Faculty Publications

Title

"We do it cuz it's fun": Gendered fun and leisure for midlife women through Red Hat Society membership

Document Type

Article

Keywords

Camp performance, Leisure, Midlife and older women, Voluntary organizations

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Sociological Perspectives

Volume

51

Issue

2

First Page

325

Last Page

348

Abstract

The Red Hat Society (RHS) offers midlife and older women a brief, chosen escape from everyday family, paid, and unpaid work duties. Toying with traditional notions of femininity and aging, the women in this study used a campy performance of gender as embodied in the RHS to both rewrite and reproduce traditional gendered scripts. That is, these midlife and older women enacted elaborate and frivolous alternate feminine identities using their RHS membership as a venue. In doing this, RHS members re-appropriated previously diminishing societal attention and recaptured the heterosexist and ageist male gaze. In their research, the authors found that these older women renegotiated and resisted traditional gender roles through self-defined "fun" activities such as going out in public in hyperfeminine dress and engaging in feminine activities such as lunch, tea, and shopping. RHS members are not fading into the woodwork as society expects of aging women, as they publicly take up leisure space, have fun, and engage in personal leisure that only benefits them. This qualitative work, based on research with seventy study participants, twenty-five individual interviews, and four focus groups with forty-five RHS members, suggests that RHS members use the organization as a site of gendered leisure in pursuit of midlife fun. © 2008 by Pacific Sociological Association.

Original Publication Date

6-1-2008

DOI of published version

10.1525/sop.2008.51.2.325

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