Sunday, January 08, 2006

Seasoned Women


It wasn't until my own book had gone to press that I learned that Gail Sheehy had written about the same subject, and her book would be coming out at the same time as mine. I had no idea, until I saw her title, that the two of us independently had come up with the term "seasoned women" to describe women 60 and older who have a wealth of life experience, self-knowledge, wisdom, sexual zest, and joie de vivre.

In my book, I gave the term "sexually seasoned women" to the women I interviewed, who shared openly and eagerly their past and present sexual experiences and relationships, and their attitudes about life, sex, relationships, and themselves.

At the same time my book was going to press, Gail Sheehy was titling her book Sex and the Seasoned Woman. I hope readers don't think either of us stole the term from the other. In a way it's a startling coincidence, but in another way, of course we'd both come up with that term. It's just right!

An adaptation appears in today's Parade magazine, and while of course I wish my book had been mentioned also, I'm happy that this topic is finally getting the publicity it deserves.

4 comments:

  1. I just saw Gails book mentioned in tonights newspaper and when I looked up info. on it on line I also came across news of your book. I may read both, but I'm looking for yours first.
    I will be 60 later this year and while I am still an attractive woman,(according to my friends)I had not had sex in many years (due to my Dear husbands very long illness.) Now I've been a widow for 2 years and several months ago I began to absolutly LONG for the comfort of romance and love making. I recently met a desirable man, and unlike how I would have thought, or behaved when I was 19, I could hardly wait to get the man into bed, and did so at the first opportunity. It was awkward, but great sex. It had been so long since I'd had intercourse, that I felt like I was an inexperienced virgin again. I felt guilty and ashamed for wanting and enjoying it so much. (I also was very SORE after sex. I did not know that tissue changes occur with age,and no Doctor has ever talked to me about that.) The whole experience left me feeling very perplexed. I had a lot of questions and no one that I felt comfortable taking to about them. "There have got to be other women who are like me" was my feeling, but I did not know where to begin to look for information. I am grateful to you, and to Gail, and to who ever else is out with books such as yours. You have assured me that I am not weird or alone in how I feel, or in wanting information. I suspect now that most of what I may find is what has been published by women, and is for women. Is there any of this sort of information that 60ish men can get? I'm sure that they likely have the same feelings and concerns.
    I do not know If I will ever get together again with my lover, due to distance and job circumstances, but I certainly do know that I do not want that last experience to be the last one of my life.
    Finding a compatible man for this "seasoned woman" is not easy. "Cute", "Nice", "Good Humor," was enough when I was 19, but the criteria has grown considerably from then to now. At 59 I'm looking for the above in addition to so much more, such as life accomplishments, education, and quality of character. The fact is that the ratio of such men to the number of women looking is very low. Wish me luck please.
    "Seasoned" is a good term. It implies much, and is the word that I would have used too. Thank you for letting me know that I'm not a freak, for feeling the way I do, about wanting sex and romance in my life at this "seasoned" age - the youth of my old age. Sincerely, Carrie

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  2. Carrie, I am truly moved by your comments and your openness and sincerity. I think many women will relate to what you said. No, we're not ready for love and sex to be over. Despite the physical challenges -- like the thinning tissues you mention, which I discuss candidly in the book -- we, as you said so well, "long for the comfort of romance and love making." Beautifully said, Carrie.

    I hope you introduce yourself to me if you order an autographed copy directly from me -- and I hope you'll return here to comment further.

    Best wishes for joy in your life,

    Joan

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  3. Dear Joan, I received your book in yesterdays mail and spent some time last night scanning it. I am skocked to discover that "atrophy" can occur and that "use it or lose it" IS TRUE. I go to an MD for my routine PAP tests every year, and NEVER (and I've had different doctors)has any one of them educated me about thinning tissue or dryness. Not one has asked about comfort during sex (well I'd not been having sex for several years). I'm MAD! Isn't this just great! Old enough and wise enough to no longer have to worry about most of the issues of sex out of wedlock, happy to be able to have the opportunity to have a love life again, and I find out that I could be posting an "out of order" or "soon to expire" sign on my panties. (Maybe that is the next humorous/sick thing in His and hers briefs.) I've known that men my age have E.D.,(possibily one out of five) but I did not know that women (my age) could also have their own similar issues( and I am a fairly well educated woman). Now may not be TOO LATE to salvage or repair myself, but I'm Damm Mad that I've been in the dark about it until now. I've recently seen a FEMALE doctor I'll be seeing her again soon. I now know what to ask aboutI'm learning from you.
    When you write the book for Men, how about letting them in on the female problems. I know that men feel very ashamed to admit to having ED. or lack of interest. Maybe when both sexes know the others concerns/problems there can be more compassion and understanding,open talk, and renewed pleasure. I would guess that my guess is right that there are men and women not having sex because they are too embarrassed to talk about their concerns, or wrongly believing that AGE=INABILITY. Sincerely, Carrie

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  4. Carrie, I'm so glad you returned to post again. You made some extremely important points. I'm aware that many doctors, even gynecologists, don't ask their patients about their sexuality or sexual comfort, and they should!

    There are some doctors out there who are tuned in, fortuantely. For example, a gynecologist bought 14 copies of my book to give to her 60+ patients. A man who attended one of my talks bought 3 copies to give to instructors in a medical school who teach gerontology but don't mention elder sexuality.

    It's up to us to let our doctors know that we're not planning to close the gates any time soon!

    Your point about men and women being embarrassed or ashamed to talk to each other about their sexual concerns is another important point. In Better Than I Ever Expected, I got a rousing welcome when I invited women to talk out loud about their experiences and concerns. Now we need to talk to our partners with that degree of candor.

    I love this sentence of yours, Carrie: "Old enough and wise enough to no longer have to worry about most of the issues of sex out of wedlock, happy to be able to have the opportunity to have a love life again, and I find out that I could be posting an "out of order" or "soon to expire" sign on my panties." May I quote you in my workshop?

    Best,
    Joan

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