48.4 Age and gender in brazilian self-help books

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 11:30 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Talita CASTRO , Department of Anthopology, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, Brazil
This work aims to capture the socio-cultural construction of midlife crises in Brazilian self-help literature, through the interplay of two analytical categories: gender and aging, taking into account the anti-aging contemporary experiences, the variety of identity branding and the elevation of youth as a value. The analysis focuses on the popular images of the male and female wolves (lobos and lobas, in Portuguese) that characterize the midlife or forty-years-old crises in Brazil since the 1990s. The effort is to capture the changes that the gender deviations bring to define the midlife in this particular kind of media. Apparently dealing with the same period of life in a given social context, the books play an active role reproducing and recreating differences and inequalities about the social and emotional experiences of aging men and women. While men are seen as fragile and childish, women are seen as powerful and seductive, despite the physical transformations in this period of life. From the theoretical framework of sociology and anthropology of emotions and care, and the generation and life courses topics, I propose a debate on the socio-emotional expectations for this stage of life. Reinforcing, at the same time, risk and individual crises feelings, and family and traditional positions, Brazilian self-help literature constitute a rich field for sociology study, and part of this work looks at the possible social-cultural specificities in this context. Additionally, it also highlights the procedures of construction of other age images and meanings such as the futile young adult and the really old women and men, that have no bodies or emotional expectations. The crises arises as a possible result of the interplay between the extension of the adult life tendency and the anti-aging experience, full with inequities between those who can access and live it and those that can not.