Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Nicest Online Dating Rejection Ever

What are your pet peeves and pet tips about dating as a senior?  When I give my "How the Heck Do I Date at This Age" workshops and when I blog about online dating, I always plead with people to do these things:

1. Tell the truth (about age, build, marital status)

2. Post a current photo without sunglasses

3. If someone messages you and you're not interested, give a courteous "no, thank you."
I keep hearing, "Yeah, but what do you say if you're not interested?" Don't lie. Do be polite. Do answer. (Ignoring someone is much more hurtful than anything you might say. However, if the initial message from him/her is inappropriate, feel free to ignore.)

My usual advice is this:  Make it clear, honest, and polite -- something like, "Thank you for writing, and I enjoyed reading your profile... [Insert something complimentary about the person's qualities/interests here.] However, I don't think we're a match. [No need to give reason, but you can if it's something specific and doesn't put the other person down.] Best wishes for finding what you seek.'"

Today I decided to expand the age range I was seeking to include age 50 to 73. (I'm 68, whatever that might mean to you.)  Before, I had the lower limit at 55, but I don't mind if the man is younger than that, as long as he is smart, fit, and interesting; matches my energy; and is attracted to older women.

A delightful, 51-year-old man came up in my search. We had much in common, and I found his photo very attractive. I wrote him a complimentary message, and ended with this: "...I know you say your upper age limit is 55 -- is that firm? See my profile and current photos before you answer."

He turned me down, but the way he said no prompted me to write this blog post. It's the nicest rejection  I've ever received, and it will become my new model of how to respond when not interested. He gave me permission to post it here, without identifying him in any way:

Thank you for writing, it's nice to be approached on occasion instead of doing all the outreach. (And I always respond, I can't stand it when I send an email and am not even afforded the courtesy of a "no".) I'm not absolutely firm on my age range, but honestly 68 is a bit beyond what I will consider. You sound like a live wire and a wonderful lady to get to know, and I wish you the best in finding someone who can match your spirit and energy.

See why I love this message? It's extremely complimentary -- he read my profile, he thinks I'm cool -- and he's honest about why he's saying no. Perfect. Thank you, not-to-be-identified man who inspired this post.

I welcome comments, especially if you have a nice way of saying, "No, thank you."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

CatalystCon: celebrating sexuality


I'm basking in the joy of CatalystCon, a weekend of learning and sharing with other sex educators and self-proclaimed sex geeks. The mission of this event was "Sparking Communication in sexuality, activism and acceptance." Oh yes, mission accomplished.


Though most attendees were younger and I was the only speaker on senior sex, there were other people with grey hair (or they would have had grey hair had they not colored theirs). I felt total acceptance from all the people I met, even those decades younger. The sex-positive nature of the event conveyed this message to everyone: "I celebrate my own sexuality, sexuality in general, and your sexuality, no matter how different from mine yours might appear to be."

Megan Andelloux
I tried to choose from 40 sessions presented over two days, wishing I could attend them all. For every session I attended, there were four I had to miss.

Charlie Glickman
Some of my favorite sex educators featured in Naked at Our Age were speaking:  Carol Queen, Charlie Glickman, Megan Andelloux. There were names that inspire recognition and awe, such as Dr. Marty Klein.

 (Want your own "Sex Geek" shirt?  Order from Reid Mihalko here.)

I attended sessions where I'd learn information that you, dear sex-positive senior readers, would benefit from knowing, and others where I'd come away with plenty of "huh! I didn't know that!"


For example, the "Toxic Toys" session with Metis Black, founder of Tantus, high quality silicone sex toys; Jennifer Pritchett, founder of Smitten Kitten; and feisty educator and author, Ducky Doolittle. I was amazed by their stories of activism in an industry where sex toys used to be cheap, easily broken, and made of noxious materials that leached chemicals into our mucous membranes.  We have women like these three activists to thank for the safety and quality of sex toys today.


One of the most memorable speakers I heard was Buck Angel. Buck calls himself "a man with a vagina" -- he's a transgender man who elected to have top surgery but not bottom surgery.

As a child named Susan (but everyone called him Buck), he was a “total tomboy” and thought of himself as a boy. “Occasionally someone would say, ‘You’re a girl,” and I’d beat the crap out of them, and they’d say, ‘OK, you’re a dude,’” he says. “Everything was fine until at 15, puberty hit. Not puberty as a boy – but puberty as a girl. Here I am bleeding, my boobs are growing, I’m turning into a woman.”

He had his sex change 20 years ago, before female-to-male changes were done. He was the "guinea pig" for the surgeon who removed his breasts. “For years I hated what I was, and now I love it," he says.

Now Buck is 50 years old, a porn star (“the man with a pussy”), transgender activist, and motivational speaker. His past includes alcohol and drug addiction, modeling, hustling, attempted suicide, and death threats. “I should be dead," he says. "Why am I still here? Because I have a message to give the world: Deprogram yourself, and love your vagina.” Buck Angel's story is worthy of a  book. (Buck, do you need a ghostwriter?)


Carol Queen & Robert Lawrence
Another provocative session was "Why Talk about Sex and Disability?", co-presented by Robin Mandell and Dr. Robert Morgan Lawrence (who also gave a fascinating talk on "The Anatomy of Pleasure" with his partner Carol Queen).

Robin Mandell
Robin referred to people without disabilities as "temporarily able-bodied" and made the point that we have much to learn from sex-positive people with disabilities. Robert, who referred to himself as “old and crunchy,” jolted us all when he spread out all the medications he has to take for myriad medical challenges including pain that limits mobility. He has had to make many accommodations sexually as well as in other ways. “It took being crippled to realize that sex wasn’t penetration," he says.”


I had fun at a workshop learning to use the new version of the female condom, called the FC2. If your experience was with the first female condom, which felt and sounded like having sex with a shower curtain, you'll be happy to know the material is completely different now. It's great for folks of our age, because the penis can be inserted even if it’s not erect, and lube in the condom doesn’t dry up or get absorbed.It can also be used for anal sex for either gender, just remove the inner ring. One man in the workshop said it was a way "to feel bareback sensations while staying protected." (This video shows how to insert it and gives lots of info.)


Okay, the female condom does look funny (especially in this model with a dildo in it that we passed around -- should I not have shared this?), but the workshop leaders, Planned Parenthood sex educators Alma de Anda and Mayra Lizzette Yñiguez, advised us to give it three tries to discover how comfortable and empowering it is. They gave me a bunch of samples (three in a pack, to prove their point) to share with my workshop attendees!


My own session was titled "Senior Sex Out Loud," the story of my journey from high school English teacher to fitness professional/ health writer to sex educator/ senior sex advocate, with experiences along the way that were sometimes amusing, sometimes amazing, occasionally appalling. I started out wearing a jacket, but shed it when I talked about body acceptance. (Want to hear this speech yourself, or offer one of my workshops at your venue? I have a suitcase packed, would love to come to you. Please email me and let's talk.)


But CatalystCon was more than the knowledge, more than the networking, more than the opportunity for me to share what I do and how I feel about it, more than learning what other sex educators do and how they feel about it. It felt like a brave new world was possible, one in which acceptance and celebration reigned.

Imagine living in a society free of closed-minded people and repressive attitudes and policies, where we celebrate our similarities and our differences and are truly kind to each other. That was in the air at CatalystCon.

I applaud Dee Dennis, who conceived and birthed CataystCon; the sponsors who made it possible and affordable; the extraordinary speakers who were willing to donate their wisdom and incur their own travel expenses; and the attendees who were eager to absorb new knowledge, communicate openly (even those who wore the "I'm shy" wristbands that Reid gave out), and take our messages home. CatalystConWest will become a yearly event, and CatalystConEast will rock your world March 15-17, 2013 in Washington, DC.


As always, I welcome your comments.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jimmyjane Iconic Rabbit Vibrator

Luxury vibrator company Jimmyjane has "curated" (as they put it) a collection of white vibrators of various types. Many thanks to Gasm.org for sending me the Iconic Rabbit for review.

 If you're new to the "rabbit" vibrator genre, that's the pet name (literally) that we give to dual-action vibrators that have both a phallic-looking section for insertion into the vagina and an outer, vibrating piece -- often shaped like a rabbit or other animal -- that flutters against the clitoris.

 I love the texture of the elastomer material of the Iconic Rabbit -- just the right degree of hard vs. squishy. Elastomer is body safe, free of chemicals that leach into the body. You can use either water-based or silicone lubricant with it.

I like the flexibility of the clitoral stimulator (the part that's shaped like a rabbit). You can press it closer or open it up more to land where you want. The fluttery ears can hug your clitoris, or you can tuck them under the bunny face and press the whole thing against your clitoris for extra vibration. It's mild to moderately strong, not a powerhouse, but no wimp, either.

My least favorite part of the Iconic Rabbit is the vibrating beads section. You don't see them, but the bulge at the bunny's eye level contains a bunch of vibrating beads. That could be fun, but it hits me right at the entrance when I position the bunny ears where I want them, and it's a wider and harder bulge of the vibrator, and that's not ideal. Just me, though, you might love that feature and the fit. The 5" of insertable length is mostly about 1.25" in diameter, except for the bulge of vibrating beads which is a bit more than 1.5".

Fortunately, the bunny and the shaft are independently powered. Insert three AA batteries (included), and slide the power button up or down for each. You can vibrate the heck out of the bunny. Meanwhile you can either keep the shaft vibrating on high, or turn it down to low or even off, if you want the feeling of fullness without internal vibrations or the beads swirling around.

It's tough to get the right "fit" with a rabbit. Is the insertable part exactly as deep as you like it when the clitoral part is positioned perfectly? There's no way to know before you try it. Too bad that there's no diagram with a ruler or tape measure showing exactly how far everything is from each other. Too bad they're not adjustable, too, though I know that would be problematic, with seams in places you don't want seams if it's made to telescope to different lengths.

It surprises me that as expensive as Jimmyjane products are, a storage pouch is not included with this Rabbit. A box, yes, but if you're got a lot of toys (you do, don't you?) you don't have space to store boxes. The elastomer is wonderful to the touch, but it picks up lint, dust, and cat hairs like a magnet -- and that's right out of the box, before any private use. It's easily washable --just be careful that the battery area doesn't get wet.

Are you familiar with Gasm.org? This site celebrates "the female orgasm, the experts, the products, and you." I'm interviewed here about orgasms after menopause, and you'll also find a video of me talking about orgasms (no, not demonstrating them -- that's not what I do!) here



Friday, September 07, 2012

Lelo Smart Wands: for massage or... ?


The new LELO Smart Wands are truly gorgeous -- deep, rich plum (or black if you prefer), sensuously curved, vibrating wands made of silicone with gold-colored accents on the handle. They're sleek and almost too beautiful to hide away between uses. But "smart"? How is that supposed to work? Read on.

Lelo offers two models: medium and large. I was eager to test the large Smart Wand which promised the most intensity, but while Good Vibrations waited for that model, they sent me the medium size.

Beautiful, gift-worthy, art-quality wand, to be sure. But not nearly strong enough for me. It's pretty weak, actually.


Now you may not need the vroom-vroom-vroom power intensity I do for clitoral stimulation -- in fact, many of you are downright scared by the intensity I describe in my favorite toys. If  you like subtle to medium intensity, you'll likely love this pleasure object.


If, however, your sensations need extra power to fire, go for the big one! I was happy when I received the big guy for comparison.

The large model is about a foot long and weighs almost a pound. (The medium is about 8" long and weights just under 6 ounces.) The large head sends vibrations to the whole outer vulva, which I like, not just the clitoris -- though I know that some women prefer being able to pinpoint  the clitoris.

 Some reviewers have complained of hand numbing between the vibrations all the way from head to handle and the heaviness of the wand, but you really don't have to tax arthritic wrists by holding it in the air or holding it at all. Thanks to the ergonomic styling, you can aim the rounded end where you like it, and barely lift the length of the wand  to keep it there. So don't worry when it feels hefty when you lift it.


Given the size -- in both length and head size, similar to the Hitachi Magic Wand -- I thought the vibrations would be similar in intensity to the Hitachi. No, nothing is similar in intensity to the Hitachi, sorry. But if you don't need Hitachi power (and  huge crowds of women do not, even at our age), this is an elegant alternative.


Why the "Smart" appellation? You can choose among eight vibrational patterns manually by pressing buttons -- or you can hold down the pattern button to activate "SenseTouch" which automatically goes to 100% intensity when the wand is pressed to the body. Take it away from the body (why? a phone call? a break?) and it whirs down and waits on low. I honestly don't know how valuable this feature is. I tend to just crank it up to maximum intensity and keep it there, no need for a break.


Oh! I get it! The "SenseTouch" is for giving a "real" massage (without the "wink wink")! Of course, you want it to stop when you're switching body parts for muscle relaxation. Whoops. I should have guessed from the illustration on the box. Silly me!

In fact, LELO's own website says it's for "deeply satisfying all-over body massage." Why didn't I think of that? Of course if you're using it for all over body massage, you might have the numbing hand problem. I wonder why it's made with a vibrating handle, since there's no way to use that handle for anything other than holding on. Sex blogger Dangerous Lilly mentioned in her excellent review of the Smart Wands that if you hold the large wand in the middle of the handle (the thinnest part), the vibrations are weakest there.

Like all LELO products, you charge the vibrator (ooops -- massager)  for two hours first, then you have no cords to fuss with while you use it. It's quiet and even waterproof! The vibrations are rumbly (which I prefer, personally) rather than buzzy, especially in the large model. Like all LELO products, the wands are made of medical grade materials. They come with a 1-year warranty and a 10-year product quality guarantee.


Whether you decide to enjoy your Smart Wand as a sex toy or a massage tool, I'm sure you'll have many delightful experiences! Thank you, Good Vibrations, for sending me these elegant Smart Wands.








Monday, September 03, 2012

Fiction for Sex-Positive Seniors

It's often frustrating to me that most contemporary fiction doesn't reveal truths about my world as an older person. I'm always looking for books by writers of our generation about strong, senior characters. Given my own endless fascination with sex and relationships, I want the characters I read about to be sex-positive and in interesting relationships -- or have interesting attitudes and activities if they're not in relationships.

I've compiled a few novels and short story anthologies that I've enjoyed lately whose authors and characters are men and women of our age and don't shy away from sexuality. These recommended books portray characters whose sex lives are rich and varied--in reality for some, in their memories or imaginations for others.


Widow: Stories by Michelle Latiolais. I happened upon this collection of short stories accidentally -- the title caught my eye because as a widow myself, I'm always grasping for understanding of how one goes on to live and love after the profound loss of a spouse. About a third of these stories are told from the point of view of widows; the others are narrated by women who experience loss in different ways. I had to ration myself to one story a day, because I needed time to think about -- and sometimes recover from -- what I had read. This passage, for example, made me cry, but I love it.
"For all her culture's attention to the physical, it seemingly has little to salve the creatural anguish of losing someone else's body, their touch, their heat, their oceanic heart. 'Are you dating yet?" In other words, get another body ... she doesn't want another body, she wants the body she loved... One wants what one has loved, not the idea of love."


An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer. Edward Schuyler is a 62-year-old science teacher who is mourning the death of his wife. "Their sex life was more vibrant than anyone, including themselves, would have imagined," we're told early on. Grief is treated realistically: although Edward's friends and family encourage him to start dating again, he worries that closing the door on grief might mean closing the door on his precious memories. (How real that felt to me!)  He does start dating, and his fumbling attempts are endearing because we understand what he's feeling. "I'm heartbroken... and I'm horny. There was an icebreaker for you." If the mix of grief and dating intrigues you, you'll be glad you read this novel.



Smut: Stories by Alan Bennett. If the title gets your attention, that's intentional, but the book really isn't "smutty" by our standards, though the characters' actions would be considered smutty by their peers. This little book offers two long short stories, "The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson" and "The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes" by a British dramatist born in 1934. Mrs. Donaldson is a 55-year-old widow (she seems older to me) whose job is role-playing medical conditions for doctors in training in an array of entertaining scenarios. She takes in boarders, college students who can't always pay the rent, and so she watches them having sex instead. The other story deals with a narcissistic, closeted gay man who marries a woman and has trysts with a  man who blackmails him; his mother; and his father who -- no, I don't want to give away that part.


Breaking Out of Bedlam by Leslie Larson. Cora Sledge, an 82-year-old widow, has been forced to leave her home for an assisted-living facility because her kids have decided (and rightly so) that she's a danger to herself. She decides to write a scandalous, tell-all journal about her life -- past and present. Her story is sometimes tragic and often harsh, but because of her/Larson's manner of telling it, it's also hilarious. Add to the mix a romance in the nursing home (is he devoted? or trying to use and cheat her?) and a bit of a mystery-- and did I mention that you'll enjoy the sex scenes?



In One Person by John Irving.  I've saved this gem for last because it's my favorite book of the year so far. The main character is a bisexual, 68-year-old man looking back at the influences -- many of them sexual -- that shaped his life. I'll never forget Miss Frost, though it would be a spoiler to tell you why. This compelling, beautifully written novel will make you think about the people and events along your own life's journey that helped you form your sexual identity and attitudes. It's a long book (448 pages), but I can't imagine you wanting to put it down. I listened to the Audible Audio edition, which is superb.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Slim Glass Toys from Joyful-Pleasure.com

When I reviewed The Twister from Joyful-Pleasure.com, I complained that as gorgeous as it was, it was a tad too girthy for my personal joyful pleasure. Since glass -- delightful as it is! -- is hard and has no give, toys feel larger than they are. Joyful-Pleasure was eager to send me an array of lovely glass toys that are slender, sleek, exciting, and beautiful enough to put on display.

Why glass? Isn't that dangerous? Nope. These works of art are sturdy and fracture resistant. They feel smooth and luscious. My favorite part of using glass toys is that they can be safely and sensually heated or chilled. I personally like to chill mine in the refrigerator for a while before use -- the sensation of cold, smooth glass in the vagina is intense.

These lovely products were provided by Joyful-Pleasure.com, the company that makes these hand-blown glass toys. The link for each product goes to Joy Hollywood, where you can purchase them at a surprisingly low price.



Joyful Plant: This is one of my favorites because it's small -- 4 insertable inches, just an inch wide at the widest part. It's a great starter glass toy if the idea of glass worries you a little -- you can thrust, twirl, or wiggle it with no danger of it going too deep. (Just hold onto the "stem.") If your vaginal opening is tight, this is the toy for you.  
 
 
24K-Double Pleasure: Isn't this beautiful? This toy does double duty -- each end is insertable. One tapered end has raised nubs for your pleasure; the other end has raised swirls. (Don't worry about how long it looks -- you don't insert the whole thing. The end you're not inserting becomes the handle.) 

 
Hot-Pepper Pleasure: If you like a really slim sex toy, this is the one for you. The tip of the insertable end is super slender, and this one might even work as a dilator if you're having trouble with penetration. Otherwise, the slender shape lets you angle the "pepper" towards your g-spot.
  

Sinful Pleasure. Although the dimension details claim that the width is 1.5”, this one is slightly more at the bulbous part of each end. I prefer the slimmer and/or more tapered shapes for comfort, but if that’s not an issue for you, this is a gorgeous product.
 


Have you tried any of these glass toys from Joyful-Pleasure.com? I hope you'll add your comments.I love to hear from you because our experiences are all different, and your experience will help readers as much as mine.

(However, if you're a sex toy retailer, I don't permit links that compete with the retailers I endorse and who provided the products, so don't do that -- spammy, highjacking comments and links won't see the light of day.)

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