Friday, December 28, 2007

Hurdling the Generation Gap: Talking to Younger People about Senior Sex


I recognize the culturally pervasive “ick factor,” as I call it, in the way the media and most young and even middle-aged folks view the idea of the older generation still having and enjoying sex. I think it’s important to create a respectful dialogue whenever possible, so I’m delighted when a young person contacts me to convey a sincere interest in senior sexuality.

“C4bl3Fl4m3” (see photo), who tells me I can call her “CableFlame,” is 25 years old. She writes,

Human sexuality is my main professional and academic interest, and I'm always particularly interested in parts of sexuality that aren't addressed very much. And one never hears about sex after 50 or after 60. Especially not at my age. Heck they never even mentioned that in my "comprehensive" sex ed class in school. All they teach us is what they think we need to know right then, for sex at the time as a teenager. We're not given the tools we need to make choices as adults or as seniors. Our sexual knowledge needs change as we get older, enter committed relationships, enter into casual sex relationships, get married or enter into a civil or holy union, (some of us) enter into polyamorous relationships, leave our relationships, and generally age.

So I'm interested in sex in general and sex while aging is part of that. I do recognize that just because people get older, they don't stop having sex. It's uncomfortable for a lot of younger people to think about, but it's part of life.

I'm curious what it might be like for me when I get older. I like going into things prepared, and so I'm curious about older sexuality. I'd love to read an article or have you talk some on your blog about kink/BDSM and aging. I'm sure there are plenty of older people who enjoy it (especially as the Baby Boomer kinksters are reaching retirement age) and it would be interesting to see how it's the same and different for them, both in terms of desire and in terms of what's physically safe and what has to change.

I welcome your comments about CableFlame’s questions, and I’d also like to know what you’d like young adults to understand about senior sexuality. It's up to us to talk out loud about our attitudes, if not our activities, if we're going to make a dent in the sound barrier surrounding older-age sex!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Book Review: For Keeps: Women Tell the Truth About Their Bodies, Growing Older, and Acceptance

When I received my copy of For Keeps: Women Tell the Truth About Their Bodies, Growing Older, and Acceptance, I turned first to my own contribution, "Making Joy and Love in Seasoned Bodies." I found myself moved by my own story of the two devastating automobile accidents that left me with crippling injuries, my fight to reclaim my life and my love of dance, and how my love story with Robert interweaves with my celebration of health and joy.

Then I read every other essay in the book, thrilled by the psychological and social insight in these memoirs and the high literary quality of the collection. Kudos to editor Victoria Zackheim, who hand-picked each writer and edited each essay superbly.

The theme is how women see their bodies, their perspectives shaped by aging, mothers, partners, cancer, injuries, society, and their own obsessions about body image. Each essay is wrenched from the hearts and guts of their authors. The stories are new, yet familiar, because as women, we have experienced them personally or through our friends: a hypercritical mother whom we still try to please; saying goodbye to breasts; facing a loved one's death; learning to love our bellies; striving for resiliency as we confront our aging. The stories are moving, inspiring, downright riveting.

I am proud to be a part of this exciting book. I recommend it for your holiday gift-giving, and for yourself.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Julia from Alabama: “You can’t have my rights, I’m still using them!"

Julia Carter is a frequent reader of this blog. She offered to find out just how the new Alabama law prohibiting the sale of sex toys affects a woman intent on buying one. So she visited two Alabama shops specializing in items for erotic pleasure (see? I'm resisting calling them "sex-toy shops" because such products are against the law) to investigate on behalf of all Alabamans seeking sexual freedom. Here's her report:

As it says in Marty Klein’s excellent article, the Alabama legislature has recently passed a law prohibiting the sale of sex toys in this state. Wanting to find out first hand what this actually means to local consumers, I decided to stop in at one of our stores.

I visited a shop called “Pleasures” for two reasons, one is they have the most extensive selection of any retail store in this area, the other being that the owner of this shop, Sherri Williams, challenged the proposed law in court, filing numerous appeals against the state, including an appeal to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately the courts refused to hear her last appeal, so it is now illegal to sell sex toys or dildos in the state of Alabama.

I was immediately greeted by a nice young woman, who then asked to see my ID. “Hmm,” I thought, “I’m 55 and I’m being carded, this is cool,” although I’m sure this is standard procedure for everyone who comes in to the shop. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The store looked about the same, with all the same merchandise as before. In front, where it can be seen by anyone passing by, including children, is a whole array of lingerie. Nothing directly sexually suggestive, so if I had kids I wouldn’t mind them seeing this. In the back part of the store where they used to keep their huge variety of sex toys, are the enormous variety of “novelty items” which are now sold for medical, scientific, and educational purposes, or to be used at a party for something such as a "cake topper."

Since I think lots of orgasms are good for my health, I was pleased to see that all the same medical devices I’ve been used to being able to purchase were still there, with even a few new additions, though I suggested that they might get into trouble calling things medical devices.

I told the salesperson I was there to find out how the new law was panning out, and to see what they could still sell.

We chatted for a bit and giggled about the day the Supreme Court refused to hear Sherri’s appeal and the city lit up our big rocket, part of Huntsville’s famous Space and Rocket Center, with hot pink lights in honor of the first day of breast cancer awareness month, not realizing that these two stories would both be on the evening news.

Then she showed me some of their new items which are especially woman-friendly, with shapes to fit the contours of the female body. Although there were some products with labels saying they were for medical use only, most of the products on the racks have a sticker on them that says “SOLD AS A NOVELTY ONLY” followed by smaller print saying not to use it on inflamed tissue, skin eruptions, or unexplained calf pain, and that they are not suggested for penetration of body openings.

I asked if customers would have to sign a waiver if making a purchase, and we do. This is what it says:

“All products which may be subject to the restrictions imposed by code of Alabama sections 13A-12-200.2 and 13A-12-20.3 are displayed at Pleasures for bona fide educational purposes only so that our customers may make informed medical, scientific and educational decisions with respect to the type of products displayed.

“No such product is offered for sale in this store. You may offer to purchase such a product, but by asking to purchase an item you represent and warrant that your purchase and any resulting sale of the product is for a bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative or judicial purpose. In her/his sole discretion, any employee of Pleasures may refuse to accept such an offer to purchase.

“No exceptions will be made to this policy.

(The fourth paragraph is a standard medical disclaimer.)

“Alabama State Law does not prohibit the possession of an adult toy. Nothing sold in this store is prohibited by law.”

Paragraph two of the disclaimer says, in other words, that if a customer comes in asking to buy a sex toy or a dildo, they will be told that the store does not sell sex toys or dildos, and can be asked to leave.

I bought a medical device, a new bullet (mine’s about to wear out) and an educational device, an intriguing looking sleeve for the bullet that has a g-spot attachment that I’ve never seen before, paid my $16.50, and signed the document.

Since one day we could have a class action lawsuit against the state I guess I also bought these items for “legal and judicial purposes.”

The next day I called another local store, Naughty and Spice, which carries a similar array of lingerie and “novelty items.” (I like their lingerie because they have fishnet tights which fit well over bigger legs and are very durable.) They told me their policy was similar to the one at Pleasures, and that no one from the state had come into the store to tell them to take the novelty toys off the shelves. They are planning to open a second store just across the state line in Tennessee, about a 30 minute drive from here.

Since most people don’t have this new information, I decided to do a public service announcement at our pub’s open mic night. “It is now illegal to sell sex toys in Alabama. This law was challenged several times, and we gave it the good fight, but we lost. If you go into a store asking for sex toys or dildos they’ll tell you they don’t sell these items and can ask you to leave. However you can still buy novelty items . . . ”

This helped the bartender out a lot, because it was near closing time and all the people he would normally have to ask to leave, several times usually, left on their own in a big hurry. Most of them were youngish guys, a few with girlfriends in tow, who seemed to still think those anatomically correct pleasuring devices are competition for them. If you ask me this is one of the major underlying attitudes behind making it illegal to sell these things. Hopefully they -- and our state legislators -- will gain more self esteem and emotional maturity in the future.

Some of my younger women friends have tiny stickers which say “you can have my sex toy when you pry it from my cold dead . . . .” I don’t like the negative tone of this one and thought about instead putting one of my worn out silver bullets in the back window of my car with my new bumper sticker that says “No you can’t have my rights, I’m still using them,” but decided this wouldn’t be in very good taste.

I’ve been laughing and joking about all this, and I still have access to my toys, but I deeply resent the fact that once again a bunch of de-sexed, mostly male authority figures are attempting to interfere with our sexual freedom. The sex toy law is not all that different from our state laws forbidding legally recognized partnerships of homosexuals, and the national laws that some are attempting to pass making abortion and maybe even contraception illegal. All of these are efforts to limit and control our splendidly varied erotic expression.


Thank you, Julia, for this terrific report! Comments, anyone? -- Joan

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Marty Klein on Alabama anti-sex-toy law

Alabama has declared war on sex toys, and whether or not we live in that state, we need to heed the warning that our sexual rights are under attack. Dr. Marty Klein, author of America's War On Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust & Liberty, recently wrote a powerful article about this issue. I asked his permission to excerpt it here:


Supreme Court Silences Alabama's Vibrators

The U.S.Supreme Court has declined to review the Alabama law criminalizing the sale of sex toys.

For nine years, the law has been in and out of District, Appeals, and Federal courts (issues 9, 33, 39). The ACLU had asked the Supreme Court to review Alabama's right to control products perceived to threaten the moral health of their users and the public. Six states currently have various restrictions on sex toys.

Alabama controls the sale of sex toys because the legislature believes they promote a "prurient interest in autonomous sex" through "the pursuit of orgasms by artificial means." Actually, I totally agree with that. But where legislatures and courts may find this dangerous, I find it life-affirming, healthy, and good clean fun.

In fact, it raises an interesting question--how do we define "artificial" and "non-artificial" orgasms? Penis = natural, while fingers = artificial? Non-intercourse sex was criminalized in America for over a century precisely because it was considered "unnatural." That's why the right to sodomy is such a big deal, whether you do it or not-because it overturns the paradigm that divides sexual behavior into "natural" and "unnatural." The problem isn't that the wrong things are put into these categories--it's that the categories exist.

The Alabama law allows people to buy sexual devices with a "bona fide medical purpose." If we wish, we could list the medical benefits of virtually every sex toy:
* Dildo: strengthens pelvic floor muscles, especially after childbirth
* Butt plug: helps men ejaculate, increasing fertility
* Cock ring: helps men last longer, facilitating intercourse, increasing fertility
* Vibrator: helps prevent atrophy of vaginal tissue after hysterectomy or menopause; also reduces menstrual cramps

But why should we have to do this? It's demeaning to pretend that sex toys are like flu shots, dental floss or laxatives--of interest only to promote our health, and used grudgingly at best.

In Alabama, you can buy a gun but not a vibrator. Why do they feel the second is more dangerous than the first?

We can laugh, but this extraordinary erosion of personal liberty, coupled with the massive disrespect and fear of sexuality, is no joke. We really are living through a War On Sex. The Supreme Court has declared our orgasms a battlefield, and sex toys are another casualty.


Dr. Marty Klein is a licensed marriage counselor, certified sex therapist, and author of America's War On Sex: The Attack on Law, Lust & Liberty. Visit his Sexual Intelligence blog.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Express Your Sexuality Vertically – Dance!


    Dancing is a magnificent celebration of eroticism. I recommend it whether you're in a relationship or flying solo. Dancing is all about celebrating our bodies, expressing ourselves nonverbally, letting our souls soar through our moving bodies. Dancing is sexy-- as George Bernard Shaw said, dance is "a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire."

Dancing is also an erotic form of communication with a partner, with many partners, or with ourselves -- letting the lift of an arm, the swing of a leg, or the roll of a hip communicate a much more complex and subtle language than words.

Robert and I met in the line dance class I teach, and we've been dancing together ever since. When Robert and I dance, whether we're line dancing separately, across the room from each other, or in a close embrace in a romantic dance, we're aware of our own and each other's body moving expressively, sending each other messages. We entice, seduce, sometimes just entertain each other with our vertical body language. We're lucky enough to dance together regularly--we teach a line dance class together, and practice together for fun.

If you're single, whether or not you're looking for a sexual partner, the need to be touched is basic to humans. Dance is a safe, even dignified way to get your touching without pursuing intimacy. You'll hold a stranger (or a series of strangers) safely at a distance in "dance position" and learn moves together. You won't need to admit out loud how enjoyable it is to settle into the arms of a temporary partner and respond with your body.

During dry spells between relationships in my past, I would joke with a male friend that dancing was my whole sex life. Indeed, it felt like that: being held in a man's arms, agreeing tacitly to follow wherever and whatever he led (so different from the rest of the way I run my life!), making eye contact--sometimes sensually, sometimes playfully, sometimes just acknowledging the cool dance moves--then saying "thank you" after three minutes and moving on to someone else. Thank goodness for dance!

With the popularity of television shows like Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, you may think you have to be skilled, disciplined, and committed to perfection to succeed. Not so! Dance is about self-expression and freeing the natural dancer in all of us. It's not about judges or weekly eliminations. And you don't have to be gorgeous or a star hoofer to attract partners – just be friendly and enjoy yourself and your partners.

If you've thought that you're too old to learn to dance, you're wrong. In my line dance class, for example, dancers in their seventies enjoy rolling their hips and strutting their stuff alongside dancers in their twenties, and it's the same in every social dance class I attend. There's a special kinship, I think, among older dancers – we love and acknowledge the vibrant physicality of it, we feel graceful and handsome, and we enjoy each other with warmth and joy.

If dancing isn't a part of your life, I highly recommend it. It adds a dimension of self-expression, body appreciation, and sensuality to the way we live our lives. And it's so much fun! Just about every community offers dance lessons: ballroom, swing, Latin, nightclub, country-western, and more. To find places to dance, search "dance" (or the specific type of dance you want) plus your city or county on the Internet, look at the calendar listings in your newspaper, and find local dance studios, rec centers, and health clubs in your Yellow Pages.


 

 

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tom, 55, “My wife had her first orgasm in six years”

Tom, age 55, wrote me a beautiful account of how he and his wife rediscovered their intimacy and sexual pleasure after a combination of health issues and medications left his wife unable to have orgasms. She was taking blood pressure medicine and antidepressants, and had stopped hormone replacement therapy. Tom had his own health issues, including low metabolism and testosterone levels. Combined with his wife's lack of lubrication, decreased sensation, and anxiety, "our sex life seemed to be drying up."

We slowly reached the point where we decided we needed to fix the situation. We started taking more time in our lovemaking and trying different lubricants, and that did work much better for us. I also bought your book Better Than I ever Expected, and it has been very helpful.

However, I found that when we had romantic weekends, I would occasionally have problems maintaining my erection. That had never happened before and was really stressful, so I now use Levitra to have confidence that I can be erect. The effects of Levitra seem to linger, so I don't feel like I need to take it right before lovemaking. I can take it anywhere from one to 12 hours ahead of time and it still works for me.

Unfortunately, no amount of foreplay, oral or manual stimulation was able to bring about an orgasm in my wife. This was really frustrating to me, since I felt that our lovemaking was too one-sided. I think it maybe bothered me more than my wife. In the past, I was very good at knowing her body and her response and I could bring about very nice orgasms by a combination of oral and manual massaging. 

So, after reading your book, and doing some additional reading and research, I spent $225 on an Eroscillator. We had never experimented with sex toys, so I wanted to get something that looked like it would be effective, and this seemed to have the recommendations and documentation to back it up.

What a difference! The first time we tried it, we spent some time together getting warmed up, and I used the soft fingertip attachment on her. My wife had her first orgasm in six years within just a few minutes, and she cried in my arms afterwards. This has made a huge difference in our lovemaking, and my wife now has very strong orgasms.

We are still trying to figure out the best way to work it into our lovemaking, we had never used any vibrators or sex toys before. I love it because I now can be sure that I can please her, and I want her to be able to come first. I like it because it is nearly silent, and very effective.
"soft fingertip"

Thank you, Tom, for your candor and for the details that will help other people in the same situation. As you know, I've been a fan of the Eroscillator (the soft fingertip attachment is my favorite, too!), and I found my own eyes starting to water when I read about your wife crying in your arms after her first orgasm in six years. As for how to work it into your lovemaking, the woman can hold it and use it for clitoral stimulation while her partner is caressing and arousing her manually, and she can also use it during intercourse, depending on the position.

"What would you tell others in your situation?" I asked Tom.

I would just tell others that there are ways to make things better. Talking with doctors and counselors can help, but I think that the familiarity of their doctors with sexual issues may be lacking, so specialists may be needed. I do know from personal experience how difficult it is to go to a doctor and ask for help on sexual matters. Requesting a prescription for Levitra was a very tough thing to do, so I can imagine that talking about more difficult issues can be very hard.

Fortunately, with some effort, the Internet can be a good source for information. That (Amazon.com) is where I learned about your book and blog, and I also picked up Dr. Ruth's book. I also used it to search for different lubricants to try and learn about the Eroscillator. Especially for people who are not in a major city the Internet is a great tool.

Learn more about the Eroscillator:

Advanced Response

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Woman-friendly sex shops

A reader wrote to me:

You suggest that men and women shop together at sex shops. We would like to do that, but in the edition of your book that we have, there are no suggestions for Maryland and Washington DC. Have you information that has come to you for sex shops in those areas (and northern Va.) since the book was published? If so, please send them to me. We would like to visit them.

Good question! I don't know of a store in that area, but I'll open the question to my readers here. I list woman-friendly sex shops in Better Than I Ever Expected, and am updating my list for the new book. If any of you have a favorite shop to recommend, either in the Maryland/Washington, DC area for this reader or anywhere (in the world!) for other readers, please comment or email me the name of the store, location, website, and what you like about the store. I'll add yours to my list as well as post them here.

When I say "woman-friendly sex shop," I mean a store that sells sex toys and other tools and props that enhance sexual pleaure, emphasizes friendliness and education, is bright and welcoming to both singles of either gender and couples, and has well-trained staff that can answer questions straightforwardly and non-judgmentally.

I had the pleasure of speaking at several of these stores when Better Than I Ever Expected came out: Good Vibrations in San Francisco and Berkeley; A Woman's Touch in Madison and Milwaukee; Venus Envy in Ontario, Canada; Babeland in New York City; Pleasures of the Heart in San Rafael, CA; and Early to Bed in Chicago. And The Rubber Rose in San Diego has invited me to speak when I'm in the area.

Which stores do you love, and why?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cory Silverberg: Sex blogs to vibrators

Every time I revisit Cory Silverberg's sexuality guide at About.com, I'm impressed by the amount of dynamic, useful information. Cory's section about senior sexuality includes links to articles he has written about aging and sexual satisfaction, HIV and the older adult, erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, Kegel exercises (with instructions for both men and women), and more.

Silverberg is a certified sex educator, co-founder of Come As You Are, and co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability. He helps Sue Johanson select the sex toys that she reviews on her TV program, Talk Sex with Sue. I can't resist telling you that Johanson gave a splendid mini-review of my book on April 15, 2007:

Sexual activity changes as we age, but that does signal the death of pleasure. BETTER THAN I EVER EXPECTED by Joan Price is a fabulous book about sex after 60 that is aimed primarily at females. If you have been brain-washed into thinking sex is only for the young, this is the book for you. Get a copy for yourself or for your parents. They will thank you.

In other sections of Silverberg's comprehensive sexuality site, he discusses everything from sex blogs to vibrators. Take a look!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ellen Goodman: "60 is the new 60"


I loved Ellen Goodman's "Second Acts" column today about the Boomer generation. She wrote:

Baby boomers are the first generation that can look forward to such a lengthy and (fingers crossed) healthy stage of later life. They are as likely to be talking about what they want to do next as about where they want to retire. Never mind all those declarations that 60 is the new 40. In fact, 60 is the new 60.

"60 is the new 60"! So often the media stereotypes us as a generation trying to recapture youth with every decision, activity, and cosmetics purchase. Most of us, though, aren't trying to pretend we're not aging -- rather, we're applying our experience and the wisdom that comes with it to new endeavors, new life decisions, new causes. As Goodman says, we're reinventing this stage of life.

This applies to our sexuality, too. If we look deeply, we realize we can't recapture sex as it was at 40 -- but it can be something better! Sex at 60 (or 70, or 80) includes so much more self-knowledge, communications skill, and acceptance of ourselves and our partners than we had at 40. This emotional growth lets us adapt to and overcome the physical challenges. I could go on and on (and I already did, in Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty), but I'll pause because I'd like to hear what you have to say about this topic.

Where are hot tips for solo sex?

Another reader has taken me to task for my neglect of solo sex in my posts. She wrote this as a comment on "10 Tips for Hot Sex after Sixty":

These are great ideas, but once again the presumption that “hot sex” is for couples only is very apparent.

I don’t think it’s very realistic or fair to imply that when we’re over 60 we’ll of course have, or necessarily even want, a partner. In fact it’s not realistic or fair to assume this about people of any age.

The article doesn’t specify whether the couple is a man and woman, or two people of the same gender, which is good. I think it would mean a lot to readers who don’t have partners if another article followed this one with hot tips for solo sex, emphasizing how good that can be too.

This article could more accurately be called “Hot Tips for Couples Over 60.” Then it wouldn’t be supporting the Western cultural misconception that good sex is only about pairs of humans.


OK, I'm working on my “Hot Solo Sex Tips for Singles Over 60” now. Stay tuned -- and feel free to contribute your own!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Do orgasms feel the same as when we were younger?

Kat, age 51, has this question for all of you:

Do orgasms feel the same at 75 as they did at 55? Is the pleasure still there? Are the orgasms as intense? If not, do you miss them, or did they taper off so slowly that it seems OK?


Personally, at almost 64, my orgasms take much longer to arrive than they did before menopause, but I can still count on them, with the right stimulation. No, they don't feel quite the same -- they don't build with the same intensity, but when the waves crash, they crash splendidly. And the afterglow is just as satisfying as ever!

Hmmm, do I miss the way they used to feel? The change was gradual, and I'm grateful that I feel as much as I do! It's not the orgasm itself that's really different as much as the journey getting there, which often feels more like an emotional trip to bliss than strictly physiological.

I'd love to hear from both women and men on this topic, especially (but not only) those of you 75 and up.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Peter: "We want emotional connection as much as women do"

Peter is a reader who has written thoughtful comments in the past. I found his latest email so interesting that I'm posting it here, for your comments:

I was struck by the hostility from "Jeane," and pleased by your response, characterizing it as "anti-male". It certainly was. I've been playing the personals for a while and have been struck by the sexism that exists even here in the center of gender enlightenment (San Francisco).

When people can hide behind the anonymity of the internet, a lot of heartfelt feelings are exposed, and some of them are bitter. I understand that sexism against women is as old as recorded history, and that men need to come to terms with resentment that will inevitably be released in forums in which face to face contact exists, and much more in forums where the discomfort of a personal retort is absent. I'm prepared for that, and make a point of identifying myself as a feminist in my responses, but still am distressed by the hostility of the type I read from Jeanne.

If there is any message you can convey to older women through your forum, please tell them that many men are trying hard to get past this barrier to male-female relations that an oppressive culture imposes, but it's a two way street and we must get encouragement, not dismissal, when we make that honest effort.

My experience in internet dating - or attempts at it - is that many women begin with a chip on their shoulders, posting ads that lead with "where are the good men," "are there any good men left," "don't bother if you're (fill in the blank)," or disclaimers about not being there for casual sex.

The theme seems to be that men are presumed to be lurking on a romantic website for a quick lay. The reality is that men and women have a different biology, and that becomes very apparent at menopause. We know that, and to assume a man in his fifties, trying to connect with a woman his age, is ignorant of or impatient to the need to be considerate of those facts is condescending. We want emotional connection as much as women do, will do what's necessary to get it, including working with her around sexual issues.

But women need to give us a chance, not assume we will think less of them because we have changed in different ways and at different rates. We want you, ladies. We're ready to try.

Let's hear from both women and men about this issue. I challenge you to express yourself without stereotpying the other gender. The way to tear down barriers is one honest communication at a time.

We're listening....

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Robert Rice's art and choreography


Many of you know my wonderful husband, Robert Rice (yes, our last names are different by one letter), from reading our love story in Better Than I Ever Expected and seeing our marriage announcement on this blog. Robert is an artist, I'd love to introduce you to his work as showcased on his new website and virtual gallery.

Those of you who read Better Than I Ever Expected know that we met in my line dance class. He is an accomplished dancer and choreographer, and "Groovin' on a Feeling," one of the line dances he choreographed, is on YouTube here. Enjoy!

Photo of Robert Rice by Genevieve Barnhart

Leap! by Sara Davidson

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Leap! What Will We Do with the Rest of Our Lives by Sara Davidson. Davidson reflects on aging, sex, love, bodies, career, community,spirituality, and world view and interviews dozens of other Boomers about their lives and views.

Many of her interviewees were well known during when the older Boomers were coming of age, such as Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, Paul Krassner, Carly Simon, Gloria Steinem, Cheryl Tiegs, Ram Dass, and Andrew Weil. Others lived less in the public eye, but contributed vitally to the arts, healthcare, spirituality,and education.The insights -- both Davidson's own and those of her interviewees -- are thought provoking and fascinating.

"The Second Sexual Revolution," the chapter about "sex in the master years," is funny, real, and poignant. "How can sex feel more intense and expansive at this time than when we had raging hormones and oculd climax without effort?" she asks. "I would assert that we've become more complex, richened with sorrow and joy, and that there's more to us -- we bring more, release more, savor more."

Some people have criticized the book for being too much about celebrities and too little that applies to rest of us. I disagree. Learning how the people who helped to shape our world view decades ago are doing now, what they're thinking, how they look back and forward, how they cope with their own aging in a world that, in most cases, has moved past their contributions, is fascinating and valuable.

Elder sex on HBO's Tell Me You Love Me


Are you watching Tell Me You Love Me on HBO? As I've written before, I'm thrilled by the show's portrayal of elder sex (Jane Alexander and David Selby). In the latest episode, the couple in their seventies had face-nuzzling, tender, slow sex in a chair (we know the husband has a bad back -- a nice, realistic touch! -- and maybe that's a comfortable position for him), and she had what might be television's first elder female orgasm.

After all I've written and ranted about the media never portraying an older couple having joyful, affectionate sex (without treating it as ludicrous and icky), I'm happily eating my words. Thank you, HBO.

I'm finding the age angle of the show so interesting! The older couple is the only one having gentle, loving, uncomplicated sex, while the youngest are so driven and -- it seems -- angry that the guy never even gets his pants past his ankles. At least Jamie (the young woman) stops long enough to reach for a condom!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Man asks "Do women fantasize during sex?"

Larry, age 70, wrote me that he used to be a swinger, but settled into monogamy because his wife would not have agreed to the swinging lifestyle. He satisfies his desire for variety through fantasy while self-pleasuring.

Larry wonders whether women fantasize while they're having sex, either with a partner or solo. "Who do they fantasy about (a) old lovers, (b) movie stars or (c) someone that they would just like to have sex with?" Larry asks.

Any women want to respond?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Talking about condoms with a new partner

Some of my women readers, newly in the dating game after divorce or death of a spouse, tell me that they feel uncomfortable asking a new partner to use a condom. "If I ask a man to use a condom, it sounds like I don't trust him," they say. "If I have them on hand myself, he'll think I sleep around."

My belief is that if you can't talk about safer sex with someone, you really shouldn't be inviting that person to be an intimate partner! But I know it's hard, especially if you've been in a long-term relationship and suddenly find yourself out in that scary world of dating, sex with new partners, and the risks that weren't a part of our zesty youth.

I recommend never waiting until the heat of passion to bring up the subject. Instead, when the sparks and kisses signal that sex is likely in your future, have the discussion. Then you've agreed to be prepared when you're ready for the next stage.

In my single past, these were some useful ways to approach the subject:

"I always use condoms with a new partner to protect us both."

"I'll buy the condoms -- do you prefer a special kind?

"Your condoms or mine?"


I've had occasions when a man refused, saying something like, "Sex with condoms interferes with my enjoyment."

I would reply, "Is no sex more enjoyable?"

At this point, of course, I knew the date was over, and I was glad to know in advance that he didn't value my sexual health or his own. If he was willing to go to bed with me without protection, then he did that with his last partners, and they did it with their last partners, and so on.

I don't claim that I used a condom with everyone all the time when I was single. In my younger days, the STDs we were likely to contract were either visible or could be cured with a prescription drug. But I got smarter with age, and became more demanding of barrier protection. If I knew someone well already, someone who had become a good friend, and I knew about his relationships and his sexual health status, we would get blood tests, and then feel comfortable about condomless sex. But that took deep discussions and friendship.

Let me hear from you -- what do/would you say to bring up the subject of condom use?

(photo of Miriam Schuler, known as "Condom Grandma" in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she volunteers in the Senior HIV Intervention Project.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Irritated reader: Why no"Sex for One" info here?

Gratitude, a frequent comment contributor, said this in a comment on another post, and it was a valuable wake-up call to me:

I find myself irritated once again at the prejudice of this blog in favor of couples. Versions of this statement, “Sex is two minds, two bodies, and two hearts making love....” have been repeated and implied over and over in the articles here. While this may be true for many or even most people, the message comes across loud and clear: Sex is for couples only.

I have just searched the archives and don’t find one single post on this website dealing specifically with sex for one and how this can be a way of expressing love for yourself.

I'm surprised at myself for this omission, and I'd like to assure Gratitude (and the rest of you) that I'm absolutely in favor of "sex for one," and I've written about solo sex extensively in Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex after Sixty, with chapters on staying sensual and sexy without a partner, choosing and enjoying sex toys, and maintaining vaginal health. I apologize for the absence of this message here so far!

In the next book, in fact, I have stories from a number of women who are enjoying staying sensual and satisfied without a partner and are willing to describe how they stay zesty. (The single men I hear from are not so satisfied with being unpartnered.)

I'll write more about this in a later post -- for now, I hope you'll enjoy Better Than I Ever Expected and continue to comment and email me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Faking Orgasm: Why?

I've been reading Flings, Frolics, and Forever Afters: A Single Woman’s Guide to Romance after Fifty by Katherine E. Chaddock & Emilie Chaddock Egan (Ten Speed Press, 2005). This self-help action plan for finding romance gives advice applicable to singles of any age who want to enter (or re-enter) the dating scene, with just a few tips specifically targeted to our age group, such as getting your adult children to accept that you’re dating again.

Though the section on sex is only one chapter, it's a long chapter, and very specific, including the need for safer sex. Most of the advice is okay -- though of course not as splendid as in Better Than I Ever Expected -- but I really didn’t like the command to “have an orgasm: real or fake” and the explanation that it’s harmless and "it will make him feel great." I don't think so! What man would feel great knowing his partner just faked an orgasm? Oh, I forgot -- the point is that he wouldn't know. That's so manipulative that I shudder. And how would it help your future sex life, if he thinks he's figured out how to set off your personal fireworks and will keep repeating a technique that actually didn't do it for you?

I also didn't like the suggestion to sneak off to the bathroom to apply a lubricant. "You want him to think you are juiced because of him, not because of a gel in a tube." Boo. There's nothing to be ashamed of if we no longer lubricate freely, if our hormonally deprived bodies don't match our emotional juiciness. Make applying a lubricant part of the love play and ask your partner to do it for you, and it can be very sexy. Each time one of you reaches for the bottle of Liquid Silk, you both know what's about to happen. So much sexier than running into the bathroom and returning suddenly (and artificially) moist!

Here's the bottom line, as far as I'm concerned: If you can’t communicate honestly with a partner what you need for comfortable, pleasurable sex and what you need to reach orgasm, what are you doing in bed with this person?

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

73-yr-old man pleases wife with "ten fingers and a tongue"

A reader who wants to call himself "Buttonbob" sent me this email:

I am a 73 year old male. For the past few years I have been using Viagra. I must confess that most of the time it didn't do the trick. But an old friend of mine reminded me that I had ten fingers and a tongue.

I found to my surprise that my lady didn't need intercourse and was more than happy to settle for hugging and oral touching and caressing. Once over the shock I discovered I began to enjoy the touching and caressing even more, My advice to others is get over the idea that intercourse is the end all. Enjoy your close relationship with your spouse that touching and hugging can give.


This is a subject that comes up over and over. Many men think that intercourse is the goal of sex, and that if they have erectile difficulties, they might as well give it up. Not true! Sex is two minds, two bodies, and two hearts making love -- not just two sets of genitals! There are many ways to please a partner without intercourse, and this reader is right on track with "ten fingers and a tongue"!

I welcome your comments.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Looking for "Granny Sex"?

OK, I have to ask you -- if you arrived at this site because you typed "granny sex" into your search engine, what were you hoping or expecting to find? I'm sincerely curious! Were you hoping to find an affirmation of older-age sexuality? (if so, you're in the right place!) Or did you use those search words because you're intrigued by what your grandmother might be doing behind closed doors? Or because you expect to get a giggle from a site that makes fun of elder sex? I'm just wondering... I hope you'll comment!

If you're wondering why I'm asking this, it turns out that many people arrive here because they searched "granny sex." Far more of you search by "sexy seniors" or "senior sex" or "sex after sixty," and that makes sense. But this "granny sex" idea puzzles me, and I hope you'll respond! (You can either click "comments" below or email me, your choice.

2/6/08 update: As readers continue to use "granny sex" in emails to me and comments on this blog, as well as the search words that bring you here, I've come to understand that the term is not meant disrespectfully. In fact, a few of you have written me using "granny sex" quite lovingly. Is this term used outside the US more commonly than it is here, I wonder...?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lock Up Our Genitals: Security Device for (Female) Sexual Organs


Just when I thought (a) I'd seen it all and (b) we were making social progress, I happen upon a site showing the application for a patent for "Security Underwear Device for Sexual Organs." A new take on the old chastity belt, this is a "sexual armor" device that covers the female genitalia and anus (with openings just large enough to permit excretion) to prevent rape and the spread of AIDs and other STDs. The key or combination is not given to the wearer, so that she can't be coerced to give it to the rapist or opportunist. Oh, dear.

August 2009 update: I've discovered that X-ratedpatents.com is no longer a live link, so I've removed it.

HBO Tell Me You Love Me is Senior-Sex Positive!


Tell Me You Love Me has the media abuzz this week, mainly because the new HBO series bares it all with graphic sex. I'm applauding because -- at least in episode #1 -- it shows the most positive portrayal of seniors in love and having good sex that I've seen on television.

As an advocate for older-age sexuality, I'm thrilled by the portrayal of the older couple, therapist Dr. May Foster (Jane Alexander) and her husband Arthur (David Selby). Both are handsome people, but realistically handsome, without Botox-paralyzed facial muscles or taut facelifted cheekbones. These are real people, beautiful specimens of age 60+, to be sure, but so much more realistic than the aged (and not so aged) Hollywood and TV stars whose faces barely move. How refreshing!

The younger couples in the show are frenetic in their dialogue and sex play, while the oldest couple is gentle, knowing, connecting in a special way, both sexually and in daily life. When Alexander gently removes Selby's book from his hands and edges down his body to arouse him with oral sex, I cheered.

I hope the writers don't mess with this positive message that sex and relationships get better with age.

Did you see this show? How do you feel about it?

Added 9/18/07: Now that I've watched three episodes, I'm disappointed in this show. I still love that the 60+-yr-old therapist and her husband have such a loving and sexy relationship, but the other couples are so strident and unpleasant (especially to each other!) that I feel let down by the writers. They have problems in their relationships, we got the point -- do we have to keep reliving this with them without any progress?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Intimacy after prostate surgery



Several readers have posted and emailed me about sex and intimacy after prostate surgery. I asked Anne Katz , RN PhD, author of Breaking the Silence on Cancer and Sexuality: A Handbook for Health Care Providers and sexuality counselor at CancerCare Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to respond to a common question:


Ever since my husband had his prostate removed because of prostate cancer, he has been reluctant to touch me. This is so upsetting. I love him very much and don’t know what to do.

It is common for men to be unable to have an erection after this surgery. Depending on the type of surgery (nerve sparing or not), his ability to have erections may or may not return. Many men are deeply distressed by this and may avoid all physical contact with their partner so as not to “lead them on” or disappoint them. This leads to a very unhappy partner who wants to express his/her love and support but feels cut off and cut out.

What is important is for the couple to TALK. It is often really difficult to talk about a sensitive topic when emotions are running high. But talking goes a long way to healing and connecting. Start with an “I” statement: “I miss touching you and being touched by you. How can we reconnect again?” Or perhaps: “I love you so much and want our relationship to be the way it was before the surgery. What can WE do to help this happen?”

While there are medications and treatments that may help, further treatment should be a couple’s decision and the man should always include his partner in medical appointments so that both people can express themselves and have their questions answered. Because communication is so important, the couple may need professional help to start the communication flowing. But seeking help is the first step.


For more posts about cancer and sexuality, please click "cancer" in the "labels" list in the right-hand column.

Is this helpful? Let me know what questions you'd like me to explore as we age and encounter physical and emotional challenges to our sexuality.

--Joan

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tips for reclaiming sexuality after a health event

Many readers have reported concerns about how to reclaim their sexuality after a heart attack, cancer, or other health event. I asked licensed psychologist and sex therapist Stephanie Buehler, Psy.D., to provide some tips for the new book I'm writing. Her information was so valuable that I didn't want you to have to wait for the book:

1. Speak to your physician about when you can resume sex and what kinds of limitations you might expect or need to work around. If you are uncomfortable talking about it with the physician, perhaps you can bring it up to the nurse. Nurses are often interested in helping patients achieve an optimal quality of life, and are trained to educate patients as well.

2. If neither your physician nor the nurse is sexually savvy, then contact whatever organization is associated with your disease. For example, both the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society publish booklets on sexuality and illness.

3. Broaden your ideas about what constitutes “sex” after an illness event. Sex is more than intercourse. Count holding hands and cuddling as sex, and you and your partner might feel less disappointed or glum.

4. If you are the person affected with a health problem, don’t conclude that if your partner isn’t bringing up sex, it is no longer important. Your partner may not want to intrude or make demands and is waiting for a sign of readiness from you.

5. If you are the partner of the person with a health problem, accompany your partner to a physician’s visit to discuss sexual effects of any surgery or treatment. Educate yourself so that you can be a support to your partner, and so that you and your partner can discuss how to go forward.

6. If you had sexual problems before the illness event, now might be a good opportunity to address them. It may be that your health problem contributed to your sexual problem. Again, discuss this with your physician or nurse.

7. If you are having trouble resuming satisfying sexual activity, consider seeing a sex therapist. A sex therapist can help you identify obstacles and give you information and suggestions. Sometimes there can be deeper problems, like facing the fact that you are not invincible, that can also be addressed with a therapist.

Stephanie Buehler, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist and sex therapist, and Director of The Buehler Institute in Irvine, California. Visit her blog about sex and intimacy.

Note: You can locate a sex therapist in your area through AASECT, American Association of Sexuality Educators Counselors & Therapists.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

ABC: Seniors Get It On


There's a terrific interview on ABC News with sex therapist Laura Berman, LCSW, Ph.D., about the New England Journal of Medicine study. Berman gives an overview of the findings and comments on the important messages, such as the importance of sex throughout life, medical implications, and resources for help.

I loved the many visuals of older people hugging, kissing, and smiling romantically at each other. Ah, it's about time we got to see this reality! Check it out. (You may have to navigate several obtrusive ads as you try to view the video clip.)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Kiss Tomorrow Hello: Midlife Underground


I really enjoyed reading Kiss Tomorrow Hello: Notes from the Midlife Underground by 25 Women Over Forty. These essays reflect the thoughts, life events and relationships of 25 excellent women writers reflecting on age, health, love, sex, and change.

The writers range in age from 40 to much older, and I found their experiences and perspectives fascinating. For example, Joyce Maynard, at 51, discusses what she discovered from her foray into Internet dating ("maybe an amazing relationship is something you painstakingly build, not something that hits you like a lightning bolt... viewing the process as a search more like a road trip to parts unknown."). Karen Karbo discloses details about her relationship with a man 16 years younger ("OWs [Older Women] have learned that guys...like sex, and they like it when their women like it, and that's about it. [Younger women] worry far too much about cellulite. Basically if you're naked and smiling, men are pretty happy.")

The essay that gripped me the hardest was "Tearing Up the Sheets: A Meditation on Middle-Age Sex" by Ellen Sussman. As I read it, I kept running to my husband to read him parts. For example,

My husband and I prefer to make love in the afternoon. In the evening, we're, well, tired. And we like energetic, tear-up-the-sheets kind of sex. So we steal away from our workand spend some time imitating porn stars. Then we take a long middle-age nap.

Boys come quickly. Men do not. Hallelujah.

I fumble with my jeans, pushing them down and off. I scramble to pull his T-shirt over his head -- wait, it's caught in his glasses -- and the shirt and glasses fall to the floor... He grunts when he turns toward me -- an old hip injury -- and I cringe when I lean into the cushion -- my damn back. And then we've got it right... When he enters me, he fills me. I pull him close, wanting all of him. I give him all of me.


If you're interested in this lively and provocative book, it's available from Amazon here.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Seniors: Please Just Say Yes to Condoms

The media blast continues over the Big News that seniors are still having sex. (At what age were we supposed to stop,and why?) I'm happy to see this media coverage help raise awareness, even though I marvel that it's also raising eyebrows.

A very interesting story appears in the August 13, 2007 print edition of U.S. News & World Report about a subject I've harped on all year -- the fact that seniors in the dating world are often in denial about their risk for contracting STDs. "Sex Ed for Seniors: You Still Need Those Condoms: Sexually transmitted diseases stalk older singles, too" by Deborah Kotz makes this point:

With Viagra and Internet dating sites at their fingertips, a growing number of seniors are enjoying a renaissance between the sheets, but some are paying the piper, contracting sexually transmitted diseases. As HIV carriers live longer, the majority will be over age 50 by 2015, and even now about 15 percent of new infections occur in this age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other STDs, including herpes, chlamydia, and human papillomavirus, which is linked to cervical cancer, are also making the rounds. "While it's a good thing that older people are more sexually active, they need to connect the dots, see that they're at increased risk, and make sure they use condoms," says Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Kotz discusses a University of Chicago study revealing that nearly 60 percent of unmarried women ages 58 to 93 said they didn't use a condom the last time they had sex. An Ohio University study found that about 27 percent of HIV-infected men and 35 percent of HIV-infected women over 50 sometimes have sex without using condoms.

Kotz makes the excellent point that postmenopausal women may be particularly prone to getting infected with blood-borne diseases like HIV or chlamydia.
That's because their thinner and more fragile vaginal lining can easily tear during penetration, allowing pathogens to enter the bloodstream. And new research indicates that older women are at risk of getting infected with HPV, which can give rise to genital warts or cervical cancer.

The message is this: If you're dating and sexually active, please use condoms, whatever your age. Men complain to me that it makes sex less pleasurable, especially when erections are less reliable. Women insist that they're not at risk and they would be embarrassed to insist on condoms. Haven't we heard variations on these objections from youth? Isn't this one area where we can learn from experience and our own good sense?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Question for International Viewers



I see that this blog is attracting visitors not only from the United States but also from all over the world. My last 100 visitors, for example, included viewers from India, Africa, Sweden, Australia, Spain, England, France, Malaysia, Austria, Greece, Switzerland, Belgium and Turkey. (Don't worry -- I can't tell who you are or where you live beyond just the region where your computer resides.)

I'd love to hear from my international viewers about where you're from, why you visited this blog, and how your country views older age sexuality. You can either comment here or send me an email, with permission to post your answer.

Thank you!

-- Joan

Funny or Offensive? Please tell me.

Of course yesterday's New England Journal of Medicine report on senior sexuality prompted not only a respectful and informative media blast, but also the kind of stereotypical response we've come to expect, such as "Senior Sex Study Shows Nana and Papa Still Getting It On"
by Ted Gay. An excerpt from Gay's satirical site:

Jane Stacy, a ninety-four-year-old paraplegic who is cared for by her husband, Van, said that their love life was sparked after she showered and he placed her in her chair to dry and fell face down in her twat.“I said, ‘as long as you’re down there, Van, tend to the clitoris,’ which I was most happy to say he did,” Jane said.When he was asked what Jane tasted like, Van shrugged his shoulders and said, “Depends.”


Is this funny? I know, Postcards is a satirical site, and it even says, "the editorial content on this page is fictional. It is presented for entertainment purposes only. We cannot be held responsible for the actions of anyone who takes this sort of thing seriously." What I'm bothered by is that the elderly seem be fair game for ridicule, and that's what I don't like.

Am I oversensitive when I say this is the kind of senior sex stereotyping and putdown that I resent? Should I just laugh, as I'm sure Gay intended? Or is this just one more example of our society's view of elders as pathetic and ludicrous if they enjoy and/or desire sex?

What do you think? Please tell me.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New England Journal of Medicine: Seniors having sex despite "bothersome problems"

When the news splashed all over the media today that older adults are, indeed, having sex, my first reaction was to laugh and say, "Duhhh!" The idea that senior sex is alive seemed to me as much a news story as the revelation that most people find feet at the end of their legs!

But there was much more to the story. "A Study of Sexuality and Health among Older Adults in the United States," published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, was a major study of 3005 U.S. adults (1550 women and 1455 men) 57 to 85 years of age which revealed some fascinating facts and a few surprises:


The majority of older adults are sexually active and regard sexuality as an important part of life. The prevalence of sexual activity declines with age, yet a substantial number of men and women engage in vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and masturbation even in the eighth and ninth decades of life.

The frequency of sexual activity reported by sexually active older adults (age 57+) is similar to the frequency reported among adults 18 to 59 years of age.

The study reported that 78% of men 75 to 85 years of age, as compared with 40% of women in this age group, had a spousal or intimate relationship. Since women live longer, and on average, older men marry younger women, this disparity can be accounted for by the lack of available men for the older single women.

The sexually active people in the oldest age group interviewed -- 75 to 85 years of age -- reported having sex at least two to three times per month, and 23% reported having sex once a week or more.

About half of the sexually active men and women reported at least one "bothersome sexual problem," and almost one third reported having multiple problems. The women's most prevalent sexual problems were low desire, difficulty with vaginal lubrication, inability to climax, finding sex not pleasurable , and pain, usually during entry. The most prevalent sexual problems for men were erectile difficulty (14% of all men interviewed reported using medication or supplements to improve sexual function), lack of interest in sex, climaxing too quickly, anxiety about performance, and inability to climax.

About one quarter of sexually active older adults with a sexual problem reported avoiding sex as a consequence.

Most surprising, given the extent of these problems that prevented sex from being satisfying or pleasurable, was this fact:

Only 38% of men and 22% of women reported having discussed sex with a physician since the age of 50.

The study suggests that the reasons for poor communication include the unwillingness of both patients and physicians to talk about sex and the gender and age differences between patients and their physicians.

Negative societal attitudes about women’s sexuality and sexuality at older ages may also inhibit such discussions.

When I give workshops and talks, both women and men frequently bring up physical problems that affect their sexuality and want me to provide a solution. I always say, "Please get a diagnosis from your doctor." I emphasize that the problem may be caused by retreating hormones, or by an underlying health condition that you don't know you have, or a medication, or interactions of medications. You can't treat a problem until you know what's causing it.

As the NEJM article states,

Sexual problems may be a warning sign or consequence of a serious underlying illness such as diabetes, an infection, urogenital tract conditions, or cancer. Undiagnosed or untreated sexual problems, or both, can lead to or occur with depression or social withdrawal. Patients may discontinue needed medications because of side effects that affect their sex lives, and medications to treat sexual problems can also have negative health effects, yet physician–patient communication about sexuality is poor.

I invite your comments!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"Today 80 is the new 60," octagenarians study sex

The wonderful people at A Woman's Touch Sexuality Resource Center in Madison, WI, run a summer school about sexuality for seniors which was recently covered by StorybridgeTV. To view the TV segment, click "play." (You may need to hear the opening sentence a few times as it loads -- be patient.) You'll hear feisty comments by the elders taking the class, and tips from Myrtle Wilhite M.D. M.S., co-owner of A Woman's Touch.

As the show's promo says, "If you don't think octagenarians are interested in sex, you could learn a thing or two from this class. After you watch this story, you'll never look at aging the same way again. And that's a good thing!"

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Woman tolerates husband's sexual advances, how to tell him what she wants?

A reader who calls herself "Hot Momma Frigid Lover" posted a comment on another post which contained a point that was so important that I decided to comment on it here. Here are excerpts from her comment:

... I have never had that much pleasure in sex... My husband, on the other hand, has had a very healthy sexual drive and I had a mother who taught me to be sensitive to that drive and take care of his needs. So...well...we have had a good marriage for 32 years.

... I am starting to resent his advances a little more. Not that I don't want to give him pleasure any more but that he does so little to actually 'earn' it. He has always gone for my breasts as an 'invitation' to give him some sexual attention. Since I prefer sleep over sex, grabbing at my breasts is a rude awakening and definitely does not awaken any sexual desire.

I think I know what might help him to arouse me in a more romantic way but how can I tell this man (that I love so much) that he just doesn't turn me on!

Here is what I wish he could learn from someone or somewhere else. If I am asleep (or if he thinks I am ...lots of times I am pretending hoping he will arouse me awake)...I would love a good back massage. Some kisses on the back of my neck, some full body hugs (that don't include his hand on any part of my sexual annatomy)some physical contact that says "I love you" before it says "I need sex". In fact I wouldn't mind hearing the words "I love you" that can be very inviting.

How can I help him to 'learn' this stuff without me having to teach him. Most of the information I have found is for help with sex itself ... I am not interested in sexual pleasure...I just want a little physical love and attention before I give him the "sex" he needs.


I implore you, please talk to your husband about what would turn you on or at least make you feel receptive to sexual intimacy. Surely he would LOVE to know this! Instead of asking how to tell him that he doesn't turn you on (that would be devastating to hear), why not tell him what you DO want from him?

If that seems really difficult to you, start by requesting the back massage, and let that turn into sexual intimacy if it feels right. Then, when you're in a neutral situation (walking in the park, or sitting over coffee, not in bed), try saying to him, "It really makes me feel relaxed and loved when you give me a back massage/kiss me/ hug me for no reason. I love it when you do that."

He needs to hear from you what you like and want from him, because he's certainly getting the message that you're not enjoying his sexual advances. Give him the opportunity to please you and show you his love.

I invite other readers to talk about what has worked to open communication in your relationships.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Woman, 58, "heavier size," wonders how to attract men

"Sassy" wrote me and asked,

How does one who is 58 almost 59, on the heavier size find someone who would want to go out with her… other than married men?? I do not want to ever get involved with a married man. I’ve been hurt because someone else has stepped in and has taken my man and I don’t ever want to do that to anyone!

Sassy, I don't know why you think your options are limited to married men, just because you see yourself as heavy. Some single men are looking for slim women, yes, but many prefer women on the curvier side, and still others are looking for an emotional and intellectual connection that isn't restricted to a particular waist size.

If the problem is, however, that your weight makes you feel unattractive, that might be what's getting in the way of you attracting the men who interest you. We all have an intuitive sense when someone feels undesirable and self-critical, and that's not a come-hither quality. Please look at whether you're happy at your weight. If not, there are ways to change that. (You'll see on my website that I've written several books about fitness and have recommendations of both books and videos for people who would like to get in better shape.) If you are happy the way you are, walk proudly with a swing in your step and a twinkle in your eye, and show the world that you know you're got a lot to offer.

Since you brought up not wanting to get involved with a married man -- there's a terrific book out now: The Other Woman: 21 Wives and Lovers Talk Openly about Sex,Deception, Love, and Betrayal, edited by Victoria Zackheim. Some of the essays reflect the point of view of the "other woman," others are the wives suffering through their husbands' affairs. The book is strong, stark, and honest.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

What Boomers Want in the Bedroom

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Julie Taylor for Baby Boomer Love: What Baby Boomers Want in the Bedroom for Match.com/AOL Personals.

Julie polled "experts and seasoned daters to discover the top three things men and women over 50 desire these days," and here's what she discovered:

What She Wants…
1. Fabulous foreplay
2. To get their sexy back
3. More emotional intimacy

What He Wants…
1. Passionate positive reinforcement
2. Less pressure to be the best ever
3. More surprises in the sack

Do you agree that these are the top three for women and men? I welcome your comments.

To read Julie's article, click here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gerald Haslam talks about prostate cancer and sex


Gerald Haslam, author of Grace Period, is living with prostate cancer. He wrote a stunning summary of his views of the importance of sexuality while living with cancer for my upcoming book. I know I have many readers who are looking for information on sexuality and cancer, so I'm giving you an advanced look at some of the insights he shared:

A seventyish man who was recovering from a prostatectomy asked fellow members of a prostate-cancer support group how they could have sex if they were leaking urine. He ended with a timeless observation--"My wife is willing to be pissed off but not pissed on."

Despite the laughter that followed, his was a serious problem, but the first response solved it: "Put a band on your penis --a cock ring. A lot of older guys who aren't incontinent use them to maintain erections, but if you're leaking they're a good answer, especially if you use a pump."

The first man was honest enough to admit, "I hadn't thought of that. We've never used any...devices. Of course, I've never had prostate cancer before, either." In fact, the prostate cancer world introduces many guys to devices and positions and concepts previously unimagined.

A physician pal said to me shortly after I was rendered impotent by prostate surgery and radiation, "You'd better start pumping up your penis every day, whether you're going to use it right away or not, or it'll shrivel into a Vienna sausage. As soon as you lose spontaneous erections you lose penile tone. No tone, and there'll be nothing to pump when you do want to use it."

In fact, sex seems to be the second most common topic--after cancer therapies--in discussions at most prostate cancer support groups, and I learned that many men, rendered impotent and perhaps stripped of libido by hormonal ablation, simply but not happily accepted the verdict that their sex lives were over, a defining activity lost. A dread frequently mentioned to me by my fellow prostate-cancer survivors has been not only the sudden absence of sex but of sexuality itself. This is especially grave since sex and sexuality can represent the life force's most powerful affirmation in the face of death.

Unfortunately, many of us men grow up believing that our sexuality dwells almost exclusively in our genitals, so a damaged penis may lead to a damaged personality. As one wife admitted at a session for couples, "There's not much fun in our lives anymore, and I don't just mean sex. He's just so sad." A penile fixation may also lead one to forget how much sexual satisfaction can be achieved by giving pleasure to a partner you love.


Please read my review of Gerald Haslam's Grace Period. Click here to view or order Grace Period on Amazon.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sexual adventurer, age 58, has "every time/ everyone" condom rule

Many thanks to the people who are responding to my request for interviews for my next book! I am getting such interesting stories! For example...

When I asked Tinggi, age 58, how active his sex life was, he said, “Depends on what you mean by ‘sex’!” His erotic activity includes self-pleasuring to orgasm one to three times a day, and intercourse with one to three or more partners (male and female) per week, one to two orgasms per partner. “I tend to have several partners at the same time," says Tinggi. "I’ve been with two of my partners for five years, another for two years. All of the relationships are open and all my partners regularly have sex with others.” His sexual adventures in the past few years have included multiple partner scenes at sex parties, masturbating for four hours while riding an anal plug while being videocast globally, and nude theater performances.

Tinggi is diligent about practicing safer sex, and has not indulged in partner sex without a condom in 30 years. “My barrier policy is standard, long fixed, and known by all who have shared erotic times with me: Barriers are always used, for everyone, every time, for any genital contact,” he explained in a comment on my blog. “This ‘every time/everyone’ policy makes life simpler -- no need for elaborate calculations as to number of partners, who they were, days since last std check-up, partners since our last date, etc. When sex is likely, or probably, or possible, or even a wisp of my imagination, I bring my own supply of barriers. Should the opportunity arise, and both having shed clothes, I simply say, ‘Ok, now time to get Charles (not my name) dressed,’ and put on a condom."

When dates insist on sex without a barrier, which rarely happens, “the date becomes a chaste one and a last one.” Steady dates, people with whom he has sex repeatedly, get the same treatment each date: "every time/everyone."

“I do not ask my dates about STD check-ups, partners, etc. I am going to use barriers regardless of my date's answers. People can have an STD of which they show no signs detectable outside of a laboratory. I believe this ‘every time/everyone’ policy protects my dates, myself, and my community. A sad fact is that HIV is being transmitted in our retirement homes - by their residents. It is already there waiting for me. Barrier use can be eroticized to become a fun and arousing part of sexual interaction.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Elders and Sexuality: panel in San Francisco 7/26/07





(updated 7/17/07)

(San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau Photo)

I'm pleased to be on a panel of experts on Elders and Sexuality: The Evolution of Desire in the Later Years: A Public Panel on Sexuality and Aging, Thursday evening July 26, 2007 6:30pm-8:30pm at Laguna Grove Care, 624 Laguna Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, sponsored by Pacific Institute and the California Institute of Integral Studies. Here's the panel description:

How do cultural values and institutional settings affect the social value placed on sexuality among the elderly? What are the sexual needs and expressions among our elders? And what is the potential and possibilities of sexual expression later in life? Join us for a public panel that will explore such topics as:



* Facts and Fictions of Sexuality and Aging
* Addressing Cultural Challenges and Affirming Sexual Needs
* Sexuality in Residential Care Facilities: Philosophies from the Pacific Institute Perspective
* Transcendent Sex in Later Life: Experiencing Spiritual Awakenings through Sexual Expression


Panelists:


Dr. Liz Macera is the Co- director of the Gerontological Nursing Program at UC San Francisco. Dr. Macera is currently working on a grant funded research project on intimacy issues in assisted living environments, where she will be interviewing AgeSong residents for the data collection for this research.

Joan Price is the author of “Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty” and an advocate for ageless sexuality. She was interviewed about senior sex and dating on ABC Nightline. Joan's mission is to change society's view of sex and aging, one mind at a time. One of Joan's blog readers called her "the beautiful face of senior sex, who shows up whenever the age group is ridiculed."

Dr. Nader Robert Shabahangi, is current President and Co-Founder of EHI and President and Founder of the Pacific Institute. A licensed psychotherapist with a Ph.D from Stanford University, Nader is a leader, trainer, and writer on applying the Existential-Humanistic approach to the treatment of elderly in the United States and Europe.

Moderator: Elizabeth Shaver,PhD cand. MFT, is a psychotherapist specializing in sexuality, trauma, and relationship issues. A researcher and adjunct faculty at the California Institute of Integral Studies, she has been a professional trained in the field of Holistic Sexuality, working with victims of sexual abuse and sexual offenders. She contributed to Dr. Jenny Wade's seminal research on transpersonal sexual experiences in Transcendent Sex: When Lovemaking Opens The Veil.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sexual Desire Then and Now

How would you define and describe "sexual desire"?

Thirty years ago. I would have said, "Sexual desire is a driving urge of attraction. I feel tingling in my genitals, and a feeling of physiological hollowness yearning to be filled. I fantasize touching my lust object, kissing him, discovering (or rediscovering) what he looks like, smells like, what noises he makes, how he makes love." There was an urgency to my desire, a need.

Today, at age 63, I'd answer differently: "Sexual desire is a yearning for intimacy, for touch, for bonding with my beloved man. I fantasize arousing him, connecting with him, becoming joined in intimacy and ecstacy. It is both physical and emotional, though without the electric arousal I used to feel. The sexual urge for me now starts in my heart rather than my genitals and spreads to my whole body, slowly, like a slow-motion wave washing gently over me."

What about you? How would you define and describe sexual desire now, compared to when you were younger?

Monday, July 09, 2007

What makes a 60+ woman attractive?

Erica, age 64, got out of a bad marriage with her zest for life (and sex) intact. She experienced some exhilarating (though short-term) sexual relationships through online dating, but ultimately quit trying to find her match after too many rejections. Now she tells me,


I think my main problem is feeling attractive to the opposite sex at my age. I notice that there are older women who attract men no matter how old they are. They have what I call the “it” factor. They’re not necessarily beautiful, but they radiate self confidence. My friend’s mother had men pursuing her into her 80s. I never had the the “it” factor when I was young and pretty, so how am I going to get it now when I really have good reasons not to feel attractive. I’d like to see that question answered.

I've studied such women by the way and I do have a few clues. My friend's mom was a former glamour girl who had been pursued by men her whole life and she retained that charm and youthfullness until she died. She dressed in ridiculously youthful clothes but I guess men liked that. She acted as if she was gorgeous even when she was very old and always just assumed she'd be the center of attention wherever she was.

Another friend--around my age-- has ALWAYS been very attractive to men even though she's short and dumpy with not great skin. She's also very charming (charm is key), has a sense of personal style (both these women do) and radiates friendliness combined with a rather haughty attitude that she is the arbiter of intelligence and what matters in life that gets men (and women in fact) working for her approval.

Such women are very seductive--and the key is they don't try to attract men, they don't care if men are attracted to them, that's the self-confidence factor. They're just charming, outgoing and friendly. I've also noticed (and was once told by a woman who attracted a lot of guys) that being very friendly is key. Men want to be around women who make them feel accepted.

I'm kind of shy so have trouble with friendliness. What's helped me is owning an extremely cute dog. He's a conversation starter and I'm much less shy when he's with me.

I'd love to hear more suggestions that don't rely on looks, or pretending you're someone you're not.


I'd like to hear from other women who are either in Erica's situation or feel they've overcome those feelings. I'd also like to hear from men who can identify or describe the "it" factor in women who attract them despite not being young or conventionally gorgeous.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Joan

Monday, June 25, 2007

What Don't Older Men/Women Understand about Pleasing Each Other?

I received this email from Jeane, who doesn't feel that men understand older women's sexual needs. I've had similar complaints from men about women.


I have found through an eternity, that the only good sex partner I ever had was my first husband. None could beat him. And that meant going through husband number two as well who didn't know much. And during those years of my divorce, and was single, I have been with a few. I have found what men don't know about pleasing women could fill an encyclopedia that would wind around the earth's circumference.

The Big Bravado they show from teen-aged boys through the ages is just that...Big Bravado. They haven't got a clue to a woman's sexually and what really "gets her going." No wonder women have given up and use dildos and other prosthetic objects to obtain some satisfaction. I'm at the "ho-hum" stage...live with it or without
it...and of course, there's always a dildo. Just sick of it all... Over-exposed and repressed all at the same time.

As for pleasing women, older women need MORE TIME being aroused. Problem is, with time, most men require less or else they "lose it." There are sex shops now that will accommodate needs for both.I found out about them because I had "brachytherapy" treatments in the spring of 2005 after a hysterectomy and have to use "something" once a week to keep myself "open" or I can close up from scar tissue from these radiation treatments. Therefore, I can tell you that I got rid of modesty when my physical well being was involved and went to one of these shops.

You have my permission to use all this material. Maybe someone else out there went through something similar.

I know that Jeane's email may seem anti-men, and I hope you realize that this blog is absolutely pro-men as well as pro-women. I encourage you to express yourself, and by communicating candidly, perhaps we can begin to erase (or at least smudge) the lines that divide us.

Let's open up a dialogue about what we'd like the other gender to understand about pleasing us. Please add to the discussion by posting a comment or by emailing me, and I'll post it for you.

-- Joan

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sue Johanson: Great Sex after 30 Years of Marriage


Feisty Sue Johanson, who entertains and informs viewers of Talk Sex with Sue Johanson on Oxygen TV, tells the July/August 2007 issue of AARP The Magazine how to have great sex after 30 years of marriage. Her tips:

Talk about cellulite. Talk about wrinkles. Ignoring changes in your body won't make them go away.

Dress up like Tarzan. Or a nurse. No one else will know.

Guess what? Many older couples don't like penetration. Luckily it's not the only way to have fun.

Do the dishes naked.

Waiting until you're in the mood is baloney. Try going along with your partner when you don't feel like it. You might be surprised.

Take a vacation. It's amazing what happens in Nassau.



What should we add to this list? I'd add these:

Get a sampler kit of lubricants and try them all.

Read erotica to each other.

Take tango, waltz, or nightclub 2-step lessons.

Surprise each other.


Your turn -- what would you add?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell interviews Joan Price

I was interviewed by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell about the motivation and process of writing Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty. Here are a few excerpts from Kerri's interview with me:

This Author Talks Straight about Sex
Today, I interviewed Joan Price, author of "Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty." She talks about writing a ground-breaking book on an undercovered subject, building her platform on the web and how she sold a book targeting women over 60 when the market place seems almost to ignore anyone over 40!

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm a lively woman of 63, enthusiastically in love with my husband. I'm the author of six books and hundreds of magazine articles, a fitness professional, public speaker, and contemporary line-dance instructor. Since my book, Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty, came out and got widespread attention, I've become a spokesperson for senior sex, or, as I call myself, an advocate for ageless sexuality. (I've also been called a "wrinkly sex kitten" by one newspaper – I have to say I love that!)

Tell us about your book.
Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty is mainly my intensely up-front-and-personal story of hot sex with my 68-year old lover (who is now my 70-year-old husband), along with snippets of interviews with other sexually seasoned women about their experiences, and a hefty dose of tips from the experts. It's warm, sexy, candid, often funny, and very informative!

How did you come up with the topic/why did you feel there was a need for it?
At age 59, when I first envisioned the book, I was in a relationship with this amazing man of 66, and it was hot, really hot. We were like a couple of teenagers, yet with the wisdom of decades of relationship experience. Despite the sexual exhilaration, we were making love in older bodies, with new challenges. For example, I didn't lubricate enough for sexual comfort, and my arousal time took much longer. I went looking for books on the subject – and I didn't find any that reflected what I wanted: sexy, fun to read, and informative. They were either academic, or doom-and-gloom, or too young. See, there were tons of books for and about Boomers, but they addressed readers as if they just turned fifty—when actually, for many of us, fifty was a decade ago! There are books about sex after forty, after menopause, after fifty—but after sixty? It's as if "sixty" is the new dirty word.

What is one of the challenges for women who want to be sexually active after 60?
Just one challenge? Can I give you a list instead?
· Seeing our bodies as sexy despite wrinkles and sags and a youth-centered society
· Slower arousal
· More difficulty lubricating
· More difficulty reaching orgasm
· If single, attracting a partner
· If in long-term relationship, keeping sex spicy
· Health challenges: ours and our partners'



Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell's "K.C.'s Write For You" is a blog about the freelance writing life from the perspective of a stay at home "mom" of 3 dogs, 2 cats and a husband.