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Sex and Aging

July 15, 2014 by Heather Cole

This blog was conceived at my dining room table on the eve of the demise of my almost decade-long marriage. I was near 40, and I was preparing myself as best I could to start my life all over again. This time with a child in tow. I remember being on the phone with Nikki and saying, “there have to be other 40-ish women like us who want to have active and fulfilling sex, and there have to be other people like us who want to read about sex, kink, and the real life that goes with it.” Age was a main theme in our writing before we published our first post. It was a theme that ran through our sexual evolution as we created and discovered our sexual identities again and again, and through this blog and the many other sex blogs out there, we confirmed that women “of a certain age” are still getting it on. Let me state for the record, hot and dirty sex didn’t stop at 40. Hell, it doesn’t have to stop until you choose to. According to a New York Time’s article in January of this year, “between 2007 and 2011, chlamydia infections among Americans 65 and over increased by 31 percent, and syphilis by 52 percent.” There are lots of people choosing to have sex (gasp!) as they get older. The saying is true, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. But women over 40 aren’t the focus of porn or the media when it comes to sex or desirability. We’re shown images that equate good sex with youth even though many of us acknowledge that better sex comes with age and experience. (Need evidence of that? Read this blog.)

Sometimes it feels like according to society at large, a woman goes through menopause and her sexual self simply falls off the map, as if her sexy, desirable self becomes invisible as her hair grays and wrinkles appear. The older you become, the more invisible you become in some ways. And I think that’s utter bullshit. If men are generally viewed as more distinguished as they age, then why can’t we recognize that women are too? Recently I’ve become more and more aware of older women in the media, because some day not that far away, I’m going to be her. What is dating going to be like in my 60’s? What is sex going to feel like after menopause? How am I going to adapt as my body ages? They’re questions I’m unable to answer until I’m having the experience, but one thing I know for certain. I want to feel healthy and at home in my skin, and I want to have a fulfilling sex life, even with wrinkles.

The other day I read this blog post by Robin Korth, a 59-year-old author and professional, about her dating life. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Reading the words, “your body is too wrinkly,” uttered by her 55-year-old love interest made me aware of the double-standard between older men and older women all over again. Do you think Metallica is getting that sort of dating feedback? I sincerely doubt it.

In case I thought the Korth experience was a fluke, the Universe pushed this Esquire article, In Praise of 42-Year Old Women, into my mailbox. I thought, I’m only 41, I should be psyched about this! And then I read: “There is simply no one as unclothed as a forty-two-year-old woman in a summer dress. For all her toughness, and humor, and smarts, you know exactly what she looks like, without the advantage of knowing who she is.” In other words, we can see your body, but we can’t get past the wrinkles unless we know how great your personality is so that we can pretend your body isn’t, um… old. <headdesk> Obviously the author thinks he’s complimenting women in my age bracket, but he’s actually delivering a slap in the face. (And not the kind I enjoy)

Thankfully, Ann Brenoff penned this response to the Esquire article in the Huffington Post, and I wanted to give her a standing ovation. She articulated many of my instinctive reactions to the piece. “You are wrong when you suggest that it was the women’s liberation movement that made it possible to find a 42-year-old woman appealing, or that 42-year-old women flock to yoga and pilates classes to be appealing to men. It isn’t that at all. We’ve been beautiful and smart and ambitious forever. You just can’t see it.”

I’m more than a 41-year-old woman in a sundress. I’m a fucking awesome woman in a sundress. To those people who choose only to see the physical signs of a woman’s time on this planet and count them against her, I feel sorry for you. You’re missing out, because we’re “beautiful and smart and ambitious forever.”

 

Sex and the Single Senior. New York Times. 18 of Jan 2014. web.


9 Comments »

  1. Deni says:

    I started “coming out” of my shyness shell when I was 38. I started writing my fantasies and some of my experiences when I was 39. I just passed the half century mark. My lovers (yes, plural) all tell me that I am the best lover they have ever had. I adore making/having sex! I make a concerted effort to keep my vagina toned and strong. Several of my male lovers have told me that most white women they have been with have no strength at all in their vaginal sheathe. My vaginal strength increases my own satisfaction and gives me more even pleasure than it does my male lovers. And let me tell you, they can’t get enough of it! Firm up your vagina, ladies. It’s wehre it’s at!

  2. Hi-
    I read this article and I would like to add a few things.
    I am a 51 year old divorced man, and while I can;t speak for others, I find women at my age and within a few years to be incredibly sexy and completely desirable! Not all women mind you, but when I get to kow a woman and start to learn about her and find myself to be attracted, it typically quickly changes from a purely physical atttraction to one where I want to please her because I like her and am attracted to the woman she is.
    I’m no underwear model…have never been for that matter, but when it comes to being attracted and wanting that connection with a woman for me…it isn;t going to matter wonce we become intimayte whether she has wrinkles or spots or scars….when I get to that point, I tune in and pay attention to her…and her responses to my efforts.
    I’m sure I’m like most people, with my own insesurites. But when things get romantic….only a complete ass would be dissuaded by anything physically imperfect about their lover…and in the best situations….and it’s a good relationship, it’s even more wonderful when you can actiually discuss our feelings and be more comfortable in overcoming both their and our own hang-up!
    One other thing I’d also like to add here… As a man “of a certain age”, it isn;t just women that are discriminated by Age-ism”. Nowadays it’s more the norm for older women to be beding younger men. I’m not against that…I just hate the “double standards”…and they go both ways!
    Ladies…if the right man is attracted to you, and he is attracted for allof the right reasons…then there really isn’t any reason why you can;t both enjoy a hearty physical relationshiop…whether it be casual or long term!
    I applud you ladies for writing this blog…I think it is both commendable and fucking awesome! Keep it going!

    Michael

    • Heather Cole says:

      You make an interesting point, Michael, about older women dating younger men. The old stereotype used to be about men going through a midlife crisis and trading their now older woman in for a younger (newer) model. But then the term “cougar” became a thing, and now it’s just as likely for older women to be dating younger men. The fact is that both men and women can discriminate about age when it comes to dating within their age bracket. You’re right, it does go both ways.

      Thanks for commenting! Hugs!

  3. Emily Tilton says:

    I have a very complex reaction to this subject, I guess, and that’s partly because (relatively open secret, that I doubt will be spread very far because of this comment, but if it is, that’s fine, and which I’m happy to have you wonderful ladies know) I’m biologically male. I think there *is* a double standard, but I think that it’s a result of women’s greater ability to look beyond the visual. The reason that matters to me is that I think we all need to come to much better terms with the overwhelming power of fantasy to transform “real” sex into AWESOME REAL sex. I wish we knew who said that that most powerful (or most erogenous? or something) sex organ in the human body is the brain.

    • Heather Cole says:

      Emily: I’m so glad you commented! And thank you for trusting us with your relatively open secret. :-) When I wrote the post, I was thinking too about how we transform the images around us, coupled with our desires, into erotic fodder, and how we turn those fantasies into real-life, fulfilling, hot sex. Are females better socialized to do this than males? And how does gender identity influence this process? I mean, is this really an issue of gender or is it more about those who can better utilize their brain (the largest erogenous zone in the human body) to apply their fantasies to the reality of their flesh-and-blood partner? I have to hand it to you. You blew my mind with this added layer of complexity, and I appreciate the added food for thought.

      • Emily Tilton says:

        Yes to all of it. :D

        I think it’s about developing that creative capacity, and I think (maybe both biologically and culturally) women have the edge. Take it back to Penelope of Ithaka, Odysseus’ wife: creative fiction comes more naturally to her than it does to her husband, and she gets the better of him in the end, with her trick about his bed. :)

  4. Just catching-up on all my emails today and found your wonderful post in my in-box.
    And re your: – “I want to feel healthy and at home in my skin, and I want to have a fulfilling sex life, even with wrinkles.”
    I KNOW, (as will any regular reader of your blog), you will have NO PROBLEMS at all Heather.
    AND, in fact, let me tell you . . . in my experience (the wrong end of the “40’s”) sex just gets better and better. And I’m sure you’ll have the same feelings . . . and I look forward to reading about them. LOL!!!
    Xxx – K

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