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In Our Prime: How Older Women Are Reinventing the Road Ahead

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With a sharp sense of justice and humor, Susan J. Douglas confronts ageism against women in media, work, and politics. In the 1970s, baby boom women began to redefine women’s lives and opportunities. Now, that they are the largest American female generation over fifty, Susan J. Douglas argues that these feminist boomers are again challenging outdated stereotypes, and reinve With a sharp sense of justice and humor, Susan J. Douglas confronts ageism against women in media, work, and politics. In the 1970s, baby boom women began to redefine women’s lives and opportunities. Now, that they are the largest American female generation over fifty, Susan J. Douglas argues that these feminist boomers are again challenging outdated stereotypes, and reinventing what it means to be older and female. This is a demographic revolution, and Douglas proposes that it’s time for a new wave of activism to address ageism against women in all its manifestations. In Our Prime takes on the cosmetics industry for its expensive products and anti-aging messages; big pharma for its images of docile grannies and puttering gardeners; and Hollywood and TV for seeing females over fifty as has-beens. She exposes the financial insecurity many face even as conservatives continue their attack on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—and calls on women of every age to unite to combat gendered ageism and to secure our country’s financial safety net.


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With a sharp sense of justice and humor, Susan J. Douglas confronts ageism against women in media, work, and politics. In the 1970s, baby boom women began to redefine women’s lives and opportunities. Now, that they are the largest American female generation over fifty, Susan J. Douglas argues that these feminist boomers are again challenging outdated stereotypes, and reinve With a sharp sense of justice and humor, Susan J. Douglas confronts ageism against women in media, work, and politics. In the 1970s, baby boom women began to redefine women’s lives and opportunities. Now, that they are the largest American female generation over fifty, Susan J. Douglas argues that these feminist boomers are again challenging outdated stereotypes, and reinventing what it means to be older and female. This is a demographic revolution, and Douglas proposes that it’s time for a new wave of activism to address ageism against women in all its manifestations. In Our Prime takes on the cosmetics industry for its expensive products and anti-aging messages; big pharma for its images of docile grannies and puttering gardeners; and Hollywood and TV for seeing females over fifty as has-beens. She exposes the financial insecurity many face even as conservatives continue their attack on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—and calls on women of every age to unite to combat gendered ageism and to secure our country’s financial safety net.

30 review for In Our Prime: How Older Women Are Reinventing the Road Ahead

  1. 4 out of 5

    Graeme Roberts

    Baby Boomer women are well-informed, positive, sexy, and determined to contribute. This book spends all its energy bellyaching about old sins, and the one chapter about how to make a better future is weak.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kathy McC

    So much research; lots of referenced notes. Research is used well to support points of analysis. Increased my awareness, although I didn't always agree with Ms. Douglas's point of view. "We're also supposed to keep quiet about and ignore the muscular efforts by the mostly white-haired men our age-or older- to reverse so many of the gains women of our generation achieved. "Our whole lives have been an experiment, doing things are mothers rarely did, or couldn't do. We are women who changed history So much research; lots of referenced notes. Research is used well to support points of analysis. Increased my awareness, although I didn't always agree with Ms. Douglas's point of view. "We're also supposed to keep quiet about and ignore the muscular efforts by the mostly white-haired men our age-or older- to reverse so many of the gains women of our generation achieved. "Our whole lives have been an experiment, doing things are mothers rarely did, or couldn't do. We are women who changed history, women who are still changing history, women who now need to change the future." "Actually studies have found that children of working mothers enjoy a variety of benefits- economic, educational, and social." "What if we had gender impact assessments, analyzing what budget priorities would mean for women? Japan, Canada, and France do just that."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dee Wood

    Disappointing & Sadly Political As a 70 year old athlete, I was so hoping to find a smart, incisive & thoughtful read about the power of aging. This book doesn’t come close. She diverts from what should have been a focus on this unifying passage of womanhood, to cheap political slaps having nothing to do with this special transitional time. Don’t waste your time reading it... so disappointing. Disappointing & Sadly Political As a 70 year old athlete, I was so hoping to find a smart, incisive & thoughtful read about the power of aging. This book doesn’t come close. She diverts from what should have been a focus on this unifying passage of womanhood, to cheap political slaps having nothing to do with this special transitional time. Don’t waste your time reading it... so disappointing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Susan Kietzman

    The reason I didn't give this book a higher rating is because I'm already familiar with the material in ninety percent of it, due to the fact that I've been researching gender for a novel. And so this was repeat information for me, and therefore not as revelatory as new material. Douglas, however, has clearly researched the systematic (and personal) oppression of women - and presents a clear argument for change. So, if you haven't studied this unfair and yet still prevalent practice, I recommend The reason I didn't give this book a higher rating is because I'm already familiar with the material in ninety percent of it, due to the fact that I've been researching gender for a novel. And so this was repeat information for me, and therefore not as revelatory as new material. Douglas, however, has clearly researched the systematic (and personal) oppression of women - and presents a clear argument for change. So, if you haven't studied this unfair and yet still prevalent practice, I recommend this book to you. The best part is the final chapter, which outlines action items for all women to overturn archaic practices and theories and to ensure the equal treatment of women of all ages.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Valorie Hallinan

    This book is a worthy effort and a needed contribution. Yet it was a tedious read - I didn't care for the sometimes snarky author's style and tone - and the title didn't match the contents. I would have liked to read about women really breaking new boundaries and forging new paths, but there was little of that beyond a list of the very famous and/or brilliantly accomplished on a few of the final pages of the book. Lots of data and statistics. A long chapter on media representation of older women This book is a worthy effort and a needed contribution. Yet it was a tedious read - I didn't care for the sometimes snarky author's style and tone - and the title didn't match the contents. I would have liked to read about women really breaking new boundaries and forging new paths, but there was little of that beyond a list of the very famous and/or brilliantly accomplished on a few of the final pages of the book. Lots of data and statistics. A long chapter on media representation of older women, with lengthy plot summaries - nothing much new here, and I don't watch network TV because the same few, aging actresses such as Jane Fonda are highlighted. In featuring many of the cliches used in media portrayals of older women, it sometimes felt to me as though those cliches were being reinforced. A long chapter on anti-aging products - ok, we get it, but is that relevant to most of us who don't buy these way overpriced products? Another long chapter on Big Pharma - again, pharma's cliched depictions of older women aren't my top worry. A good chapter on systemic discrimination in the US - I wish she would have focused more on this. Some good suggestions at the end about how to bring about change, but rendered in an uninspired way, and nothing new here.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie McDaniel

    My favorite part of this book is the chapter on pop culture's depiction of older women: Chapter 5, "Visibility Revolts." The Golden Girls, Murder, She Wrote and Grace and Frankie are discussed in detail. Chapter 2, "Why the Seventies Mattered," talks about the sweeping societal and legislative changes in America, and also discusses a woman I never heard of, Maggie Kuhn, the founder of the Gray Panthers. The chapter is summed up thusly: So don't waste your time with CNN-style quizzes about who pla My favorite part of this book is the chapter on pop culture's depiction of older women: Chapter 5, "Visibility Revolts." The Golden Girls, Murder, She Wrote and Grace and Frankie are discussed in detail. Chapter 2, "Why the Seventies Mattered," talks about the sweeping societal and legislative changes in America, and also discusses a woman I never heard of, Maggie Kuhn, the founder of the Gray Panthers. The chapter is summed up thusly: So don't waste your time with CNN-style quizzes about who played Starsky and who played Hutch. The 1970s was nothing less than a major, national upheaval in gender relations that profoundly shaped the fortunes and fate of millions of young and middle-aged women (and men too), and it continues to do so today. Maggie Kuhn was paying it forward to us. She promoted a visibility revolt that had real consequences. Let's have a drink in her honor, and then let's pick up her torch. In this book, the author advocates for "lifespan feminism," which she defines thusly: "which sees the issues facing older women as part of a continuum of concern, attention, and activism that begins with the well-being of girls and young women and sees feminism as a mainstay and resource throughout the entire arc of a woman's life." As this book points out, just because a woman gets older, and moves beyond her childbearing years, doesn't mean she needs feminism less. This is a well-written, thoughtful book for feminists of any age.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    The last couple of chapters are what I was interested in...the numbers about women adversely affected by policies and what to do about it. The first 3/4 of the book is all about media representations of older women...OK, but not what was advertised in the title.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

    My first problem with the book is that "older women" means baby boomers. Despite devoting a sentence to women in their eighties running marathons, the focus is on women born after 1946. News flash- there are lots of energetic, active, sociologically and politically aware women born in the 10 years before. Secondly, it's been done before and better. Check out This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism by Applewhite or Age Wise: Fighting the New Ageism in America by Gullette. These titles offer a My first problem with the book is that "older women" means baby boomers. Despite devoting a sentence to women in their eighties running marathons, the focus is on women born after 1946. News flash- there are lots of energetic, active, sociologically and politically aware women born in the 10 years before. Secondly, it's been done before and better. Check out This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism by Applewhite or Age Wise: Fighting the New Ageism in America by Gullette. These titles offer a broader scope and deeper insights on the subject of ageism. Thirdly, the major focus of this title is ageism in the media. On the positive side, the author promotes "building bridge feminism" where older women share lessons learned during the first wave of feminism in the 60s's and 70's with younger women.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mick Brady

    "In Our Prime" by Susan J. Douglas is a new sort of "coming of age" book that offers a context for the wildly contradictory messages women receive as they leave the shelter of youth to brave the storms of "old age" -- whatever euphemisms are used to describe it -- which for some begins at the ripe old age of 30. While most people aspire to continue aging as long as possible, death being unattractive to most, many view those who accomplish the feat as diminished. That's particularly true for wome "In Our Prime" by Susan J. Douglas is a new sort of "coming of age" book that offers a context for the wildly contradictory messages women receive as they leave the shelter of youth to brave the storms of "old age" -- whatever euphemisms are used to describe it -- which for some begins at the ripe old age of 30. While most people aspire to continue aging as long as possible, death being unattractive to most, many view those who accomplish the feat as diminished. That's particularly true for women, whose value long has been associated with appearance, much more so than men, and who historically have been much less likely to acquire power. Experience is good, but wrinkles are hideous. Assertiveness is good if you can manage to be obsequious at the same time. In "In Our Prime," Douglas shines a bright light on a vast array of misconceptions about women who choose not to close any doors on their future prospects just because they've reached a certain birthday. She sounds a rallying cry for women to support one another in all stages of life, building bridges of understanding between younger and older generations, disintegrating prejudices while seizing both pride and opportunity.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Megan O'Neill

    This is an excellent book that really captures both the science and the culturally ascribed meaning of this thing called “middle age.” Susan Douglas’s exploration of the emotional, cognitive, and experiential package that, if we are lucky, we own at that time of life was fascinating and highly accessible. Really brilliantly written -- and provides an excellent launching point for those of us in “middle age” to understand where we are in our lives and push back on the roles to which we are assign This is an excellent book that really captures both the science and the culturally ascribed meaning of this thing called “middle age.” Susan Douglas’s exploration of the emotional, cognitive, and experiential package that, if we are lucky, we own at that time of life was fascinating and highly accessible. Really brilliantly written -- and provides an excellent launching point for those of us in “middle age” to understand where we are in our lives and push back on the roles to which we are assigned, the cramped or reduced expectations others have of us, and our own self-imposed limitations and push forward in new journeys that embrace everything we are. I just wish this book would be read by a wide spectrum of people from different ages and backgrounds. Afterall, we all aspire to get here!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rae Simpson

    Minuteman. South won by creating racist individualistic "freedom" culture in the west as south, so a coalition starting with Goldwater that proved to be a juggernaut, overtaking moderate Republicans, trouncing Democrats, restoring and strengthening oligarchy of rich property owners. Key moments: overturning fairness doctrine 1987 allowing the rise of Fox "News" in 1990s. Nixon southern strategy, Reagan's success. Bringing evangelicals onboard, persuading them to be against abortion. Racism, sexi Minuteman. South won by creating racist individualistic "freedom" culture in the west as south, so a coalition starting with Goldwater that proved to be a juggernaut, overtaking moderate Republicans, trouncing Democrats, restoring and strengthening oligarchy of rich property owners. Key moments: overturning fairness doctrine 1987 allowing the rise of Fox "News" in 1990s. Nixon southern strategy, Reagan's success. Bringing evangelicals onboard, persuading them to be against abortion. Racism, sexism, keeping underlings in their place. Main goals: cut and minimize taxes, deregulation, government out of their business, no support for needy, cuts in social programs, amassing of wealth for the elite. Trump took off the veneer, but it was all there.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    A great look at the effects of sexism on women, especially older women, and how ageism combines with sexism to make things worse for older women. Then you add race/ethnicity for some women, and they are really in trouble. Douglas gives a good checklist of things we could do, but until the wider world (men?) is convinced that these really are problems, I don't see how things are going to change, especially in the current political climate. Still, fight on we must. A lot of things in this book wen A great look at the effects of sexism on women, especially older women, and how ageism combines with sexism to make things worse for older women. Then you add race/ethnicity for some women, and they are really in trouble. Douglas gives a good checklist of things we could do, but until the wider world (men?) is convinced that these really are problems, I don't see how things are going to change, especially in the current political climate. Still, fight on we must. A lot of things in this book went "click" for me as I recognized them in my life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dhartridge

    Lively writing,good book. Maybe rates 4 stars? I am not tuned in to pop culture much nor to high end shopping and fancy anti aging products,so I felt there was too much emphasis on those areas where older women either ignored or demeaned. Her summaries of how things like Social Security unfairly leave many hard working women in poverty make a good argument for the need for change.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Hotbookgirl

    Great book

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Amen sister, amen.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nannette Thomas

    Skimmed most of this book. Not really my thing. Interesting points but too much about how the media portrays women, etc.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Erika Kraus

    I won this book in the giveaway! I love the topic explored in this novel and found inspiration between the pages. I look forward to discussing with my book group next month!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robyn Martin

    Audible

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robin P

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tina

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anna Craig

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nathalie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Christina

  25. 4 out of 5

    Story

  26. 5 out of 5

    Diane M. Bancroft

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  28. 4 out of 5

    Karen Hales

  29. 5 out of 5

    Regina

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lstolowitz

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