Academic journal article Generations

On Women, Feminism, and Age

Academic journal article Generations

On Women, Feminism, and Age

Article excerpt

The year 2017 ended with a series of explosive revelations about sexual violence and misogyny, with many women coming forward to tell their stories about serial sexual harassers in numerous sectors of society-a discomfiting yet empowering moment for women. But this revelatory wave, which seems as if it might continue ad infinitum, was not behind the planning for the Winter 2017-18 issue of Generations about women.

Instead, the impetus came from the Generations Editorial Advisory Board, and one member in particular, who brought up how long it had been since an issue of Generations focused on women (1980!). We're more than a little chagrined about our tardiness-but what an issue it is, coming in at 150 pages, and skillfully guest-edited by Martha B. Holstein, who has worked in the field of aging for more than forty-five years (twelve spent as associate director of the American Society on Aging).

ASA has a great appreciation for Holstein's commitment to the topic of aging women: not only does she have strong, historically rooted opinions on the state of old women today, and cogent (if occasionally acerbic) thoughts on ageism and its impacts upon women's daily lives, but she voices them with great passion and a fierce courage.

She also is a realist, continually (and modestly) stressing the role luck played in her packed career, including the timing of her entry into the field of gerontology in the early 1970s-a time coinciding with the launch of the second wave of feminism. She "fell into" her first job in the field just as the pace of change was picking up, Holstein says.

"A chance job for someone who had primarily studied early modern European history was the beginning of an entirely unexpected career that I now look back upon with great pleasure. I was able to work all those years without compromising my values by staying in the nonprofit and academic sectors, thereby meeting both my political and intellectual interests," says Holstein.

After her time at ASA, and stints at the Hastings Center and the California Council for the Humanities, Holstein completed a doctorate, then went to Chicago to work as a senior researcher at the Park Ridge Center for the Study of Health, Faith and Ethics. Subsequently, Holstein taught healthcare and ethics at Loyola University, then aging and health policy at the University of Chicago, eventually co-directing the Center on Long-Term Care Reform at the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group.

Holstein's background in history, research, and intellectualism validates her view of our current political and economic situation. "[As] the demonization of government and reduced public spending, union bashing, fiscal austerity, and deregulation override all other values, more and more women will spend their old age in unsafe and unsavory environments," Holstein says.

She accepts every invitation she receives to speak out about the experi'I ence of being old and a woman in today's society. …

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