WORLD ANTHROPOLOGICAL UNION

CONGRESS 2024​

SELECTED PANEL

( pn108 )

Ageing, Sexuality and Cognitions about Feminine Body

Organizers

    Subhadra Channa

    India

    Delhi University

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

    Annapoorna Devi Pandey

    United States of America

    University of Santa Cruz, California

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

IUAES Affiliation: Aging and the Life Course

IUAES Affiliation: Global Feminisms and Queer Politics

Keywords:

Age, Sexuality, Exclusion, Contestation, Rights

Abstract:

There is exists an almost universal association between age and sexuality as most cultures associate feminine sexuality with a certain age category and those who are younger or older than that preferred age are deemed less desirable. It is paradoxical that such preferences focus more on the feminine body than on that of the male, whose range of being desirable usually spans a much broader span. However this age category is variable across societies and also has been changing over the years. There are also the possibilities of desire for those outside of the desired categories, such as too young or too old and such transgressions are often criminalized such as sexual relations with ‘underage’ children, where the label underage or what is known as the ‘age of consent’ may also vary greatly across cultures and historical time periods as does cognitions about who is too old to have bodily desires. For example while about a hundred years back five year old girls were legally married off in India, at present the marriage of a girl under eighteen years of age is a punishable crime. Anything outside the normative is perceived as anti-social, such as rape of pre-pubescent children is seen as violations of humanity while denial of sexuality to older women or to those socially stigmatized like widows, trans-genders and homo-sexual; often robs them of legitimate desires and aspirations. In the era of neo-liberal economy, market forces play a key role in identifying desirability and ageing as they actively advertise products to overcome these handicaps, such as being perceived as under or over age, stretching age beyond its normal limits and at the same time they also help to reaffirm the normative in some respects like center-staging of heterosexuality. In this panel papers are invited about the cognitions about age and feminine sexuality as well as the associated cultural, political and economic factors that inform these perceptions, including market forces and political agendas of various political regimes. Inputs about the various ways in which the cognitive stereotypes are challenged or contested by persons who may seek liberation from such stereotyping and exclusionary perceptions are welcome. Papers are also invited on the non-heterosexual variations and the violation of human rights to those having non-normative sexual desires. In fact the panel would appreciate papers that focus on the aspects of resilience, protest and a critical approach to existing stereotypes about ageing, sexuality and their various intersections.