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“That's very rude, I shouldn't be telling you that”: Older women talking about sex

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Abstract:

This article discusses narratives created during interviews with 23 older women (aged 61–90) about their experiences of sex and intimate relationships in later life. For analytic purposes, the paper understands narratives to be neither pre-existing nor a simple reflection of experience, but to be made moment-by-moment in the interaction between parties drawing on available cultural resources. Attention to the interactional situation in which the narrative is produced helps to explain the ways in which speakers perpetuate or resist dominant cultural storylines. Older women's accounts of sexual relationships provide a particularly rich site for this analysis because a dominant cultural storyline of ‘asexual older people’ is often evident in popular culture. This storyline provides an important cultural resource which older women who are talking about sex can both draw on and resist in order to produce their own accounts. This article uses a discourse analytic approach to discuss some of the moments in which speakers explicitly produce counter-narratives. These moments are visible to the analyst by the participants' own orientations to telling a counter-narrative. The article also considers parts of the accounts which the analyst identifies as counter-narratives, although the speakers do not orient to this. The analyst's own position is thus implicated in the analysis and is reflexively considered.

Document Type: Regular Paper

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/ni.12.1.18jon

Publication date: August 1, 2002

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