The Other within Us: Feminist Explorations of Women and Aging

By Marilyn Pearsall | Go to book overview

To change the meanings and norms of "woman," to include the rambling and unfettered spaces of the female flesh, to allow for female lifelong dignity and power, and to honor the increasing wisdom of older women with political access -- and all of this regardless of race or class -- would significantly alter the landscapes of our body politic. This requires radical changes in the meanings of menopause and a complete deconstruction of "the monolithic menopausal body" and the negativity of "the menopausal corridor." To deconstruct the meanings of menopause in a male gerontocracy is to construct a social and cultural space for the empowerment of crones. The matter of words in this political project is indeed part of all the matter needed for this rearrangement of flesh and meaning. My hope is that more powerful and unruly women will emerge from this conceiving -- old, wise, and furiously heretical.


Notes
1.
After completing this essay, I had an opportunity to read Geri Dickson's "Metaphors of Menopause: The Metalanguage of Menopause Research." I was pleased to find that our approaches to the bio-cultural aspects of menopause are very similar. However, my insistence on a feminist approach, which I do not see as ontologically essentialist as Dickson does, marks our difference. I concur with Diana Fuss, who argued that it is possible to use essentialist language for pragmatic and political ends or for strategic and interventionary values without becoming reactionary or metaphysically overloaded. Unlike Dickson, I shy away from the postmodernism of Lyotard because of a need to stay close to a materialist analysis of the social relations between the sexes. For my in-progress critiques of postmodernism, see Zita ( 1988 and 1992).

References

Bart, P. B. 1972. "Depression in Middle Aged Women". Women in Sexist Society. Ed. V. Gornick and B. K. Moran. New York: New American Library, 163-86.

Beyene, Yewoubdar. 1986. "Cultural Significance and Physiological Manifestations of Menopause: A Biocultural Analysis". Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 10:46-71.

Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routtedge.

Clay, Vidal. 1977. Women: Menopause and Middle Age. Pittsburgh: KNOW.

Cohen, L. 1984. Small Expectations: Society's Betrayal of Older Women. Toronto: McClellan and Stewart.

Copper, Baba. 1988. Over the Hill. New York: Crossing.

Davis, Dona Lee. 1986. "The Meaning of Menopause in a Newfoundland Fishing Village". Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 10:73-94.

Dickson, Geri. 1990. "The Metalanguage of Menopause Research". IMAGE: Journal of Nursing Scholarship 22.3:168-73.

_____. 1993. "Metaphors of Menopause: The Metalanguage of Menopause Research". Menopause: A Midlife Passage. Ed. J. C. Callahan. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 36-58.

Doress, E, and D. Siegal. 1987. Ourselves Growing Older. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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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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