Most people across the world especially the in the United States have high expectations of longer life expectancies. The observed results if this high expectation is a vital factor in the demographic changes of a given country, and results to an increased population of the number of people who live past the age of sixty five years. The results of increased elderly population, therefore, results to the growth in the interest of the subject of gerontology, a scientific study involving the elderly and aging. Gerontology as a subject involves a detailed study of biological, chronological, social, and psychological dimensions of aging. This topic puts its focus on the special problems that are faced by the elderly population. In this chapter, the study is conducted by focusing on a variety of factors which include aging and diversity from a global perspective, growing old in the American society, social explanations of the overall aging process, looking into the future from the perspective of age and the elderly for today and tomorrow, and the theories and concepts related to the aging process.
Aging and diversity: A global perspective
There is a notable variation in the treatment of the elderly and the attitude towards aging from one society to the other across the world. There are preindustrial societies which fall into two distinct patterns. The Nomadic type of food-foraging societies is a group of people where the elderly are considered as a burden in the event that they fall ill. On the other hand, the agrarian, horticultural, and pastoral communities consider the elderly to be at the top of the scheme of social stratification and much respect is granted to the aged group of people.
Growing old in the American society:
The aged groups of people face general problems experienced by other people from different societies. They have unique problems related to their age which come in the form of retirement, a factor that result to either poverty or fixed income, elder abuse, social isolation due to their age, declining health of their body system, and even death. In the United States, the media has began to portray the elderly in a more positive way targeting the large market represented by the elderly as consumers globally.
Sociological explanations of the aging process:
The aging process has been explained by a variety of sociological theories. Social disengagement has been considered as the main platform in which the elderly and the society at large participate in the act of mutual withdrawal from the habit of interaction. The subculture theory adopts a conflict approach and views the aged people as a different subculture that undergoes discrimination, prejudice, and inequality. Other theories that have been advanced to explain the aging process include activity theory and the exchange theory.
Looking to the future: Age and the elderly today and tomorrow
The twenty first century is perceived to see changes in the demographics, where the population of people over the age of sixty five will increase across the world. This huge population is expected to have an influential effect on the social, economic and political status of the United States as well as other societies from different countries.
Other factors discussed in this chapter that tough the lives of the elderly include the elderly abuse where the world is making an effort to ensure such cases are taken care of, and the health maintenance issues of the elderly who have special cases of health that come due to aging.
CHAPTER TWO: SEX AND GENDER
“Women need a reason to have sex, man just need a place.”
A general notion inculcated across the world is that men view the act of sex primarily in physical terms, whereas women view the act most an emotional point of view. Women often fall in love and expected a lot irrespective of men. There are great variations in the expectations of these two genders. The undeniable fact of women and men being different has brought about the emergence of innumerable stereotypes, arguments, and myths concerning what the differences proposed between the two genders necessarily mean. Most of the arguments tend to outline and define the extent of genetic, biological, and physiological differences that exist between the two genders basing on the social practices and cultural values that coexist between the two. The most evident conclusion derived from these arguments and myths is that there is a general confusion by people between the terms gender and sex.
Sex: Biological differentiation
The most part of differences in men and women are attributed to their biological and genetic setting. Human beings are biologically known to have forty six chromosomes, making up a total of twenty three pairs of chromosomes. Two of these chromosomes are responsible for the gender, the sex chromosomes; X and Y. Different hormones trigger physical changes in the female and male genitalia reproductive systems during the stage of prenatal development. The normal chromosomal patterns in males are the XY while in the females is the XX pattern. As people grow, they develop sex-linked changes in weight, height, facial and body hair, endurance, and physical strength. The body systems change basing on masculinity and femininity. Even though it is suggested that the brains structure and operation in females and males is different, other sources of research have suggested that they are similar in most ways and operation.
Homophobia is a topic of interest when discussing sex and gender. Bisexuality and homosexuality are conditions that are faced by some individuals and bear difficult social penalties within the community. There is a general hatred and discrimination attitude directed towards homosexuals in the society even if the laws gives them their freedom. In the society, homosexuals have become the greatest targets of renewed religious, ideological, and physical attacks. This situation leads to a number of lesbians and homosexuals hiding their sexual identities in order to meet the required sexual standards of the society.
Gender and communication:
Looking at gender and communication, there are observable communications styles that are distinct. It is generally stereotype that women and girls talk a lot than men. This argument is countered by research conducted on this topic indicating that females and males tend to communicate and talk in equal amounts. The conversations in males are seen as always trying to maintain a certain level of independence and avoid any form of failure. Women on the contrary, approach and perceive the world as an extensive network of connections, their conversations mainly reflecting intimacy, and constantly making negotiations for support, closeness, confirmation, and a consistent search for consensus. In the end, these two worlds of the males and females end up colliding.
The topic of gender and sex continues to be influential in most learning institutions and research related to the same continues to discover a lot of information concerning it.
Suthrell, Charlotte A. Unzipping Gender: Sex, Cross-Dressing and Culture. Oxford: Berg, 2004. Print.