what makes an act, a desire or a relationship sexual is a matter of social definition: the meanings invested in it’ (2010:84) so erotic dance is not inherently erotic, it’s the meanings people ascribe to it that make it so.

Club she studied (‘Lippy’) was a product of 1980s lesbian sex wars – predecesor version ‘The Cage’ was SM and seen by some participants as more radical and more queer than Lippy.

Founder of Lippy felt that The Cage had paved the way for the more moderate Lippy [classic discursive relationship between the more extreme and the more moderate]

Dancers dressed in quite traditional normative gendered ways, including one as 1950s housewife – the archetpe of trad gender!

But could say that they are displaying the performativity of gender (vide Butler) and making femme queer identities visible independently, not just when in contrast with a butch partner.

In one act, one dancer dresses as a man but with trad female lingerie underneath – not a drag king, something more complex than that.

Valued as a women’s space. But this is policed – fat and hairy/trans women not acceptable to all.

Massey – spaces as made and remade – so not inherently inclusive space because women-only, made so (or not).

One dancer couldn’t get work in straight clubs because too heavily tatood – suggests Lippy was a queerer space, because was acceptable here.

But women punters not taken seriously as customers by club employees, seen as sexually fairly passive and less sexual than men.

Dancers go up to punters and touch them, unlike in male strip clubs. Hugging – quite a reciprocal gesture.

Some evidence of punters taking up more hegemonic masculine subject-positions, like approaching dancers outside the club and asking for a kiss.

 

Stevi Jackson, York (and Sue Scott)

Towards a practice theoretic approach to sexuality

They have previously used sexual scripts theory. Gagnon and Simon’s levels of scripting – cultural scenarios (like discourses), interpersonal scripting (through interactions with others, sexual partners and also other) and intrapsychic scripting (reflexive stuff, conversations with yourself). All three inter-relate. Not deterministic. You improvise around the scripts.

But this can be seen as too cognitive. Based on active meaning making and reflexive practice. Jackson and Scott 2007 and 2010 trying to move beyond this by looking at embodied sexual conduct e.g. orgasm  – not just a physiological process but a social one

Drawing on Becker 1963 on learning to feel appropriately (becoming a marijuana user). Useful to think about in relation to sex – becoming a competent sexual actor. But doesn’t explain variety and complexity of sexual practices well [why not?]. Scripting solves this in part, because of way it look at agentic individuals, interactional situation and surrounding socioculral context. But not well theorised how this turns in to practices.

Turn to practice in Sociology since about 2000. Especially strong in sociology of consumption, building on Bordieu. Not much theorisation of practice in sexuality. Idea is used in sociology of families (Morgan, Finch, Jamieson) i.e. displaying family through practices.

Is sex a practice? It has defining features, although historically and culturally variable and although could be more than currently is. It is generally recognizable as an event – period of activity, involving sexual arousal [does this apply to all BDSM activities? I’m not sure it does. Although it could get quite circular about what you define as sexual arousal]. There are shared understandings, standards, advice on how to do it better.

Danger of defining sex as a practice could be that it seems to move away from the sociological, to focusing more on habits and routines. But these are rooted in biography and social context, so this isn’t really a problem.

 

BSA 2014, Leeds (Part 2): Veganism + teaching LGBT+ in HSC

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More erratic and partial notes from a conference. Part 1 here. My own thoughts in square brackets. No pretty pictures, I’m afraid, due to aforementioned technical problems.

 

Symposium on Veganism

Kate Stewart, Nottingham

Health benefits of eating more fruit and veg seem clear. 5-a-day and so on campaigns (now 8-a-day)

But doesn’t necessarily follow that vegans are healthier. Study of German vegans showed participants ate equivalent of 18 a day! And better health.

Analysis of four prominent health-advice websites (NHS choices, Change for Life etc.) and what they said about veganism.

Focus on health risks of plant-based diets. Don’t report benefits. Focus on adding fruit and veg to existing diet, not radically changing diet or basing dishes on vegetables.

Plant-based diets are constructed as marginal in advice literature

 

Richard Twine, IoE

Negotating relationships in transition to veganism

Practice Theory [looks v interesting] about not overstating the rational and intentional, looking at what people do and ways to change what people do.

Changes through recrafting practicing, substituting practices

[A really interesting paper – too tired at this stage to make proper notes except to remind myself to follow this one up]

 

All the presenters in this symposium had lots of experiences of very hostile responses to doing research on veganism – accusations of being partial, unobjective, unbalanced, including difficulty getting through ethics committees on these grounds [I never get any trouble with  this in relation to doing research on LGBT issues, including LGBT ageing. Is this because these days it’s perfectly respectable to research LGBT stuff, but that’s not (yet?) the case for veganism? It would be really interesting to do a sort of historical analysis of what ethics cttees reject (although they haven’t existed for that long). What is seen as risky / problematic / dangerous research  over time]

 

Zowie Davy, Lincoln

Freire’s pedagogy – 2 way, problem-focused, master / slave relationships (pedagogue /student). Need to co-create knowledge.

‘Limit situations’

Looking at teaching of LGBTQI issues to medial, health and social care students  in 5 universities in one are of UK

When there is teaching on LGBTQI issues, it’s not integrated into general topics, but ‘special topics’.

[I want to think about this properly in relation to K118, where we have got some bits of teaching on LGBT issues, I’m very pleased to say]

 

 

10th April 2014

Quick wins for bisexual inclusion

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Bisexuality is often erased as a legitimate sexual identity. There’s an example of that happening here, when I last felt moved to blog about this. This time, I thought I’d try to do something more positive in response.
I’m going to assume here that people do want to include bisexual people when they are talking about ‘LGB people’ or ‘LGB&T people’. I’m going to assume that when they fail to do so, it’s a slip-of-the-tongue, a habit that they want to change. So here are some suggestions for rewordings for common slips-of-the-tongue and the pen.

Although I’m focussing specifically on bi inclusion here, I’ve tried to be trans*-inclusive within this focus, but would especially welcome corrections or additions to this. I’m not trying to cover ‘quick wins for trans* inclusion’ here, but I am trying to ensure that what I am suggesting about bi inclusion is not trans*-exclusive. And of course other suggestions and comments on anything here are very welcome. What have I missed? Do you agree? What other quick wins might there be?

Don’t describe someone as ‘gay’ just because they have a same-sex partner

… because many bisexual people have same-sex partners and don’t describe themselves as ‘gay’. Use the words people use to describe themselves.

This applies to public figures too – Oscar Wilde, Lord Byron, Tom Daley and whoever the latest male politician or sportsman is to have hit the media for having a male lover. Obviously, if they do now describe themselves as gay, then so should you. But if they don’t, then don’t. You could describe them as bisexual or as being attracted to more than one gender or just talk about what has happened without using sexual identity labels. But, best of all, use whatever words they use to describe themselves.

Don’t say ‘gay and straight relationships’ or ‘same-sex and heterosexual relationships’

… because that excludes people in bisexual relationships. Depending on what you actually mean, try ‘all types of relationships’  or ‘LGB and heterosexual’ or, to some audiences, ‘queer and straight’. You might try ‘same-sex and different-sex relationships’, if that’s the distinction you’re really interested in, but that isn’t very trans*-inclusive, because it implies that two people are either the same or different sexes, and sex can be more complicated than that.

Bisexual people in different-sex relationships are not ‘in a heterosexual relationship’ because they are not heterosexual. A heterosexual relationship is something that heterosexual people have. Well, subject to the point above about using people’s own terminology – if bisexual people in a different-sex relationship do want to describe their relationship as heterosexual, then of course they can, but don’t impose that label on them.

Don’t use ‘gay’ as a shorthand for LGB or LGB&T

… because most bisexual people don’t think of themselves as gay – if you say ‘gay’ they feel excluded. ‘Gay’ as a shorthand to include trans* people really doesn’t work well. And some lesbians really don’t like it either. In more formal writing, such as policy reports and research findings, it’s easy enough to avoid using ‘gay’ in this way  – just use LGB or LGB&T or LGBTIQQA or any other such acronym that is appropriate to your context. In speech and some types of media it can be harder to find replacements for ‘gay’ as a shorthand. ‘Queer’ works in some contexts. ‘Non-heterosexual’ works in others.

Don’t forget biphobia (and transphobia)

… because while bisexual people may experience homophobia, they also experience biphobia too. Try ‘homophobia and biphobia’ or ‘homophobia, biphobia and transphobia’. Or, depending on the context, ‘hate crimes against LGBT people’.

There’s more discussion of biphobia and how it differs from homophobia here.

Don’t say you talked to ‘LGB&T people’ if you only talked to lesbians and gay men

… because that suggests that LGB&T people really means lesbians and gay men. Say ‘lesbians and gay men’ if that is who you talked to.

If you had hoped to talk to B and T people as well, but not managed to do so in the end, you could say that. But the fact that you know that there is more to LGB&T than L and G doesn’t make it legitimate to generalise from L and G to LGB&T.

Don’t always subdivide your group of LGB people by gender (e.g. ‘lesbians and bisexual women’ versus ‘gay and bisexual men’)

… because that erases bisexuality by making it sound as if gender is always the most the important difference between LG and B people. Try looking at the bisexual women and bisexual men together as one category. Or see whether some other subdivision, such as race/ethnicity, age or social class is more important.

 

22nd October 2013

(a)Dressing the Ageing Demographic seminar: Part 1

Last Friday I went to a seminar at the Royal College of Art about clothes and growing older. It was fantastic. Really stimulating and interesting, and even more fun that usual in the coffee breaks noticing what everyone was wearing! I met up with some people I already knew and am always glad to see and also got to know some new ones, including the journalist who writes the Guardian’s Invisible Woman blog about clothing, body image and getting older. I also admired a very beautiful and stylish older women and said to someone else that I aspired to look like her in 40 years time. Then I discovered she was, in fact, a model (and still working as such, I think) and decided that was probably an unrealistic hope.

What follows is my usual idiosyncratic and incomplete notes from the day, with my own additional thoughts in square brackets.

(cc) Brian J Matis

Julia Twigg

Fashion and Age: Dres, the Body and Later Life

There’s a persistent normative age ordering of clothes, especially for women. Largely expressed negatively – what is not suitable for someone as they grow older

–        More covered up, higher necks, longer skirts, looser cut

–        Darker, duller colours

–        Sober self-effacing, avoiding claims to sexual attention

Can see this in those Scandinavian life stage pictures, as well as nowadays.

But these cultural factors are also in interplay with changes in the body

SizeUK did a literal ‘shape of the nation’ survey. New shape much more realistic for older women. Used by some retailers.

JT drawing on Barnard on ways gender and class are seen as natural but actually ideological, to theorise dress as also ideological.

There’s a dominant cultural narrative that this age ordering is gone or is going or has lessened. ‘60 is the new 40’. In academia sometimes called the reconstitution of ageing thesis. Older people argued to now be nearer the mainstream than they used to be. New pattern of the life course – extended mid-life up to 4th Age. More undifferentiated middle years.

Showed that Posy Simmons cartoon of ‘A lifetime of babywear: The Seven Ages of Man’ – wearing teeshirt and shorts at all life stages.

Making the point that men’s clothes don’t change across the lifecourse. But you can also see in the cartoon the way that clothes are tweaked by clothes designers to make the same garment age-appropriate – elasticated waists at youngest and oldest ages, not in mid-life

So does age ordering still operate?

Women in JT’s study were aware of age ordering and largely obeyed it – stressed need for caution, avoiding exposing body, over young or girly styles, frilly clothes, anything eye-catching.

‘The wardrobe moment’ when women feel they can no longer wear a particular thing [I had one of those when I was coming up to 40. Not so much since but that could be because I’ve adapted my wardrobe in accordance with age orderings?]

Sense of exile from cultural practices of feminity, or feminity itself

But also evidence of change. Felt wore very different clothes from their mothers. Keen to avoid drab, chintz and crimplene especially!

Clothing retailers also believe things have changed. Asda – 30 yrs ago people would switch to ‘classic’ clothing at a life point, no more. Older women now wear brighter, fresher colours. Ranges for older women marked by use of strong clear colours. E.g. celebs like Mary Berry

Larger retail context to this – arrival of cheap Fast Fashion – late 20th and 21st C. True democratisation of fashion – greater than 19th C or mid 20th C one, arguably. People shop more often – over 75s now shop for clothes as often as teens and twenties in e. 1960s. Clothes are cheaper, still remain accessible if on lowish income in later life.

‘Moving Younger’. Clothes as aspirational – dream of idealised self, younger, thinner, richer, smarter. Consumption of clothes allows this. So retailers persistently portray their clothes as aimed at a younger market than they know their customers actually are.

Style diffusion. Youth has replaced class as the engine for style diffusion. No longer introduced by elites and then abandoned by them as taken up by lower classes. Not so much that older people are dressing younger, but that styles are diffusing older – centre of fashionability is youth, edges is older.

Age norms and age ordering still exist. Continue to encode ageist meanings

But also clear evidence for change – norms are shifting. Fashion industry is playing a part in this shift.

Discussion:

These covered up styles for older women is because of stigmatisation and fear of older bodies

Rise of ‘shapewear’ – new forms of corsetry. Can now get it extending to arms!

JT: one respondent felt could do longer wear girly styles she liked, but always wore coloured, girly underwear as form of secret resistance.

23rd August 2012

NATSAL and older people

One of the difficulties of writing about sex in later life from a UK perspective is the lack of systematic, population-level data. In particular, older people have been excluded, to a greater or lesser extent, from the three existing waves of the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL)

This is one of those background facts that I keep using whenever I’m writing about later life sex, but I always find it difficult to check out exactly which waves had which age limits. So I am going to collect it here, for my own future reference, and in case it is useful for anyone else.

(cc) Peter Kaminski

NATSAL I was carried out in 1990. It sampled people aged 16-59

NATSAL II was carried out in 2000. It sampled people aged 16-44  ‘in order to focus survey resources on a group at greater risk‘ though how you know who is at greatest risk if you haven’t surveyed anyone over 60 to start with, I don’t know…

NATSAL III is being carried out between 2008 and 2013.  It will sample people aged 16-74. Two cheers.

I hope there is a NATSAL IV. I’m not a statistician or a survey-expert, so I realise there may be technical reasons why you need to put an upper age limit, to do, I imagine, with getting enough respondents for the findings to be generalisable. But surely there must be ways round that? The danger of putting an upper age limit is that is suggests that sex is not something of relevance to older people.

12th July 2012

British Society of Gerontology conference 2012: Part 1

Here are some more personal notes from a conference. As ever, they are in no sense a representation of everything that was said, just some of the things that struck me as interesting or connected with my own work. Things that are my thoughts rather than what other people said are in square brackets. The conference is the:

British Society of Gerontology

41st Annual Conference

University of Keele

10th-12th July 2012 

The conference got off to a great start for me when my fellow-CABS member, ex-colleague, ex-PhD supervisor and, I hope I do not presume too much to say, friend, Bill Bytheway was presented with the BSG’s Outstanding Achievement Award for his contribution to British gerontology. I’ve written more about that over here on the CABS blog. But it made a very happy start to the conference for me.

More note form from now on:

Opening Plenary

Prof Toni Calasanti

Virginia Tech, USA

Different or unequal? Considering power relations

Existing critiques of ‘successful’ ageing [Katz, Minkler and Holstein, all the stuff I wrote about in K319 LG2 final section] . What happens if you put these critiques together with gender analysis?

Sexualised vulnerable older women in Life Alert ads (call buttons)

Youth based standards of sex. Seeking to show OP have sex too or something ‘just as good’ e.g. non-PIV but still sex. This retains insidious ageism.

Why not see elders’ sex as more valuable? Link w reproduction is broken anyway. More sensual? More pleasure-seeking?

Let old people be old and that be valuable.

Chris Gilleard

Sex in later life: From sex to salvation

Non-sexual nature of later life used to be morally virtuous, because sex was sinful. So a virtuous old age was non-sexual. Inversion of nowadays.

Sexual activity as cause of ageing – using up moisture and heat. Hippocratic theory of humours. Sex is hot and wet (blood and air), ageing is dry and cold (black bile and earth). Continuing influence into the medieval period and up to 17th C

Then 17th C onwards, sex less sinful and less harmful

Harvey’s circulation of blood shows that blood is not used up but continuously circulated so impacts on ideas of sex in old age.

But old ideas continued anyway.

18th C physiology developed, awareness of glands – realisation that sexual activity can be separated from reproduction and that sexual fluids do things other than aid reproduction.

19th C increased regulation of sex. But age related decline in sexual function is noted but not mandated

Lots of interest at turn of twentieth century and early twentieth C in prolonging youth through organotherapy, rejuvenation techniques [like now anti-ageing medicine]

Audience member: presentation blind to gender – it was all about men

CG: could have talked about extract of ova for women in 20th C but before that it was all focused on men.

Ann O’Hanlon

Dundalk, Ireland

Exploring and measuring age-friendliness amongst older people.

Age friendly communities. Dundalk was one of the 35 cities and towns in the 2004 WHO study

Discussion: Ann O’Hanlon’s question: why hasn’t the older people’s movement taken off in the way that feminism did?

Me: because it’s not grass-roots.

Audience member: because of internalised ageism

[I thought: but feminism was partly about excavating internalised sexism through consciousness raising – OP could do that]

Audience member: Group of 50 older feminists, met recently to apply CR techniques to own internalised ageism. But what they are focusing on is supporting one another, not changing the world. Is this something to do with ageing [No! Not if, by that, you mean something inherent to the ageing process]

[Should the question actually be ‘why did the feminist movement succeed (in some ways though obviously not all), when black rights did less well (although don’t forget end of segregation in US), class struggle died with Thatcher / the end of communism in Europe, and other social movements never got off the ground?

What happened to the grey panthers?

There are, at least, activist groups of disabled people.

It is just because the historical moment when movements around identities could make significant impact has passed, because we’ve all (some of us) got so post-modern and fractured in our identities?]

Cassandra Phoenix

Pennisula College

Research design: Attend people’s usual exercise session, take a photo, download to iPad, immediately discuss pictures during interview.

This design proved impractical – turned into too much discussion of the quality of the photos + post exercising participants didn’t want to be interviewed – tired!

So instead researchers selected 8-10 photos and emailed them – look at photos, answer question ‘what is it like to [insert sport]’ then some more prompting questions, including  prompted them to talk about five senses. So got written data in the end.

People didn’t comment on the images very much – tended to do so at end. Whereas researchers intended it to be photo-elicitation. Did caption some photos – doesn’t seem very phenomenological. But actually quite telling, like small stories in identity construction. Captions often about the body rather than life through the body

Some people made references to the pictures in their writing.

Q ‘what it is like to’ was understood as ‘why do you like?’

5th July 2012

Another list of resources: Bisexuality and ageing

Here’s another one I prepared earlier (actually, just now). It’s a handout for the talk I’m giving at the British Society of Gerontology conference at Keele University next week. I’m part of a double symposium on LGBT ageing and I’m talking under the title ‘The disappearing B in LGBT ageing’. I’m not only going to talk about that – for those of you who were at the Critical Sexology Up North seminar in Huddersfield a couple of weeks ago, this paper covers the same kind of ground as that one, but tweaked a little, so this list might also be of interest.

Further reading on bisexuality and ageing

On what is distinctive about bisexuality:

Barker, M., Richards, C., Jones, R., Bowes-Catton, H., Plowman, T., Yockney, J., et al. (2012). The bisexuality report: Bisexual inclusion in LGBT equality and diversity: The Open University.

Available here: http://bisexualresearch.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/the-bisexualityreport.pdf and elsewhere – just google it.

Guidelines on researching and writing about bisexuality

The guidelines: http://bisexualresearch.wordpress.com/reports-guidance/guidance/research-guidelines/

Accompanying article:

Barker, M., Yockney, J., Richards, C., Jones, R. L., Bowes-Catton, H., & Plowman, T. (in press, 2012). Guidelines for Researching and Writing about Bisexuality. Journal of Bisexuality, 12.

Empirical studies of bisexuality and ageing

WEINBERG, M. S., WILLIAMS, C. J. & PRYOR, D. W. (2001) Bisexuals at  midlife: Commitment, salience and identity. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 30, 180-208.

JONES, R. L. (2012) Imagining the unimaginable: Bisexual roadmaps for ageing. IN WARD, R., RIVERS, I. & SUTHERLAND, M. (Eds.) Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ageing: Providing effective support through understanding life stories. London, Jessica Kingsley.

JONES, R. L. (2011) Imagining bisexual futures: Positive, non-normative later life Journal of Bisexuality, 11, 245-270.

Speculative literature

(Not empirically-based but suggestions based on evidence about ageing lesbians and gay men and younger bisexual people)

DWORKIN, S. H. (2006) Aging bisexual: The invisible of the invisble minority. IN KIMMEL, D., ROSE, T. & DAVID, S. (Eds.) Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender aging: Research and clinical perspectives. New York,ColumbiaUniversity Press.

FIRESTEIN, B. (Ed.) (2007) Becoming visible: Counseling bisexuals across the lifespan, New York, Columbia University Press.

KEPPEL, B. (2006) Affirmative psychotherapy with older bisexual women and men. Journal of Bisexuality, 6, 85-104.

For ‘Muriel’ case study and general discussion of the disappearing bisexual:

Jones, R. L. (2010). Troubles with bisexuality in health and social care. In R. L. Jones & R. Ward (Eds.), LGBT issues: Looking beyond categories (pp. 42-55).Edinburgh:Dunedin Academic Press.

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