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.