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Learning to deal with freedom and restraints: Elderly women’s experiences of their husbands visiting a Men’s Shed

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/04/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Australian Journal of Adult Learning
Issue number1
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)76-93
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article explores the effects of activities in Men’s Sheds on elderly women. Specifically, it investigates the opportunities that are made available for women when their husband/partner becomes active in the Men’s Shed movement; focussing on ‘empowerment’, ‘gender identity’ and ‘well-being’. Five focus group interviews and eight individual interviews with elderly women were conducted and subsequently analysed through a content analysis, guided by the concepts of ‘empowerment’, ‘gender-as-performative’ and ‘well-being’. The result indicates that the notions of ‘self-fulfilment’ and ‘self-sacrifice’ are central to understanding how men’s participation in Men’s Sheds has affected elderly women’s empowerment, gender identities, and well-being. When men visit Sheds, it empowers women and offers them a sense of freedom and independence due to the women feeling less concern for their partners and a concomitantly eased bad conscience for leaving the men home alone with nothing to do when the women leave the household to pursue their own activities. Simultaneously, ‘Shedding’ provides new avenues for women to reproduce traditional feminine gender roles where they are primarily responsible for the socio-emotional work within their marriage. This was demonstrated by the women’s extensive engagement by which they, practically and emotionally, prioritised their husbands/partners and their new Shedding experiences.