Aging as a Feminist Concern
January 21-22, 2011
Emory University School of Law
Aging is a feminist issue. The elderly, especially the oldest of the old, are disproportionately female. Among the elderly, women are more likely than their male peers to face a number of challenges, including poverty, disability and isolation. Yet, the legal academy, including feminist legal theorists, is only just beginning to pay attention to old age and its implications. This workshop will advance this agenda by bringing together a diverse group of scholars to explore the relationship between feminist theory, law and policy, and the concerns of the aging. We will focus on understanding how the relationship between age and gender can be theorized, as well as exploring how feminist legal theory can inform policy and law in the U.S. and abroad.
Feminist legal theorists are in an excellent position to advance progressive and transformative theories about aging. The form and content of the negative stereotypes older adults are frequently subjected to parallel negative stereotypes about women. Like women, the elderly (both men and women) have traditionally been cast as mentally inadequate, frail, and in need of protection by outsiders. Both age and gender – and out-dated conceptions of each – have historically been cavalierly used as convenient proxies for other, more germane, characteristics. In addition, older women face many of the same gendered inequalities of younger women in contexts ranging from domestic violence to employment discrimination. Further, the growing population of older women raises distinct issues of caretaking whether the older woman is serving as caretaker or as the care recipient.