We are in the midst of fundamental change in 2002

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We are in the midst of fundamental change. In 2002, Nancy Pelosi was the first woman tobe elected by her colleagues as minority leader of the House of Representatives.We can also note that more women are becoming corporate executives, and, as indicated in more women are becoming lawyers. In these positions, women are traveling more and making statewide and national contacts. Another change is that childcare is increasingly seen as a responsibility of both mother and father. With these changes, it is only a matter of time until a woman occupies the Oval Office.8
Glimpsing the Future with Hope: Women’s fuller participation in the decision-making processes of our social institutions has shattered stereotypes that tended to limit females to “feminine” activities and push males into “masculine” ones. As structural barriers continue to fall and more activities areengendered, both males and females will have greater freedom to pursue activities that are more compatible with their abilities and desires as individuals.As females and males develop a new consciousness both of their capacities and of their potential, relationships will change. Distinctions between the sexes will not disappear, butthere is no reason for biological differences to be translated into social inequalities. Our potential, as sociologist Alison Jaggar (1990) observed, is for gender equality to become less a goal than a background condition for living in society.Aging in Global PerspectiveWhat is of interest for our purposes is how the Tiwi treated their frail elderly—or, more specifically, their frail femaleelderly. Females are discriminated against throughout the world. Every society must deal with the problem of people growing old, and of some becoming frail. Although few societies choose to bury old people alive, all societies must decide how to allocate limited resources among their citizens. With the percentage of the population that is old increasing in many nations, these decisions are generating tensions between the generations.The Social Construction of Aging: The way the Tiwi treated frail elderly women reflects one extreme of how societies cope with aging. Three main factors appear to account for their long lives. oThe firstis their diet, which consists of little meat, much fresh fruit, vegetables, garlic, goat cheese, cornmeal, buttermilk, and wine. oThe secondis their lifelong physical activity. They do slow down after age 80, buteven after the age of 100 they still work about four hours a day.oThe thirdfactor—a highly developed sense of community—lies at the very heartof the Abkhasian culture.oFrom childhood, each individual is integrated into a primary group and remains sothroughout life. There is no such thing as a nursing home, nor do the elderly live alone. Because they continue to work and contribute to the group’s welfare, the elderly aren’t a burden to anyone.

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