Feminist women who were part of the second wave of the women's movement in the 1970s bequeathed to us a powerful personal and political critique of our society's obsession with beauty and impossible body ideals. Having refused makeup, high heels, and short skirts in their youth, these women are now entering the most stigmatized stage in a woman's life: old age. As their bodies gradually become those of the "older woman," the feminists' rejection of beauty standards and their ability to locate self-worth is being challenged afresh.
How will these women respond to the issues raised in this phase of their lives? It was difficult to become a woman in a patriarchal society, but it is even more difficult to become an older woman. By confronting the issues unique to older women in our culture and society, this book seeks to redress the neglect and isolation they have experienced within contemporary feminism and gerontology. Representing the multifaceted collectivity of women, the contributors explore the progression of women's roles and share the varied responses of women to the stereotypes and societal invalidation that they must grapple with throughout the aging process. Ultimately, the goal of the book is to inspire the quest for fresh paradigms to supplement, revise, and extend existing discourses in ways that will allow the aging woman to more easily embrace the "older other" within her.
Marilyn Pearsall teaches philosophy and women's studies at the University of Puget Sound and is a research associate at the Five College Women's Studies Research Center. She is the editor of Women and Values: Readings in Recent Feminist Philosophy and coeditor of Women, Knowledge, and Reality: Explorations in Feminist Philosophy.