Stuff I'm reading
Stuff I'm reading in the mags, books and the blogosphere.
Last month the Atlantic magazine’s cover story described living past 75 as pretty darn inadvisable. Now, in quite the about-face, the December cover story champions the Happiness U-Curve (or “U-shaped Happiness Curve," as I’ve been calling it, or “U-bend” in Britspeak): : the growing body of research showing, in writer Jonathan Rausch’s words, that “we reliably grow happier, regardless of circumstances, after our 40s.”
Caption: An analysis by the Brookings scholars Carol Graham and Milena Nikolova, drawing on Gallup polls, shows a clear relationship between age and well-being in the United States. Respondents rated their life satisfaction relative to the “best possible life” for them, with 0 being worst and 10 being best.
Writing in the new journal Age Culture Humanities, Chris Gilleard of London's University College salutes the cultural turn in age studies and its attendant view of aging as socially and culturally constructed (along with race, gender, disability, and sexuality). Within this broader framework, aging studies "queers" its older and more established partner, gerontology, Gilleard observes.
It's a long way from first to final, but I'm happy. Feels appropriate for the first day of spring.
In a logical prequel to the Septuagenarian Sex Shocker, this just in: middle-aged women who are sexually active continue to have sex! Even if they’re diagnosed with sexual dysfunction—a term that’s beginning to lose scientific credibility, and not soon enough.
In the New York Times on January 20: "In her cogent look at the link between gender and poverty (“How Can We Help Men? By Helping Women,” Opinion, Jan. 12), Stephanie Coontz calls for prioritizing affordable child care. Decent, reliable elder care is just as important. Women perform the vast majority of this unpaid labor as well, and the age of the person requiring care should be irrelevant."
I suspected that I might find a kindred spirit in Anne Karpf, and her excellent article in the Guardian about why we shouldn't fear getting old confirms it. Karpf writes of the turning point in our twenties when disdain for those younger than us turns to disregard for our elders, and the consequent body dysmorphia, “propelled at least partly by a fear of ageing, [that] has become a cultural condition.” So many adolescents are getting Botox injections that there’s a name for it: “teen toxing!”
I stole that line from Lynn Parramore, whose excellent piece about age discrimination in the workplace just came out on Alternet. According to Parramore, ageism may be more common than other forms of bias, like ethnic discrimination, and job insecurity is the number-one source of financial stress for Americans over age 50.