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'Well-experienced Daddies' and 'Mature Women': Representations of Old Age and Ageing Bodies in Web-based GLBTQ Communities
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, NISAL - National Institute for the Study of Ageing and Later Life. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2010 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The aged body is often considered as asexual and notions of it as unbounded, frail and leaky clashes with ideas of sex as connected to the young, smooth and attractive. Simultaneously the concept of successful aging, associated with autonomy, activity and consumption includes ideals of an active sex life in old age, however often preserved for the still active and able and thus constructed in contrast to the ‘oldest old’. These contradictory discourses raise questions of old people’s possibilities to express desires and wishes for intimacy, sexuality and sex. Homo- and bisexual persons in old age have in their turn often experienced shame and stigma during their lives since homosexuality has been seen as deviant, perverted, and during certain time periods even as a disease or as criminal.

The Internet offers new forms of establishing contacts and presenting the self. In web-based gay communities where persons seek friends, partners and sexual contacts, the personal profiles vary from shorter personal descriptions with mug shots to more explicit pornographic texts with pictures and films of the naked body. Age is often highly present in the nicknames and in the texts. How is the aged, “queer” body represented here and how are notions about age, class, sexuality and gender constructed?

The analysis concerns homo- and bisexual men and women aged 60 and over and is based on profiles from two different web-based gay communities. Text presentations and photographs constitute the empirical material supplemented by qualitative in depth interviews conducted with persons in these communities. On the one hand, preliminary results point at old age being accentuated as something positive and used to mark oneself as mature and sexually experienced, but on the other hand as a disadvantage in relation to youthfulness. An intersectional perspective is also used to analyze social positions and their interconnections. The analysis indicates that these communities can be an arena for agency and for challenging ideas of aged bodies as asexual.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
old age, ageing, gender, sexuality, dating advertisments, body
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-65679OAI: diva2:398098
Gerontological society of America 63rd Annual Scientific Meeting
Available from: 2011-02-16 Created: 2011-02-16 Last updated: 2011-02-18

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NISAL - National Institute for the Study of Ageing and Later LifeFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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