Age, Gender and Sexuality through the Life Course argues that the gendered structure of temporality (defined in the dual sense of everyday time as well as age and stage of life) is a key factor underpinning the stalling of the gender revolution. Taking as its central focus the idealised young woman who serves as the mascot of contemporary success, this book demonstrates how the celebration of the Girl is (i) representative of social mobility, educational and professional achievement; (ii) possesses diligence, docility and emotional intelligence, and (iii) displays a reassuring sexuality and youthfulness – but is constructed from the outset to have a fleetingly short life span.
Pickard undertakes a theoretical and empirical exploration of the contemporary female experience of education, work, motherhood, sexuality, the challenge of having-it-all. Furthermore, through additional analysis of the transitional ‘reproductive regime’ from youth into mid-life and beyond, this insightful monograph aims to demonstrate how age and time set very clear limits to what is possible and desirable for the female self; yet how the latter factors also, if used reflexively, can provide the key means of resisting and challenging patriarchy.
This book is aimed at a broad interdisciplinary audience located in gender studies, age studies, culture studies, sociology and psychology; accessible for advanced undergraduates and beyond.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Introduction: femininity and age, or, how time is not on our side
Chapter Two: The rise and fall of the Girl in time
Chapter Three: Structures of the female self
Chapter Four: The Girl in time: everyday time, time of life and the structures of femininity
Chapter Five: The self through time: feminine plots through the life course
Chapter Six: Sex in time: sexual liberation – another stalled revolution
Chapter Seven: Conclusion: imagining alternatives to the Girl in time
Susan Pickard is Reader in Sociology in the Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology, University of Liverpool, UK.
Is equality simply a façade behind which men and women’s experiences of temporality remain distinct? By working through women’s lives – from the Girl to the Menopausal Woman – Susan Pickard’s book addresses this question, and in so doing brings into focus both the opportunities and the costs of their unique temporal awareness. Even though she contends that temporal inequalities, intertwined with sexuality, gender and age, have not decreased in recent years, Pickard’s vision is far from pessimistic: women’s voices and subjectivities cannot be silenced, and a temporal analysis gives them visibility.
Pickard constructs a rigorous narration of the relation between women and time in the everyday as well as across the life-course, making use of a variety of genres: sociological analysis supported by empirical data, feminist theories, but also novels, films and fiction. She ultimately produces a really enjoyable book.
—Carmen Leccardi, University of Milan-Bicocca
This book provides a fascinating and innovative exploration of the interconnections between gender and temporality. It convincingly shows how constructions of femininity, epitomised in the figure of ‘the Girl’, are essentially time limited and act to constrain women. Encouragingly, it also opens up the possibility of challenging these constraints and moving to a fairer, more equal – and more androgynous – society.
—Valerie Bryson, University of Huddersfield
‘In this excellent book, Susan Pickard weaves a complex account of gender and age. […] Combining an astute theoretical analysis with an exquisite literary sensibility, Pickard draws on a wide range of resources (from secondary analysis of socio-economic data to self-help books to fiction) to go beyond an ‘ages and stages’ approach to gender and sexuality across the lifecourse. In addition to its contributions to age studies, it will also greatly enrich analyses of post-feminist culture […] which have to date mostly focused on young women.’
—Barbara L. Marshall, Trent University, Canada, in Ageing & Society