I bet you’re like me. Aging, but not really feeling that you fit in the “Old” category. I will be 59 next month and while I’m a senior citizen in some areas, I’m far from Senior. At least as I view myself.
Research topics on seniors and sex, or even over 50 and sex and you’ll find only material about “old” people—over 70. When I read mainstream content it’s about hooking up and “cum” and why I might want to engage in bar-hopping and other social activities that don’t reflect my mature age. And, if I want to watch erotic movies or read about and see women anywhere close to my age engaged in meaningful sex? Forget it.
We are almost invisible when it comes to sexual messaging, education and entertainment.
There are very few age-appropriate images or content in the media. The target audience is the 20-30 age group. Photoshopped bodies, extreme athleticism in the bedroom and the Hollywood version of orgasms set women up to feel inadequate. Women over 50 are portrayed as arthritic, constipated, facing osteoporosis, or dried up due to menopause. Men get Viagra, we get lectures.
I recently participated in a Huffington Post Live interview, Ageless Sex, with four other older men and women. Our interviewer was a perky, young 20-something. She seemed a little uncomfortable with our open sexuality. A 60-something man who reports having sex twice a night? Women in their 50s-70s embracing an active sex life? A sex life that is EXACTLY like the sex the 20-somethings are having?
Because I think that’s the issue—people assume that “real sex” stops at some magic age. I’m not sure what they envision, but it’s not a 65-year-old couple who could outshine Anastasia and Christian in the bedroom. It’s not a 55-year-old woman giving her guy the blow job of his life. Our society associates aging with decline and therefore views older adults as incapable of having sexy, intimate moments with a partner. Our sex is portrayed in a caricature-like fashion—if it’s even depicted.
The problem is that we aren’t talking about our sex lives. We tend to spend more time trying to recapture our youth than relishing and exploring all the delightful aspects of being the age we are. Right now.
Why does it even matter? Because we want to see ourselves reflected in the world around us—positively. We want sex toy makers to realize our needs and market to us. We want to buy lingerie that fits well, is sexy and realistically sized. We want to see television ads for anti-aging products being shown on women who are slightly older than the average teen to college age models. We want to see movies made for older adults, with men and women living active lives—and that includes sex.
When we don’t see ourselves represented in mainstream culture it becomes difficult for some women to deal with the issues that pop up around aging and sexuality. Who can we turn to? Where are our role models? The FAQs written for women over 50? Who’s talking realistically about the impact of erectile dysfunction on women?
This fun 31-second video was made by the Safer Sex For Seniors organization. It is a playful exploration of sex positions, using full-clothed seniors, but the message is about safe sex, condoms and sexually transmitted infections. The broader message? Older adults can and are engaging in sex that is just like the sex we were having in our 20s.
Embrace your sexuality. Don’t let others shape or dictate your experience as a sexual being. Don’t be influenced by the “aging is bad” message you see everywhere. Because you and I both know the real truth—it is better after 50.
Next week: Readers choice. Leave me a comment.