Friday, December 23, 2011

"What I learned about my sexuality in 2011": readers respond

Are you over 50? What did you learn about your sexuality in 2011?

Please read the comments below to learn how many of you responded to this question. Some responses are joyful; some are unhappy, some are helpful. Together, they give us a glimpse into the reality of senior sexuality -- the delights, the disappointments, the surprises when our dreams come true, the ways we make do when they don't.

If you'd like to add your voice, and you're 50+, please continue to comment below. If you prefer, email me a sentence or a  paragraph, with permission to add it to the comments here, and I'll post it for you under the name you tell me (it doesn't have to be your own).

Since Naked at Our Age was envisioned to answer the questions and address the problems we encounter trying to have a rich sex life at our age, I urge you to read it. It really does discuss all of the problems you wrote about in your comments, and much more. Forty-five experts give advice after reading your stories and your questions.

It's the book that I wished we had available when I started talking to people about their sexual concerns -- and now we do.

As we wrap up 2011, please put at least one special sex-themed resolution on your 2012 list. You deserve joy.

Thank you for continuing to read my books and this blog, and thank you especially for your willingness to add your candid comments. That's what makes this a community.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Getting Older, Getting Better," guest post by Charlie Glickman, PhD

When I read this post on Charlie Glickman's Adult Sexuality Education blog, I asked him for permission to republish it here. He covers many issues and questions about how our culture views aging and sexuality, including beliefs that we regretfully internalize.  I hope you'll encourage young folks as well as others of our age to read what Charlie Glickman has to say here. -- Joan



Getting Older, Getting Better 

by Charlie Glickman, PhD

One of my favorite sex nerds, Dr. Debby Herbenick, recently retweeted something that I've been thinking about for a while:


Today is the 20th anniversary of the date that I met my partner. In the last two decades, we've both changed a lot. We're both much more secure and solid in who we are. We've grown and challenged each other to overcome many of the habits that caused friction in our lives and in our connections with other people. We've learned many, many ways to support our relationship. And yes, our bodies have changed, too. While I'd love to have the physical resilience that I used to have, I wouldn't trade my current life for the one I had back then. I needed that ability to bounce back- without it, I never would have survived the drama I caused myself and others.

 After two decades with Elizabeth, I think she's more beautiful than ever before and I'm more drawn to her than I could have imagined when we first met. And I think about the many people who stop being attracted to their partners and trade them in for someone younger. This seems to be more common for men, but I've also seen women do the same thing in increasing numbers. While I'm fully supportive of people creating the relationships they want and ending them when they no longer serve them, I can't help but wonder about our tenacious grip on the idea that younger is better and how that affects things.

 In a world that only presents the latest 18-25 year olds as sexy, it's a challenge to not compare oneself or one's partner with that fantasy. Personally, I've found that became easier when I stopped watching TV and reading the drivel that passes for news (and don't even get me started on popular magazines). But it takes more than that. Every time you compliment someone's appearance by telling them that they look young, you're reinforcing the idea that we lose value as we age. I feel sadness around that because it encourages us to deny our histories, to pretend we're something we aren't, and to create an image of who we wish we were rather than celebrating who we've become. And let's not forget that many of the cosmetic treatments to make us look younger don't work all that well and are promoted with ads that are photoshopped like crazy. My willing suspension of disbelief snapped a long time ago.

 Maybe I'll have something different to say in another 20 years. But right now, I think that the physical expression of experience and growth is incredibly sexy. It's an outward manifestation of the individual's evolution. Personally, I find that much more attractive than someone who strives to look like they're still 23. This is something that many of us have to practice. When the only images that we see define attractiveness as equivalent to youth, it can be difficult to not make comparisons.

 I've spoken with quite a few people who are convinced that nobody will want to have sex with them because they have grey hair, or wrinkles, or scars, or stretch marks, or health concerns, or any of the other effects of age. I feel sadness that they're so sure that they're unattractive to others because they're unattractive to themselves. I wonder how much of that comes from never having thought of people over a certain age as desirable. I wonder how much of that comes from the fact that so much of the breathless commentary about attractiveness (especially female attractiveness) is tied up in how young someone looks. What a waste of the incredible beauty and wisdom that surrounds us, if only we could see it.

If Elizabeth and I are fortunate, we will have lots more time together. And someday, we may get to be like the people in this photograph. I look at it and see something to be celebrated. I also know that many people will look at it and feel disgust, shame, or squicked. So what are you going to do when you get to be that age? How are you going to feel about yourself or your partner(s)? Will you be able to be naked with your partner without feeling self-disgust or shame?

 The time to start thinking about older people being sexy is right now. This is the time to stop shaming elders who express desire or who want to have sex. This is the time to stop mocking their bodies or describing them negatively. When you get older, you'll be struggling with a lot of cultural momentum and the longer you go along with it, the harder it'll be when you finally get around to resisting (if you do). That's especially true for women and their partners, given the extra pressure and judgement attached to youth and attractiveness for women. But really, we're all affected by the idea that younger is better.

 Instead of thinking of someone as "looking good for their age," how about simply letting them "look good"? Instead of telling someone that they look so young, compliment them on something specific like their hairstyle or their outfit. And instead of saying insulting things about older people's sexuality, acknowledge the feeling as your own judgment. There's a huge difference between "that's gross" and "I feel discomfort." The more we can change how we think and feel about elders and sexuality, the better off we'll be if and when we get there.

 I also highly recommend Joan Price's book Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex. Even if you're not there yet, there's a good chance that you will be and many of the sexual concerns that can arise are much easier to deal with when you aren't surprised by them. Joan interviewed and quoted lots of medical professionals, sex educators, and therapists, so it's like you're getting the benefit of a whole panel of experts in one book. It's amazing.


- Dr. Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations, an occasional university professor, and a sexuality educator. He teaches and writes about sex-positivity, sex & shame, sexual practices and communities, relationships, and other related topics. Check him out at his website, twitter, or on Facebook.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide 2011


Looking for the perfect gift for the sexy seniors in your life? Here are some gifts that are sure to please (repeatedly, in some cases!). Most are delights I found in 2011, though a couple are treasured earlier discoveries that I want to be sure you know about.


SEX TOYS

Here are my favorite toys that I tried for the first time in 2011. Click the links to read my full reviews.


Minna Ola: Strong, rumbly vibrations surround your clitoris nestled into a cushy pad. Truly innovative!


Zini Ran: My new favorite for vaginal stimulation, tapered, slim, and strong. It can also be used for clitoral stimulation, if you prefer.


MiMi: A tiny, quiet clitoral vibrator, just right for travel or for slipping between sex-joined bodies for extra clitoral stimulation.


Jimmyjane Form 4: A throbbing, rumbling, luxury vibrator that you can enjoy in the shower or bath as well as in bed.


Yooo: The cutest sex toy ever, like a bubblegum-colored Mickey Mouse head that vibrates... really nicely!


(Please see my other vibrator reviews by clicking here. Keep scrolling down -- there are many!)


BOOKS

Free Fall: A Late-in-Life Love AffairHouse of Holes by Nicholson Baker: An erotic fantasy novel that is crude, rude, sexy, and utterly hilarious! Only the author and one character are our age, but it's still the best of the year.


Free Fall: A Late in Life Love Affair by Rae Padilla Francoeur: An erotic memoir that takes place when the author is 58 and her lover is 67. Hot and provocative,and a beautiful homage to sex and love at our age.

Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha. Convinced that monogamy is unnatural and unreasonable for our human species? This book is packed with research that supports this, and is written in such an entertaining way that you'll enjoy it throughout. I'll give this deserving book its own review soon.

Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex ed. Erica Jong. A remarkable anthology of personal essays and a few short stories, all revealing what women think about sex and their pivotal sexual experiences.


Dear John, I Love Jane ed. Candace Walsh and Laura André. An anthology written by women who left their straight life/ relationships/ husbands because they fell in love with women.

Sex Counsel by Suzi Godson. Godson writes sex and relationships advice for The Times in the UK and edits More Sex Daily. She is smart, funny, and compassionate, and backs up her advice with research. Her questions come from people of all ages, many of them our age. I'll give this worthy book its own review soon. UK readers: book is available here.



JOAN'S BOOKS

Forgive me for patting myself on the back, but my own books make perfect gifts for the special someone in your life. Order directly from me and I'll autograph your books to your giftee. Write "lube, please" in the comment box, and I'll include a free sample of Blossom Organics.


Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex: Real-life women and men over fifty tell stories of their past and present sex lives, ask questions, and get straightforward advice and information from 45 experts: therapists, medical professionals, sex educators. If you have a problem, question, or concern about senior sex, it's answered here!


Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty: An upbeat, frank, woman-to-woman friendly book that acknowledges the challenges and celebrates the delights of older-life sexuality. This book combines memoir with candid comments and tales from lively, earthy women who aren't afraid to talk about their sex lives.



LINGERIE

Photo by Ruth Lefkowitz
Take your sweetie to your favorite lingerie destination and have her try on a few outfits, buying the one that makes you go va-va-voom! (Read my latest lingerie post and maybe print it out for her if she isn't in love with her body -- lingerie is very flattering!)  This is for guys, too:  the smoothness of silk over the male anatomy will be a delight for both of you. (If he's shy about trying on undies in a department store dressing room, you might just make the purchase and surprise him.)



LUBRICANTS

Blossom Organics Lubricants for Women: This year I discovered Blossom Organics. Only naturally pure, female-friendly ingredients keep your tender parts moist and slippery for the joy of friction. I especially like the arousal gel for an extra zing!


See my 2010 Holiday Recommendations for even more gift ideas!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

#14 of Top Sex Bloggers 2011!

 I'm proud to be #14 of the Top 100 Sex Bloggers 2011, as judged by smart, sassy, sexy Rori, the sex blogger of Between My Sheets, after nominations by the huge sex blogger/sex reader community.

Everyone who blogs about sex hopes to be on this annual list, and I'm proud that this is the third year in a row that this blog has made the cut -- in fact it's been in the top 21 each time.

Of course I find the honor rewarding personally (woo hoo -- people read my blog and like it!), but even more, I am gratified that our topic is compelling enough to receive this high ranking among the many hundreds of sex blogs out there.

As far as I know -- and I still have to finish reading all the other award winners -- this is the only blog that focuses specifically on senior/elder sex, and one of the few in the top 100 that aims to be informative rather than erotic or titillating. Most of the award winners are in-your-face, down-and-dirty, sexually graphic in both writing and photos. That's cool, they're fun to read, and I'm not putting them down at all -- but my aim here is quite different.

I want this blog to be a resource for senior sex-themed information and viewpoints and a place to go when you want to read about senior sex. I want seniors and elders who grew up when I did to feel comfortable here. I see sexuality as a fascinating subject, even more at this age because it's so often kept under the covers. I want to normalize talking out loud about senior sex, and in a respectful, informative manner.

Not everyone likes my style. One year, a reader complained that my blog wasn't "actual sex" and my credibility as a sex blogger was in question because I didn't describe my own sex acts with partners, if indeed I had any. OK, move on, then.

I'm so happy that Rori and all of you who nominated this blog find it worthy of inclusion in the Top 100,and I thank all of you who read it. I love getting comments, so feel free to post (include your age, if you don't mind).

Enjoy the Top 100 -- but watch out, most of these blogs are not safe for reading at work (unless your work has a sex focus) or around the grandkids!