Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sexual Ageism: It Always Amazes


The older I get, and the more I read, go to the movies, and write, I'm increasingly amazed at how difficult it is to find compelling, empowering plot lines in novels and film that shine a positive, celebratory focus on the sexuality of women over the age of fifty-five. In fact, older women are effectively rendered invisible except as matronly asexual grandma types - as if we got to be grandmothers by way of some long-ago forgotten or abandoned magic. I’m not sure why that is, except perhaps, because of  US culture’s continued, tedious and myopic obsession with either caricaturing or erasing the sexual identities of over 70 million of its female residents. This seems to be a glaring omission, since that’s the estimated number of midlife and older women currently alive in the US.

In my capacity as a teacher and speaker, I consider myself deeply fortunate to work with lots of smart, candid and creative women who fit into this age group. Especially in my Human Sexuality classes, their intimate and exuberant talk is usually grounded in their enormous enthusiasm about sharing the feelings of empowerment, autonomy and resilience that characterize the sexuality of women in later life.  

They’re also almost always thrilled to learn about the ways in which remaining sexually active can improve the quality of our lives throughout our 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond! Whether we are straight, lesbian, bi, or trans, remaining active sexually can reduce many of the annoying physical changes we experience as we age. For example, having an orgasm can help with pain relief from conditions like arthritis since orgasms release powerful endorphins in the brain. They can also help protect our hearts and assist in lowering blood pressure in women. As if that’s not enough, having an orgasm can increase joint flexibility as well as assist in headache relief for many women, regardless of age.

And while it’s true that straight women can expect to outlive their partners by an average of six to eight years in the US, orgasms can be equally delicious and useful whether you’re engaged in partnered sex… or yummy sex for one!


Do you have any thoughts about why more people don’t talk and or write about post-menopausal women and sex?


photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vasculata/1434800/">Steve Schwartz</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

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