Monday, April 30, 2007

Stone Age Swingers

Darn, I keep saying that we Boomers invented sex, but I'm wrong.

According to an article by Roger Dobson in the Sunday Times Online (UK), prehistoric men and women left evidence of a swinging lifestyle: bondage, group sex, sex toys, and other evidence that even then, people recognized that sex was for fun, not just for procreation.

Dobson interviewed Timothy Taylor, reader in archeology at Bradford University, who reviewed evidence from dozens of archeological finds and scientific studies. “The widespread lay belief that sex in the past was predominantly heterosexual and reproductive can be challenged,” said Taylor. Intercourse, Taylor says, was "a vital part of social interaction, communication and inventiveness." His research has been published by Haworth Press in the Handbook of the Evolution of Human Sexuality.

Sue Katz Blog: Consenting Adult: Lust, Kink and Culture

Help launch me & my cleavage into the blogosphere...” writes Sue Katz in her first post on her blog, Consenting Adult: Rants & Reviews on Lust, Kink and Culture. Sue, approaching age 60, indeed bares her cleavage in her photo as well as her words on this provocative blog. I interviewed Sue, former professional martial artist and world traveller, and now a writer living in Boston.

JP: Your blog is called “Consenting Adult.” What’s the focus?

SK: I’m working on a book about kink and older people, so the blog is a place to explore many of those ideas. I focus on people over 45 and all things sexual – especially alternative sexualities. I write about culture – everything from books (bondage and beyond) and movies (I hated “Notes on a Scandal”). I also react to current events, such my recent piece about National Secretary’s Week. I have written about Jane Austen, reported on recent surveys (“Solo Play More Orgasmic than Partner Sex”) and compared partner dancing to kinky sex.

JP: How do you define “alternative sexualities”?

SK: I know from my own life that human sexuality is as elastic as the pants I wear to work out in. I was a butch lesbian until my 50s and now I’m in a relationship with a man. I believe people can get turned on in more ways than they might suspect – whether it’s kinky play or intimacy with someone of the same sex. Some people organize their love-life differently – such as those into swinging and polyamory. Other people explore fetishes – specific images or activities that curl their toes.

JP: What’s the connection with age?

SK: After a wild young adulthood, my sex life was pretty muted in my 40s. Like many women, after menopause I had this rush of horniness and since I met my boyfriend it has been extremely passionate. I started noticing that in many ways alternative practices suited aging lovers. For example, bondage or spanking don’t require hardness or wetness. There’s a whole body out there – beyond traditional intercourse – and many sweet sensations. I also started noticing that lots of older people are stepping out of old sexual habits into brave new thrills.

JP: Your final word?

SK: It’s not a coincidence that so many writers are looking at the heat our generation is generating – as we always have. I love your work, Joan, and am glad that so many of us are talking about our adventures openly. Thanks for inviting me!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dr. Ruth: Teach your lover what you need

Did you hear Dr. Ruth Westheimer talking about "Sex, Humor and Happiness" on NPR's Morning Edition April 24, 2007? If you missed it, you can listen to it here. Dr. Ruth's latest book is Dr. Ruth's Sex After 50: Revving Up Your Romance, Passion & Excitement!

Dr. Ruth, age 78, says that despite the cultural changes in sexual awareness and knowledge, she still gets asked all the same questions, and she would like women to be more open about communicating their needs to a lover. "Even the best lover can't bring a woman to orgasm if she doesn't teach him what she needs," she says.

That's expecially true as we get older. Women who have been in long term, joyful, sexy relationships with partners who knew exactly how to please them sometimes tell me that they just aren't responding the way they used to, even when a partner is doing exactly what used to send them into orbit. They worry that maybe they aren't interested in sex any more, and perhaps they should settle into a comfortable but sexless love life.

That might be fine, if both partners would be happy with that (ah, there's the rub!). But many women and men who talk me express that they really miss the heightened connection with their partner, the electrified responses they used to feel to his or her touch, and the crashing waves of release. And they miss the eager joy of anticipating sex. As one woman told me, "I want my sweet tooth back."

So how do we get that back, if we've lost it? First, we need to learn what these new, aging bodies need. We need to let go of the old "this used to work!" and learn what works now, exploring both alone and with our partner. Then when we understand better what elicits our responses -- what kind of touch, what kind of ambience, whatever it is for us -- we need to communicate this clearly, kindly, and helpfully to our partner.

I know I've just brushed the surface of this topic. We'll keep talking about this.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Does Your Doctor Talk to You about Older-Age Sexuality?

Have you ever consulted your doctor about your changing sexual responsiveness or about reclaiming your sexuality when you have a medical condition that makes sex more difficult?

What happened when you asked your doctor for advice about sex? How did he or she respond? Did you get the information you needed? And for the benefit of the medical professionals reading this -- how would you have liked your doctor to respond to questions about sex? What advice would you give professionals about how and when to talk to their older patients about their sexuality?

I am planning to write a magazine article about this topic, so please feel free to comment here or email me and let me know if you'd be willing to be interviewed.

As background, I wrote the post that follows in March 2006, and I'd like to revive it now that I have many more readers. I invite your comments.

[post originally dated 3/29/06:]

I've been speaking to groups in the midwest and the San Francisco Bay Area, and corresponding with readers who send me emails. Over and over, this comment comes up: older-age sexuality is a huge gap in the education of medical professionals.

I keep meeting doctors, nurses, therapists, and alternative practitioners who are hungry for information for their patients and clients -- and often for themselves. One woman's eyes got teary when she said, "I've been so lonely wishing I could talk to someone about this."

I've heard from women who have read my book and ask, "Why didn't my doctor ever tell me that I have to 'use it or lose it'?" These are usually older women who are not in relationships right now and didn't realize the importance of internal massage, regular orgasms, and Kegels to keep their vaginas tuned up and healthy, or penetation in the future might be painful. (For more information about what to do, read Vaginal Rejuvenation & Health from
A Woman's Touch, a wonderful sexuality resource center which I had the pleasure of visiting in Madison and Milwaukee.)

I'm also talking to many women over sixty who didn't know that lubricants and sex toys can enhance their sexual pleasure -- solo or with a partner -- by heightening arousal and speeding up orgasm. They thought that slow arousal and difficulty reaching orgasm were a part of aging that they had to accept. I'm distressed that many doctors tell women this -- often without running tests to see whether hormone levels or other conditions which may be treated might be affecting sexual response.

I'm not dumping on doctors, just on their training. I've been thrilled by the response of medical professionals to my book. One Santa Rosa, CA gynecologist bought 14 copies of my book for her patients -- and then, after she had given them all away, she bought 10 more!

Several readers have written in about their medical challenges since this post originally appeared. To read more on this topic, check on "medical attitudes towards sex and aging" or "cancer" in the "labels" column to the right, and you'll see other related posts.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Peter: "We don't need vibrators; we need lovers"

I love it when readers post comments here, or write me emails with their thoughts. Sometimes what they tell me is so provocative that I ask their permission to excerpt their email here, as I've done here. Peter, who attracted big reactions from his previous email about women not on HRT not wanting sex, has written this time out of concern that women are reaching for their vibrators instead of seeking out a lover. He writes:

I have noticed a trend that leaves me feeling a little sad, and yes, this is a criticism. The last response to what I wrote was advice from someone about a vibrator. I know the recipient was in her seventies and was a good target for that sort of advice, but it followed a pattern. I've felt a little unsettled at the preponderance of this.

I'd like to think we are all enlightened enough to not feel shame at admitting we get ourselves off more than we get off on someone else. So do we really need another tool to do this? I'm no square by any means, but I think porn is sad. And is that vibrator you recommend really the perfect lover?

We don't need vibrators; we need lovers. The problem is not orgasm; the problem is a loving connection. We are all social beings. We all suffer from the torture of social isolation, even those with spouses.

We need to break down the barriers that keep us from each other.

I need to clarify something -- much as I love and recommend sex toys for enhancing arousal, particularly when declining hormones make orgasm more difficult, I have never called a vibrator a "perfect lover"! I don't call it a lover at all. I would never trade the intimacy of a lover's touch for any amount of electric buzzing!

But realize this, also -- many women my age -- especially in more sexually conservative geographical areas -- don't know that sex-toy-assisted stimulation might bring back the response that they can't recapture on their own, with or without a lover. That's a separate issue from what you're saying, Peter, but I think it's important to include it.

Do we need ardent, sensitive lovers more than sex toys? Oh yes. Do we all have ardent, sensitive lovers? From what my readers tell me, unfortunately, no.

When I read comments and emails from both women and men who wish for a loving partner, I wish I could hold a mixer of my single readers!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Guy Talk about Sex after Sixty

Since Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty came out, I have been speaking to groups around the US and Canada, and one question keeps coming up from the men: Where is the book about sex after sixty for us? Although many men have read and enjoyed Better Than I Ever Expected -- and tell me they have learned a lot from it! -- it was written primarily for women and about women.

I'm listening, guys! You want a book that addresses your concerns, too, and includes men's experiences told by men.

I'm thinking about my next book now, and I'd like to know what you'd want to read: a book just about men and sex after midlife, or would you want a balance of men and women speaking out about their attitudes and experiences? Would you be more interested in the special challenges of dating after 50 or 60, or keeping a long-term relationship sexy, or both?

Women, would you like to hear guy talk about sex after sixty? Would you read a book aimed at men to know your man better?

Men and women, would you be interested in reading about couples who have kept their sex lives spicy and satisfying long-term?

What specific questions or topics would you hope to read?

I'm brainstorming my next book, and I await your input! Either click "comment" below or email me if you prefer. I look forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

How Old Are They Now?

Sophia Loren — 73 years old this year, and still radiant and sexy. (I don't know how old she was in this photo, but the last I saw her on a TV talk show, she looked fabulous.)

Thank you, Frank Kaiser of Suddenly Senior, for compiling this list of silver screen women who "found their way into our testosterone-laden high school hearts" at the drive-in and their approximate ages in 2007:

Annette Funicello — 65
Julie Christie — 66
Ann-Margret — 66
Elke Sommer — 67
Jill St John — 67
Stella Stevens — 70
Ursula Andress — 71
Julie Andrews — 72
Brigette Bardot — 73
Barbara Eden — 73
Debra Paget — 74
Joan Collins — 74
Julie Newmar — 74
Kim Novak — 74
Debbie Reynolds — 75
Liz Taylor — 75
Mamie Van Doren — 76
Angie Dickenson — 76
Leslie Caron — 76
Carroll Baker — 76
Rita Moreno — 76
Jean Simmons — 78
Jane Powell — 78
Shirley Temple — 79
Gina Lollobrigida — 80
Patti Page — 80
Esther Williams — 82
Doris Day — 83
Kathryn Grayson — 85
Gale Storm — 85
Kay Starr — 83
Jane Russell — 84
Lena Horne — 88

Marilyn Monroe would have been 81 this June 1st.

Women, what male stars do you remember idolizing and/or fantacizing about in your youth? If you know how old they are now, do tell!

My latest column for Suddenly Senior, "Safe Sex for Seniors: Tips for NOT getting a gift that lasts a lifetime," is now online . Check it out!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Best Life magazine: "a lot of kissing and touching and maybe a sex toy"

I'm quoted/mentioned extensively in "She Hunts by Night," an article by Colin McEnroe in Best Life magazine, April 2007, about "How to handle the (new) sexually empowered over-40 woman." McEnroe, a midlife man, says,

Many of us men spent the first half of our lives trying to talk women into having sex with us. Now we occasionally try to talk them out of it ... We live in a new culture of sexually empowered older women... The last two years have seen a rockslide of books both documenting and encouraging the sexual reblossoming of women age 40 and up.

... Joan Price told me she wrote [Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty] partly because she couldn’t find any books for people like her. Price is a fitness instructor from Northern California who found herself “in a new relationship and having the best sex of my life, but not without challenges.”She went looking for information and found “doom and gloom…you’re gonna wither and dry up…give it up…sex is for the young.”Price wrote a book that is solution oriented. By that, I mean there’s information about actual solutions you can rub on parts of you that aren’t as damp as they used to be, and there’s a chapter about sex toys, because Price believes that female orgasm, post-50, is “much more subtle and takes longer to get there … a lot of kissing and touching and maybe a sex toy.”

... “What we want from men is not what they think we want,” agrees Price. “Men think we want a raging erection and the ­Energizer bunny. We have always wanted foreplay. Now we want even more, so much that we don’t even want to call it foreplay. I actually recommend that older couples schedule lovemaking. Schedule it at a time of day when you both have a lot of energy, which is usually not when you’re falling asleep at night. There’s a reason they call it ‘afternoon delight.’ And schedule at least two hours.”

I want to point out here that my "two hours" recommendation isn't meant to intimidate anyone or suggest marathon, two-hour intercourse. Rather, the two hours includes all the "surroundings" of good sex that make it great: a long warmup; lots of kissing, touching, talking and laughing; leisurely sex; and time for cuddling and maybe even napping afterwards. It's a total experience of intimacy, not just the "go for the goal" part.