Laughing off the Stereotypes: Age and Aging in Seniors' Online Sex-Related Humor

Galit Nimrod, Liza Berdychevsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background and Objectives Focusing on sex, the most salient topic featured in ageist jokes, this study aims at exploring the extent to which seniors' own humor reflects common ageist stereotypes or rather echoes contemporary consumer society representations of seniors' sexuality. Research Design and Methods The study was based on a quantitative content analysis of 300 humorous sex-related messages posted during one full year by members of 14 leading online communities for seniors. Results Findings indicated that whereas the portrayal of older adults in humor typically relied on negative ageist stereotypes, their representation in seniors' online sex-related humor depended on the social identity of the butt of this humor. If it was an in-group member (oneself, another community member, or the community as a whole), the portrayal was rather positive, but when the butt belonged to the out-group (older adults in general), the depiction was far more ageist. Nonetheless, the representation of older butts of humor was generally more positive than that of the younger ones. Discussion and Implications These findings suggest that seniors tend to identify with current cultural representations of sexuality in later life and use sex-related humor as a personal means of resisting ageism. They apply two principal strategies: Distancing-reproducing certain ageist stereotypes by ascribing them to other older adults, but less so to their own group and even less than that to themselves-and equalizing older and younger individuals, even according the former an advantage regarding sexuality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)960-969
Number of pages10
JournalGerontologist
Volume58
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 14 2018

Keywords

  • Ageism
  • Old age
  • Online communities
  • Representations
  • Sex-related humor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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