Gender: implications of a contested area

Authored by: Jeff Hearn , Sharon Wray

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Gerontology

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  June  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415631143
eBook ISBN: 9780203097090
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221033


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Gender is a contested area. There is no single or simple definition. When ‘gender’ is considered in cultural gerontology, it is common to focus on ‘women,’ ‘men and women’ or ‘relations between them.’ Much research uses this two-gender model to examine gender differences. However, gender is just as relevant in relations between women, and between men, with hierarchies within genders, relations of gender, sex and sexuality, and intersections of genders and other social divisions. To state the obvious, older men are just as gendered as older women. As gender relations have become more recognized within cultural gerontology and its engagements with feminist theory, the very notion of gender itself has become more problematized. In reviewing what has now become a rather large field within cultural gerontology, we outline five broad formulations of theorizing around gender: gender based on sex; masculinity/femininity and sex roles; gender categoricalism, gender structures, and structurally contextualized practices; poststructuralist, discursive and deconstructive approaches; and the material-discursive. Though contrasting, these positions overlap and intersect, as do their implications for cultural gerontology.

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