Men’s Attitudes to Aging: Threatened, Performed, and Negotiated Masculinity

Jonathan Glendenning, Anne Quéniart, Michèle Charpentier

Abstract


Like feminist research, which for a long time neglected the situation of older women, most of the research on masculinity has ignored the experiences of older men. The research in this area is scant, especially in the francophone world, as several researchers have pointed out. We were interested in gaining a comprehensive understanding of what aging means for men aged 65 and over, and how they experience aging in their day-to-day lives. Since we wanted to allow the older men to express themselves on their experience of aging, we opted for a qualitative approach, specifically semi-structured interviews. In this article, we propose to show that aging affects how men relate to masculinity, compelling them to redefine its contours. This article describes the challenges aging represents for men over 65 in relation to what they consider their “masculinity,” paying particular attention to their experiences of retirement and deteriorating physical appearance and strength. We show that their experience and interpretation of aging is one of jeopardized masculinity, which causes them to perform and negotiate masculinity as a way of adapting to getting old.

 

Keyword: masculinity, aging, older man, performance, negotiation.

 


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