Becoming Old. The Gendered Body and the Experience of Aging

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

Abstract

It seems rather obvious that the experience of ageing is not indifferent to gender, and that studies of gender ought to account for ageing and old age. Yet, the two subject matters have been rarely investigated together. This is due to the tendency to reduce ageing (as well as its gendered aspects) either to supposedly biological necessities or to their social construction and restrictions. Notwithstanding, both ageing and gender are first and foremost bodily phenomena. Aging, as well as gender are dimensions we experience, incorporate and express through our bodies. The aim of the proposed paper is to bridge the gap between the biological and social approaches to ageing and gender with a phenomenological-anthropological approach. In this respect, I want to argue that the biological and the social are intertwined in human embodiment. The paper thus addresses ageing and gender neither as purely biological nor as merely discursive phenomena, but as phenomena of an embodied experience. Experience in this sense is necessarily situated, constituted by biological, material, historical and socio-cultural circumstances. As situated bodily beings, we not only have a first, but also a second nature: social norms are incorporated in the ways we habitually relate to the world, ourselves and others. While the process of ageing always confronts us with the finitude and materiality of our bodily being in general, with respect to gender and ageing, this means, as situated, specific circumstances and norms influence not only the way we think about ageing, but also the processes of becoming older and the experience of our aged bodies. It seems rather obvious that the experience of ageing is not indifferent to gender, and that studies of gender ought to account for ageing and old age. Yet, the two subject matters have been rarely investigated together. This is due to the tendency to reduce ageing (as well as its gendered aspects) either to supposedly biological necessities or to their social construction and restrictions. Notwithstanding, both ageing and gender are first and foremost bodily phenomena. Aging, as well as gender are dimensions we experience, incorporate and express through our bodies. The aim of the proposed paper is to bridge the gap between the biological and social approaches to ageing and gender with a phenomenological-anthropological approach. In this respect, I want to argue that the biological and the social are intertwined in human embodiment. The paper thus addresses ageing and gender neither as purely biological nor as merely discursive phenomena, but as phenomena of an embodied experience. Experience in this sense is necessarily situated, constituted by biological, material, historical and socio-cultural circumstances. As situated bodily beings, we not only have a first, but also a second nature: social norms are incorporated in the ways we habitually relate to the world, ourselves and others. While the process of ageing always confronts us with the finitude and materiality of our bodily being in general, with respect to gender and ageing, this means, as situated, specific circumstances and norms influence not only the way we think about ageing, but also the processes of becoming older and the experience of our aged bodies. It seems rather obvious that the experience of ageing is not indifferent to gender, and that studies of gender ought to account for ageing and old age. Yet, the two subject matters have been rarely investigated together. This is due to the tendency to reduce ageing (as well as its gendered aspects) either to supposedly biological necessities or to their social construction and restrictions. Notwithstanding, both ageing and gender are first and foremost bodily phenomena. Aging, as well as gender are dimensions we experience, incorporate and express through our bodies. The aim of the proposed paper is to bridge the gap between the biological and social approaches to ageing and gender with a phenomenological-anthropological approach. In this respect, I want to argue that the biological and the social are intertwined in human embodiment. The paper thus addresses ageing and gender neither as purely biological nor as merely discursive phenomena, but as phenomena of an embodied experience. Experience in this sense is necessarily situated, constituted by biological, material, historical and socio-cultural circumstances. As situated bodily beings, we not only have a first, but also a second nature: social norms are incorporated in the ways we habitually relate to the world, ourselves and others. While the process of ageing always confronts us with the finitude and materiality of our bodily being in general, with respect to gender and ageing, this means, as situated, specific circumstances and norms influence not only the way we think about ageing, but also the processes of becoming older and the experience of our aged bodies. It seems rather obvious that the experience of ageing is not indifferent to gender, and that studies of gender ought to account for ageing and old age. Yet, the two subject matters have been rarely investigated together. This is due to the tendency to reduce ageing (as well as its gendered aspects) either to supposedly biological necessities or to their social construction and restrictions. Notwithstanding, both ageing and gender are first and foremost bodily phenomena. Aging, as well as gender are dimensions we experience, incorporate and express through our bodies. The aim of the proposed paper is to bridge the gap between the biological and social approaches to ageing and gender with a phenomenological-anthropological approach. In this respect, I want to argue that the biological and the social are intertwined in human embodiment. The paper thus addresses ageing and gender neither as purely biological nor as merely discursive phenomena, but as phenomena of an embodied experience. Experience in this sense is necessarily situated, constituted by biological, material, historical and socio-cultural circumstances. As situated bodily beings, we not only have a first, but also a second nature: social norms are incorporated in the ways we habitually relate to the world, ourselves and others. While the process of ageing always confronts us with the finitude and materiality of our bodily being in general, with respect to gender and ageing, this means, as situated, specific circumstances and norms influence not only the way we think about ageing, but also the processes of becoming older and the experience of our aged bodies. It seems rather obvious that the experience of ageing is not indifferent to gender, and that studies of gender ought to account for ageing and old age. Yet, the two subject matters have been rarely investigated together. This is due to the tendency to reduce ageing (as well as its gendered aspects) either to supposedly biological necessities or to their social construction and restrictions. Notwithstanding, both ageing and gender are first and foremost bodily phenomena. Aging, as well as gender are dimensions we experience, incorporate and express through our bodies. The aim of the proposed paper is to bridge the gap between the biological and social approaches to ageing and gender with a phenomenological-anthropological approach. In this respect, I want to argue that the biological and the social are intertwined in human embodiment. The paper thus addresses ageing and gender neither as purely biological nor as merely discursive phenomena, but as phenomena of an embodied experience. Experience in this sense is necessarily situated, constituted by biological, material, historical and socio-cultural circumstances. As situated bodily beings, we not only have a first, but also a second nature: social norms are incorporated in the ways we habitually relate to the world, ourselves and others. While the process of ageing always confronts us with the finitude and materiality of our bodily being in general, with respect to gender and ageing, this means, as situated, specific circumstances and norms influence not only the way we think about ageing, but also the processes of becoming older and the experience of our aged bodies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAging and Human Nature. Perspectives from Philosophical, Theological, and Historical Anthropology
Editors Mark Schweda, Michael Coors, Claudia Bozzaro
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer-Verlag
Pages61-74
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9783030250973
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

SeriesInternational Perspectives on Aging
Volumevol. 25

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