The Other within Us: Feminist Explorations of Women and Aging

By Marilyn Pearsall | Go to book overview

5
OLDER WOMEN
IN THE CITY

Elizabeth W. Markson
Beth B. Hess

The particular vulnerabilities of women and the vicissitudes of aging 1 combine to isolate the older women. This situation, which urban settings often exacerbate, is our concern now. Because so many older women live in cities, often in great difficulty, our subject is hardly a trivial one. Despite this, and despite ruminations about the "graying of America," old women have received surprisingly little scholarly attention.

Until relatively recently, large numbers of old women in the city or elsewhere were scarce. In 1900 the average life expectancy at birth for white women was 48.7, for nonwhite women 33.5. However, in 1976, the average life expectancy at birth was 77.3 for white, 72.6 for nonwhite females. The proportion of women reaching age 65 has also changed dramatically. By 1973, 82.2 percent of all white and 68.1 percent of all nonwhite women could expect to reach age 65. Obviously changes in these mortality patterns have had marked effects on the demographic "shape" of our population as well as that of most other industrialized nations. In 1900, the ratio of women 65+ to men 65+ was only 98 to every 100. By 1970, this pattern had reversed to 138 women 65+ for every 100 men. By the year 2000, given current age adjusted mortality rates, there will be 154 women to every 100 men 65+.

A fiction persists that the majority of the old live in nonmetropolitan areas or in retirement communities. Yet 63.6 percent of all women 65+ and 60.5 percent of all men 65+ resided in metropolitan areas in the United States in 1978. The

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The Other within Us: Feminist Explorations of Women and Aging
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 16
  • Part One - Situating 17
  • 1 - The Double Standard of Aging 19
  • 2 - Portnoy's Mother's Complaints 25
  • 3 - The Plight of Older Black Women 37
  • References 41
  • 4 - The Feminization of Poverty Among the Elderly 43
  • Notes 54
  • 5 - Older Women in the City 57
  • Notes 68
  • Part Two - Problematizing 71
  • 6 Friends or Foes - Gerontological and Feminist Theory 73
  • Notes 91
  • References 91
  • 7 Heresy in the Female Body - The Rhetorics of Menopause 95
  • Notes 110
  • References 110
  • 8 Gender, Race, and Class - Beyond the Feminization of Poverty in Later Life 113
  • Notes 119
  • References 119
  • 9 - The View from Over the Hill 121
  • Notes 134
  • 10 - Adult Daughters and Care for the Elderly 135
  • Notes 146
  • 11 What Setting Limits May Mean - A Feminist Critique of Danielcallahan's Setting Limits 151
  • Notes 158
  • References 159
  • Part Three - Representing 161
  • 12 Sunset Boulevard - Fading Stars 163
  • Notes 175
  • 13 - Remembering Our Foremothers Older Black Women, Politics of Age, Politics of Survival as Embodied in the Novels of Toni Morrison 177
  • Notes 193
  • 14 Visible Difference - Women Artists and Aging 197
  • Notes 214
  • 15 - Time Will Tell 221
  • Part Four - Privileging 227
  • 16 - Toward Another Dimension . . . 229
  • 17 - Indian Summer 233
  • 18 - In the Heat of Shadow 239
  • 19 - Mirror of Strength Portrait of Two Chilean Arpilleristas 243
  • 20 - The Space Crone 249
  • 21 - Serenity and Power 253
  • Notes 273
  • Credits 275
  • About the Book and Editor 277
  • About the Contributors 279
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