Magnus Nilsson, Jan-Erik Hagberg & Eva Jeppsson Grassman
This study aims to add to knowledge on the relation between ageing and masculinity in society by looking at how older unmarried and childless men in a small Swedish rural community articulate their masculinity in relation to being old. The study is based on interviews with eleven men. An intersectional perspective is used to analyse how age and gender interplay in the self-presentations as well as how their identity is articulated in relation to the rural context. The interviewed men articulate their identity through the use of a logic we call ‘what I have done is who I am’. This reaffirms the rural aspect of their masculine identity as well as the work-centred values of midlife as a reference point in the identity construction in old age when their bodies to a diminishing degree can live up to the physically defined masculinity of the rural context. In this situation, the local rural community is important for the way the men perform both age and masculinity in their daily lives. The men’s place integration can have a mitigating effect as it makes it possible to have their physically defined rural masculinity accepted as the ‘truth’ of who they are. To be known, to have their history known, we argue is central for the resignification of the old, devalued, body as a masculine body. Their continued place integration is a resource in that it can sustain their self-presentation as men defined by their stoic work character and not by their age.