Saturday, March 26, 2011

Senior Strip with Centrum Silver

I don't know how I missed this commercial and the ensuing brouhaha in 2007, but I'm on it now! Watch this Centrum Silver commericial before you read on:

So how did you respond to this? I admit I laughed, I enjoyed it. But as a self-professed advocate for ageless sexuality, was I supposed to find it offensive? Hmmmm.

Does it make fun of old people who have sexual thoughts/actions, or does it shout the message that we're never too old to be sexually adventuresome (even if only in our own mind)? Are the old people the brunt of the joke, or is it the shocked staffer in the doorway? Clearly part of the message is that  we see ourselves as younger than others see us, and we do! Not to this extreme, of course -- that's what makes the video funny.

[AsideThis past week I tried on clothes in front of a well-lighted, 3-way mirror in an upscale store and faced my body in underwear with dismay. I preferred the view ten pounds ago -- and before my cataract surgery! And lest you draw my attention to my "Older women wear lingerie" post, thank you, but let's just say that parts have been shifting, plumping, and loosening since then. Since I hate the stereotype that wrinkles can't be sexy and we're supposed to be a certain size and shape, I'm owning my body as it is now. Just had to tell you that, though.]

Ronni Bennett
Back to the commercial -- I went looking for commentary on it from seniors, and found that elderblogger Ronni Bennett posted about this video in 2007. (If you don't follow Ronni's blog, Time Goes By: what it's really like to get older, you should.) She quotes Chuck Nyren, who writes a blog,
Advertising to Baby Boomers, and said in his post about this commerical that the elders in the last scene should have been hot looking Boomers.

Chuck Nyren
Although I agree with Nyren that the ad would have appealed more to Boomers that way, isn't that propagating the stereotype that the age for feeling sexy stops at 61? What do you think?

Friday, March 25, 2011

"Promise me you'll keep doing your work..."

 "Promise me you'll keep doing your work," Robert said, taking both my hands in his and pressing them to his heart, looking deeply into my eyes.

It was three years ago -- end of March 2008 -- and we had learned that his body was succumbing to multiple myeloma. There were treatments we could and would try, but this conversation marked the countdown to the end, as I think back on it.

He would have one more month of health -- fatigued, but able to live the way he loved -- going to his art studio to paint, dancing joyfully, and loving me as if his life depended on it (and maybe it did). Then, as treatments failed, his back fractured in multiple places. The extreme pain led him into another world -- a world where love was not enough to heal or even ease the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. 

A world of preparing to die.

 "Promise me you'll keep doing your work..."

Our profound sexual connection had powered our relationship for our seven, soul-soaring years together. Neither of us had ever had a relationship as sexually exuberant or as emotionally satisfying! Professionally, our spicy hot afternoon delights propelled me to switch writing topics from health and fitness to senior sex. Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty celebrated our love affair. We married in 2006, the year the book came out.

We already knew that our love wasn't "forever" the way young people think of it. Besides being seniors, we had the challenge of Robert's diagnosis -- at that point -- of leukemia and lymphoma. Our wedding celebrated not only our love, but that six months of chemotherapy had sent Robert's cancer into remission. We were told we might have ten or more good years of health, a magical gift.

But we didn't have ten years -- we had two.

 "Promise me you'll keep doing your work..."

March 2011: Two countdowns shift in my mind. In August, I'll face the 3-year anniversary of Robert's death. (When does it get easier?) But before that, in June, I'll welcome a new book into the world -- Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex -- the book I started working on with Robert. In fact, you'll see that he wrote part of the chapter, "Unlearning Our Upbringing: Men's Stories."

I think at our age, those of us who dare to live and love fully have this balancing act between the sweet surprises and rewards of living our dreams out loud and the inevitable losses. Robert gave me the right advice: "Promise me you'll keep doing your work." It sustains me and brings me great joy -- as does sharing it with you!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Friends with benefits" -- at our age?

I'm moving this post from 3/2010 to the top because of the recent comments -- I invite you to comment, also!

Can we have a bedmate who isn’t a soulmate -- or even a steady date -- at our age?

Miriam, age 57, wrote me this email pondering whether or not it’s possible to have a “friend with benefits” -- AKA "sex buddy" -- at our age, getting the perks of sex with someone we feel comfortable with, but don't consider a love relationship:

I read in Better Than I Ever Expected where you and others have had neighbors/ friends/ buddies you have sex with when in between partners. I never considered this option before and would like to explore it.

I eventually want another lifelong love. I could only consider having sex with someone I like and love. I'd like to try the sex-buddy approach, but I have a burning emotional question: Even if he's currently a friend who is willing to be a sex-buddy and there's not a chance between us for a long romance --how do you keep your oxytocin bonding feelings from taking over and locking onto your sex-buddy when you should be looking for a more robust, true love, like you had with Robert?

I'd love to know how to navigate this territory without getting derailed or distracted from my goal of finding a long term love. So who are good candidates? And what kind of parameters do you have with such a pillow pal? Monogamous with each other for the time being? Either one is free to have other partners? How do you end it?

I think you said in your book that you actually had a sex buddy when you first met Robert. How did you transition out of it? Any tips for how to make this successful?  

I had several sex buddies during my long decades of single life. These were men who were friends first, and we genuinely liked each other. We recognized and discussed honestly that we were not each other's true loves and we understood that our relationship would not develop in that direction.

Yet we were attracted to each other, and at the time we were not in other exclusive relationships. We did a lot of talking before we decided that we would enjoy being sex buddies.

We agreed from the beginning -- and I think this is very important -- that we would not be exclusive with each other, would not stop seeking that eventual soulmate, and if we started getting serious about someone else, we would terminate the sexual part of our friendship.

In my 30's and 40's, I had a dear sex buddy whom I enjoyed for many years, on and off (depending on whether one of us became involved in another relationship that needed to be monogamous). We were good friends in and out of bed.

But that was largely hormone-driven. Now other sexual needs drive us than our hormones -- we want to be touched and held, we love our arousal and our orgasms, we love the high of sex with an enjoyable partner and the laughter and intimacy afterwards. You're right that our bonding brain chemicals could play tricks on us and convince us were' in love when the sex is good, even though our logic says no.

The person you mention who was my buddy for two years (I was 55-57) right before Robert and I became involved was in a committed relationship with someone with disparate sexual needs. My friend and I met with his mate and discussed what would be acceptable. We agreed to do only what didn't feel threatening to my friend's partner. This worked out very well. But I know this is rare. We were, all three of us, unusually verbal and honest, with good communications skills and a solid friendship. 

Then, when Robert and I shared our first kiss, I immediately broke things off with my buddy, who understood and wished me well. We stayed close, Platonic friends -- and we still are.

Of course I was honest with Robert, who was understandably uncomfortable about the whole business -- he had never had such a relationship, and didn't understand or like this. So be aware, if you enter into such a relationship, that you might encounter this, too.

Robert eventually got to know my buddy and like him, though he continued to furrow his brow and shake his head at what seemed to him to be very odd behavior!

Miriam also asked me this:

Who are the candidates? When I think of my single male friends, overwhelmingly, I consider them like brothers, and there's no sexual vibe at all. The only other candidates would be former lovers, if we've been able to separate amicably and maintain a friendship. I'd be willing to try that, but then I'm concerned about that oxytocin bonding boost. Since I have already been in love with them once, I fear I'd get too bonded to them again, and stop putting out energy to be available for anyone else, even though I know there's no romantic long term future with them. But the sensual touch sure would be nice!

I would not return to a former lover whom I had loved for this experiment. It just seems full of potential problems, because your earlier emotions could kick in easily.

Readers, help us here. Where did you find a sex buddy who was emotionally safe? How did you approach a friend with an offer of FWB? I hope you'll comment.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Senior Sex: Solo Style

Just when society is starting to accept that seniors are having -- and enjoying! -- sex, some of the most outspoken, sex-positive, seasoned women among us are not having sex. Some are choosing celibacy for now, some have fallen into it. Can we still be sex educators, sex writers, and sex activists if our orgasms are solo and we sleep with our pets? Yes!

Candida Royalleknown for pioneering the genre of woman-friendly erotic films and the Natural Contours line of intimate massagers, is the author of How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do. Candida wrote a marvelous piece for my new book, Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex (coming this June -- finally!) about the importance of keeping ourselves sexually heathy when we're not in a relationship.
How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do: Sex Advice from a Woman Who Knows
At age 59, Candida says she's not in a hurry to find a new partner, but "I am committed to having a date with myself at least once a week to exercise my PC muscle, which runs along the pelvic floor and surrounds the entire vagina. Then I reward myself with a nice little session of self-pleasuring."

Erica Manfred, divorced at sixty, is the author of He’s History You're Not: Surviving Divorce After Forty. Erica contributed helpful tips to Naked at Our Age for getting through the devastating emotion- and ego-slamming period of a later-life divorce. 

He's History, You're Not: Surviving Divorce After 40In a recent Huffington Post article, Erica writes that at age 68, she has decided to give up on dating and sex. "It takes a hell of a lot of energy to date at my age," the former sexual enthusiast writes. She's not closing off the possibility of "getting my mojo back" in case Mr. Senior Right shows up at the supermarket, but she's abandoning the online dating sites and cuddling her chihuahua.

Rachel Kramer Bussel is, at 35, the youngest of our sex-positive celibates. Rachel is an erotica author, sex columnist, and editor of 38 anthologies, including my favorite series: Best Sex Writing 2008, 2009 and 2010.

In an article she wrote for SexIs Magazine, Rachel revealed that she's abstaining from sex and dating until her 36th birthday. (Note that the"sex" she is giving up is "physical, genital contact with another person," leaving her free to indulge in phone sex and cybersex -- fair enough.) She made this choice so that she could examine her "relationship errors" and "inappropriate attachments" and not go chasing immediately after the next hot encounter.

Is it hard to write about sex all day and not go after it at night? "Am I missing out on what’s supposed to be my sexual peak?" Rachel wonders. "Maybe friends with benefits is the best life can offer me and I’m being foolish or stupid to hold out for something more fulfilling. Or maybe I’ll find that I like being on my own so much I don’t ever want to actually join forces with someone else."

I've divulged my own celibacy since losing Robert -- on this blog in a shy way, and with more candor in Naked at Our Age (you'll see!). I've started to date again, which so far means a series of sexless first dates. I've had some excitement (again, you'll have to wait for Naked at Our Age!) but without the culmination of inviting a partner into my body.

Senior sex is still my intellectual, emotional, and career passion. My mission to normalize later-life sexuality in the eyes of society is as important to me now as when Robert and I were curling each other's toes. I know I'm getting somewhere when seniors are seen as oddities when they're not having sex!

As always, I welcome your comments!

Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Size My Sex Toys, Please!

 Women have their choice of sizes for bras and shoes, which is a good thing, because obviously our breasts and feet are all different shapes and sizes. So why haven't sex toy designers/ manufacturers realized that our genitals are all different shapes and sizes, too?

Okay, it's obvious that we are, and it's also obvious that good sex toys would cost even more than they do now if they either came in a variety of sizes or were made to be adjustable.

But let's say we're buying a "rabbit" vibrator -- a.k.a. "dual action" -- which means that one vibrator has an innie for vaginal/g-spot stimulation and an outie for clitoral stimulation. Since I review sex toys, I get to try many different varieties, and I've sampled at least a dozen rabbits that don't work for me at all. If they hit the spot internally, the clitoral-stimulator doesn't land where I want it, and vice versa.

Unfortunately, the information details on the retailers' sites generally include only length and circumference or diameter of the insertable part, but no way to gauge how close the two parts are, or anything else that might impact our enjoyment of a particular toy.

Besides, how many of us know our own measurements? Can we ask our gynecologist, "Hey, could you measure the distance from vaginal opening to clitoris?" And since I can't bear a cervix battering toy, I'd also ask, "While you're in there, how deep is my vagina from entrance to cervix?" (Readers: don't tell me to insert a ruler, please, and yes, I know we're expandable, but still....)

This rant started out as the prelude to a review of an absolutely gorgeous and expensive vibrator that fits all wrong, but I think I'll stop here and see what you have to say. 

Your comments are welcome. (Please don't use this as an opportunity to promote vibrator retail sites other than the ones I endorse on this blog, though. I delete comments that try to hijack my readers to sites I haven't checked out and endorsed.)

Enjoy my other sex toy posts here.

I first posted this in November 2010 and am posting again, hoping to get more comments from you. Any sex toy designers who want to work with me, please let me know!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Seasoned Woman Looks Back

1944: Joan, age 1, with mother

Today is the 100th International Women's Day. One hundred years!

I'm a seasoned woman -- age 67 as I write this -- and I remember accepting blindly the women's roles and attitudes I was taught growing up. I watched my mother -- a brilliant woman who wanted to be a doctor her whole life -- working as a lab assistant in my father's ob/gyn medical office. No wonder she was bitter as she slapped down dinner after a long day running pregnancy tests with mice and rabbits.

Thanks to remarkable feminists who dedicated their lives to changing what we could expect from our lives, I was able to unlearn my upbringing, shake off society's roles, and go for what I wanted. My mother died unhappy, but I live pursuing my interests and dreams.

My self-discovery journey took me on many different paths and through several metamorphoses over the decades -- high school English teacher, aerobics instructor, health/fitness writer -- to who I am now:  senior sex activist/ educator/ speaker/ author who teaches line dancing for fun, exercise, and balance!

It's fitting that on the 100th International Women's Day, I discover this video: "Satisfaction the Granny Remake for EqualPayday." Thanks to Sarah Forbes, Curator of Sex at New York's Museum of Sex, for posting it on her blog in honor of International Women's Day and titling her post "Using Senior Sex to Sell an Equal Pay Day" so it would get my attention!

Watch it and tell me what you think:

Monday, March 07, 2011

I Can't Ride the iRide

Sometimes a sex toy looks like more fun than it is. When I saw the iRide, I begged Eden Fantasys to send it to me for review. Since Eden Fantasys appreciates knowing how their toys work from a senior perspective, I received it quickly.

I had to laugh unwrapping it -- it's a boat of a sex toy!

Designed for mounting, it has a pink penis ("probe" is the technical term) and a clitoral "bump." It's huge (the launch pad is 13" long), bright fuchsia pink, funny to look at, and rather intimidating. Do NOT buy this toy for a novice sex-toy user!

And don't buy it for girth-challenged, older women. The pink penis is 1.6" at the widest part. It's not long -- 3.5" insertable length -- but the width made it uncomfortable for me. Maybe it's just me, but my maximum width for an insertable toy is 1.5" and this 1.6" wide (it doesn't sound that much bigger, but past the max is past the max), hard rubber penis stretched my limits and felt too hard and uncomfortable.

I've read other reviews from women who enjoy bouncing on the iRide but found the clitoral bump too hard. I can't imagine bouncing on it, and I couldn't even get far enough onto it (or it into me) for the bump to find my clitoris. You can't get close to the clitoral knob unless you're all the way impaled, something I didn't manage to achieve. (No, I will not make a video of my attempts, as comical as they were.)

If you have no problem enjoying 1.6" girth, you may enjoy this a lot. The control buttons -- one for the penis, the other for the bump -- are easy to find and use, and the vibrations are intense. Hint for older women with arthritic knees: Prop the whole iRide up on a pillow before you straddle it.

The iRide takes 4 AA batteries behind the battery door, easy access and well away from lubricant and clean-up splashes as long as you're careful.  Eden Fantasys sent me some Afterglow toy wipes for simple clean-up.

Thank you, Eden Fantasys, for letting me review the iRide. Sorry it didn't work out for me!

(If you're in or near Sebastopol, CA, and you are screaming, "Joan! Let me have your iRide!" email me.)

11/2011 update: A reader wanted my iRide, I sent it to her, and she reports that the size is fine for her and she's enjoying it. Happy to know that! "You need to use pillows/blankets under it to get the proper angle. Wish it were silicone!" she adds.

Sex toys - EdenFantasys adult toys store

Saturday, March 05, 2011

ToiBocks: Store and Hide Your Toys

What a lovely gift is the ToiBocks!  This reddish brown wooden box is 11" long by 7" wide by 6.25" tall and is lined with dark red fabric. It looks like a jewelry box and sits tastefully on the dresser. But it's more than a jewelry box -- it's a sex toy storage box!

The ToiBocks has a shallow, top level where you can store small toys and a deep, lower compartment that stores medium-size toys. My goodness, how many toys it can store, as you see!

Important note: I piled a bunch of toys together to show you how much room there was and to let you have fun identifying the toys, if you're so inclined. However, never store silicone toys touching each other -- they can degrade, melt, get tacky, and otherwise interfere with the long life of quality toys. So if you want to stuff a bunch of toys in the ToiBocks -- and that's the point, after all -- keep each toy in its own little storage pouch. That's what I did after I was done taking photos.

The cool thing is that the bottom compartment is -- ssshhhh -- secret because it's locked. No prying eyes or fingers will figure out how to get into it. In fact, we who own the ToiBocks are sworn to secrecy. All I can tell you is that there's a magnetic "key" that lets you access it if you know how, and you won't know how until you read the instructions.

This is very cool if you need to hide your toys. At my age, though, with no need to lock anything except my door, the automatic locking system is more a hassle than an attribute. That's because even knowing the secret system, it took me a dozen tries the first time and five tries the second time to get the lovely wooden box open. As far as I know, there's no way not to lock it. I'm sure that Eden Fantasys, the fine folks who sent me the ToiBocks for review, will let me know if there's a secret way to keep it unlocked, or maybe I'll just get more proficient at opening it.  

(Next day update: Yep, I can unlock it on the first or second try now. I had to develop a safe cracker's ear to know when the magnet was ready for action.)

(Two days later update: Thank you, ToiBocksDawn for telling me how to keep it unlocked, see comments.)

I'm often asked by men which toys to buy their women partners, and I always tell them that choosing a sex toy is so individual that women would rather choose for themselves. (Am I right?) But you can't go wrong buying her a lovely wooden "jewelry" box to show how sex-toy-positive you are. Please, though, stick around and learn together how to unlock it, okay? 

Thank you, Eden Fantasys, for sending me the ToiBocks for review!

(I see that the ToiBocks is out of stock at the moment -- Eden Fantasys assures me they'll be back in stock 3/14/11.)

Sex toys - EdenFantasys adult toys store