Agewise: Fighting The New Ageism In America

Paperback | October 21, 2013

byMargaret Morganroth Gullette

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Let’s face it: almost everyone fears growing older. We worry about losing our looks, our health, our jobs, our self-esteem—and being supplanted in work and love by younger people. It feels like the natural, inevitable consequence of the passing years, But what if it’s not? What if nearly everything that we think of as the “natural” process of aging is anything but?

In Agewise, renowned cultural critic Margaret Morganroth Gullette reveals that much of what we dread about aging is actually the result of ageism—which we can, and should, battle as strongly as we do racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry. Drawing on provocative and under-reported evidence from biomedicine, literature, economics, and personal stories, Gullette probes the ageism thatdrives discontent with our bodies, our selves, and our accomplishments—and makes us easy prey for marketers who want to sell us an illusory vision of youthful perfection. Even worse, rampant ageism causes society to discount, and at times completely discard, the wisdom and experience acquired by people over the course of adulthood. The costs—both collective and personal—of this culture of decline are almost incalculable, diminishing our workforce, robbing younger people of hope for a decent later life, and eroding the satisfactions and sense of productivity that should animate our later years.

Once we open our eyes to the pervasiveness of ageism, however, we can begin to fight it—and Gullette lays out ambitious plans for the whole life course, from teaching children anti-ageism to fortifying the social safety nets, and thus finally making possible the real pleasures and opportunities promised by the new longevity. A bracing, controversial call to arms, Agewise will surprise, enlighten, and, perhaps most important, bring hope to readers of all ages.

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Let’s face it: almost everyone fears growing older. We worry about losing our looks, our health, our jobs, our self-esteem—and being supplanted in work and love by younger people. It feels like the natural, inevitable consequence of the passing years, But what if it’s not? What if nearly everything that we think of as the “natural” pro...

Margaret Morganroth Gullette is the author of three previous books, including Aged by Culture, which was chosen a Notable Book of the year by the Christian Science Monitor, and Declining to Decline.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.9 inPublished:October 21, 2013Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022610186X

ISBN - 13:9780226101866

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The New Regimes of Decline

A Historical Tsunami

 

part one: the hidden coercions of ageism

1 The Eskimo on the Ice Floe    

Is It Aging or Ageism That Causes the Pain?

2 The Mystery of Carolyn Heilbrun’s Suicide    

Fear of Aging, Ageism, and the “Duty to Die

3 The Oldest Have Borne Most    

Katrina and the Politics of Later Life

part two: in the feminist country of later life

4 Hormone Nostalgia    

Estrogen, Not Menopause, Is the Public Health Menace

5 Plastic Wrap    

Turning against Cosmetic Surgery

6 Improving Sexuality across the Life Course    

Why Sex for Women Is Likely to Get Better with Age

part three: our best and longest-running story

7 Our Best and Longest-Running Story     

Why Is Telling Progress Narrative So Necessary, and So Difficult?

8 The Daughters’ Club    

Does Emma Woodhouse’s Father Suffer from “Dementia”?

 

9 Overcoming the Terror of Forgetfulness    

Why America’s Escalating Dread of Memory Loss Is Dangerous to

Our Human Relations, Our Mental Health, and Public Policy

10 Elegies and Romances of Later Life    

Are There Better Ways to Tell Our Saddest Later-Life Stories?

Afterword: The Next Angels in America    

Acknowledgments    

Notes    

Bibliography    

Index

Editorial Reviews

"Agewise stands as a thoroughly comprehensive study, one which meets all of its claims and does so tenaciously and with a rigour that reflects the depth of both. . . . The dual figurations of feminist thought and narratological analysis respectively inform and shape the course of the book. As the author notes, this is at least in part because 'aging is a narrative.' Thus, the study is shaped first and foremost by its attention to narrative, its study of one narrative [decline, in the United States] and its shape as a narrative. . . . Its beginning is its end and the progression is wonderfully symmetrical, uniform and measured. No detail remains without return or recapitulation, including the reference to Conan O’Brien's joke about the AARP installment of the 2008 U.S. presidential debates. . . . Make no mistake, as much as the deeply detailed research is there, this a carefully crafted narrative, one which follows the archetypal construction of such, whether one is a student of Frye or Bakhtin, Propp or Campbell. There is a descent and an ascent; the beginning is the daemonic parody of the end."