chapter  10
18 Pages

Heterosexual ageing

Interrogating the taken-for-granted norm
WithSue Westwood

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Heterosexual ageing is the assumed, taken-for-granted and rarely critically interrogated norm in media and gerontological discourse. This chapter aims to: expose the hidden normative backcloth of heterosexuality in relation to ageing; raise critical questions about heterosexual ageing; outline knowledge gaps in this area; and to propose a potential future research agenda. This will be achieved drawing upon Nancy Fraser’s (1997, 2000) social justice framework, considering in particular (in)equalities of resources, recognition representation. I argue that in its taken-for-grantedness the disciplinary power of heterosexuality remains unquestioned and unseen, and propose that it needs equal, if not more, critical interrogation alongside all other ageing sexualities. I propose that there is a need to far better understand how heterosexuality as an identity practice and as a sexuality practice informs access to resources, recognition and representation in older age, as well as the contingencies and constructions of a later life heterosexual identity. I conclude only by critically engaging with heterosexuality can gerontological research and discourse become disengaged from their heterosexist and heteronormative underpinnings.