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Gender Studies Mphil Thesis Plan '''top Of The Mountain'' Yet ''over The Hill'' A Study Of Cultural Negativity Towards Female Ageing' Notes

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1. Media as evidence of the existence of gendered ageism The thesis will begin with an overview of the media in order to demonstrate the reality of gendered ageism and to provide a basis for subsequent discussion.

2. Reasons behind this ageism ie from what does it stem?
This section will explore the possible reasons for this ageism. The overall argument of this section (and the thesis as a whole) is that double-standards regarding ageing can be traced back to a variety of binary divisions that have led to males and females being valued for different qualities, with these divisions reinforcing one another and sometimes being taken to be natural and inevitable when they are in fact socially constructed. Starting from the active male / passive female distinction, I will explore how this manifests itself in the act of looking, so that men are positioned as active bearers of the gaze (here, I will distinguish between the 'look' and the 'gaze') and women its passive recipients, with women being judged on their appearance (and, by association, youth) while men are valued for their actions and achievements. Likewise, I will point to the alignment of men with power and women with weakness as another offshoot from the active / passive division, and suggest that the valorisation of a youthful appearance in women may be considered desirable in women because of its connotations of weakness, fragility and inexperience. However, I will argue that preservation of a youthful appearance may not be sufficient to conceal 'threatening' character traits; that is, the increased confidence, independence and assertiveness that women may gain with maturity. I will then build upon this discussion of power by considering another division: that which has traditionally aligned men with the public sphere and women with the domestic sphere. Chiefly, I will suggest that the pervasive association of men with the private sphere may mean that retirement may be considered to present a greater crisis for men than for women. However, I will emphasise that, though they have been traditionally associated with the domestic sphere, women themselves may not necessarily share this viewpoint and thus may find leaving the public sphere a profound / jarring experience. In addition, I will consider how the linking of women with the domestic sphere could be seen to relate to the menopause. That is, given that women have been pervasively defined by their reproductive capacity and associated with motherhood and the domestic sphere, the termination of this reproductive ability may be regarded as signalling that a woman is no longer of value. I will further suggest, given the belief that a female's sexuality is passive (again, returning to the active / passive division) and founded on her reproductive ability and her desirability to men, it may be assumed that the cessation of this reproductive ability signals a similar cessation of a woman's sexuality - an assumption against which I will argue. In addition, I will examine the way in which science has been used in order to support negative Western views of the menopause, and will subsequently present other, more positive interpretations of the menopause in order to emphasise that such negativity is not inevitable but rather informed by social context.

3. How women react to this ageism; specifically, why they may not always contest it This section will explore the reasons why women may not necessarily recognise or fight against

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