Due to the so-called 'longevity revolution' that began in the second half of the 20th century and to new perceptions of aging in 21st-century, developed societies that have derived from it, aging has become a field of study which attracts more and more researchers from different disciplines. This tendency coincides with the EU's declaration of 2012 as the European Year of Active Aging. However, in spite of the obvious scientific, social, and cultural changes in the aging process, among the general public and in the mass media we continue to observe the perpetuation of prejudices and negative attitudes which affect elderly people and which obstruct a transformation of the aging process into an ‘active’ phase of growth.
Many of the stereotyped perceptions of aging affect, more particularly, elderly women who constitute a major sector of the aging population. In the case of elderly women, age-related prejudices are compounded with those generated by gender inequalities, together with the resulting negative constructs that define sexualities.
As now recognized by other research areas such as gerontology and sociology, literary studies comprise a specialized field of research through which both types of discrimination, ageism and sexism, can be tackled. At the same time, the analysis of literary texts – fictionalized narratives – allows for the development of a new approach to the biological process from its multiple socio-cultural manifestations. However, here in Spain to date, there is a dearth of studies which investigate the way in which aging and gender interact in the literary works of aged women writers. Such studies need to analyse those works of literary creation that lead to the questioning of negative constructs and stereotypes of aging, and to the emphasizing of the heterogeneity that characterizes the experience of aging. With this review of traditional, negative, and homogenizing constructs, an extensive range of representations of aging is opened up, representations that may be extrapolated and propagated within wider sectors of the present-day population.