It occurs to me that after 11 years of talking out loud (shouting, insisting, cajoling, writing) about senior sex, the questions that interviewers ask me have become quite intelligent and open-minded.
When I first started this work, interviewers would ask elementary questions (e.g. “Is it true that seniors are having sex?”) and would often place a value judgement on what they heard (e.g. “Yeah, but eeuuww, the idea of my parents/grandparents having sex…!”)
But now, however young the interviewer is, there’s an open attitude, a nonjudgmental striving to understand. It’s not such an odd idea anymore that we aren’t retiring our genitals at some arbitrary age. This is progress! Or am I just lucky enough to be interviewed by smarter, more sex-positive interviewers?
One topic that interviewers find endlessly fascinating is that we’re not settling into old age passively or predictably. Many of us decide that it’s time to go after what we want, whether or not it’s what we used to want or ever thought we’d want.
I wrote about this in the “Stretching Boundaries” chapter of The Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50, and many of you contributed your experiences in the “Off the Beaten Path: Nontraditional Sex Practices and Relationships” in Naked at Our Age. I’m often asked, “What percentage of seniors are into kink?” or “Are many seniors polyamorous?” or “Are most seniors happier with their sex lives than they were when they were young?” I sometimes answer, “I don’t collect statistics — I collect stories.”
Yes, some studies have been done, but more often than not, research and surveys either overlook our generation entirely or only study straight relationships and define sex as heterosexual intercourse, which is just one form of sexual expression. I don’t think that our generation is being asked the right questions about what we do, what we want, and how we feel about it.
So I’m opening this up to you: If you’re over 50 (lots older is fine!) and you find that your ideas have changed about what you want your sex life to be, please feel free to comment with your views and especially how those views have changed in recent years. Please give yourself a first name (doesn’t have to be real) instead of “Anonymous” and include your real age. (If you have any trouble posting a comment, email me with the subject line “blog comment: how and what” and include what you want to say, what name you want to use, and your age, and I’ll post it for you.)
I started this discussion on my Naked at Our Age Facebook page, which I hope you’ll read, “like,” and share. Thanks!
Learn more about my most recent book, The Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50. Order here for an autographed copy, purchase from your local independent bookstore, or order from Amazon.
A new book coming out in January… regular Sex At Our Age articles for Senior Planet… speaking gigs all over the country… a gazillion yet-to-be-answered emails from readers — with all that’s going on, you may notice gaps of two weeks or more between posts.
That doesn’t mean that I’m ignoring my mission to keep the conversation going about boomer and older-age sexuality — quite the contrary! I’m using my Naked at Our Age Facebook page to give you quick senior sex news and views and links to articles of interest to sex-positive seniors. You’ll also find questions I’d love to hear you discuss and occasional rants from me.
Here are some of the topics we’ve been discussing there:
- Single seniors: What has made you cringe that you’ve viewed or read on a dating profile?
- The lack of older adults in sexuality research.
- What does your favorite porn say about you?
- Men try sex toys for the first time video — our guys grumble about the message.
- Sex blogger Erica Jagger’s gynecologist says sex ends for women at 65.
- A midlife man talks about his body and posing nude.
- A Danish magazine interviews me about sex toys for seniors.
If you’re not following my Naked at Our Age Facebook page yet, visit the page, “like” it, comment on anything that grabs you, and visit often.
Don’t assume that you’ll automatically see that page in your news feed, even after you’ve “liked” it, though. Only a small percentage of the page’s followers do, because Facebook wants to encourage (strong arm) me to pay to promote the page. You can circumvent that problem by doing this:
- Go to my Naked at Our Age Facebook page.
- “Like” it if you haven’t already.
- Hover your cursor over the “liked” button to get a drop-down menu. Click “get notifications.”
Aha, now you’ll receive a notification from Facebook every time I update the page. (Thank you, Eva Gantz of Giving Books a Voice: Helping authors get smart about social media, for explaining this to me.)
Yes, I’ll continue to write this blog with topics that need more length and depth than a Facebook update allows. In fact, I have about five different posts in the hopper that I need to finish. Meanwhile, see you on Facebook?
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach is the most entertaining — and, in a madcap way, the most informative — book I’ve read in years. Filled with the weirdness of both the procedures and findings of sex research, Bonk combines arcane details with amazing facts and research tools (e.g. the “penis-camera).
Regale your friends with anecdotes from this book, and you’ll be the life of the party – as long as the party is filled with open-minded friends who enjoy zany details about sex.
Mary Roach writes in a clever, often hilarious style, which makes her books a pleasure to read, whether she’s writing about cadavers (Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers ), the afterlife (Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife), or, in this case, sex. My copy quickly became spotted with Post-Its as I read, marking passages I simply had to tell you about, but numbering an impossible 45 markers by the time I finished.
Here’s just a small sampling of the facts I learned:
Princess Marie Bonaparte (great-grand-niece of Napoleon) blamed her inability to orgasm during intercourse on the fact that her clitoris was three centimeters away from her vagina. She did her own research in 1924 with a ruler and interviews and discovered that “téléclitoridiennes,” women with more than 2.5 centimeters between clitoris and vagina, were incapable of orgasm during intercourse. So she employed a surgeon to relocate her clitoris. (No, sorry, it didn’t work for her.)
Women don’t like men’s cologne, according to their rate of vaginal blood flow. The scent of men’s cologne actually reduced vaginal blood flow, as did the smell of charcoal-barbecue meat. Oddly, what increased vaginal blood flow the most (by 13%) was a mixture of cucumber and Good’n’ Plenty candy. Hmmm.
[describing one of many sex machine inventions:] “The motor housing is the size of a lunchbox and is raised on one end, like a slide projector. A flesh-colored phallus on a stick slides quietly in and out. The erotic appeal seems limited. It would be like dating a corn dog.”
[describing another sex machine invention, called “Therapeutic Apparatus for Relieving Sexual Frustrations in Women Without Sex Partners”:] “At the base of the penial assembly was a wide, black, wiry cuff of fur-like or hair-like material. For the partnerless woman who wants not only the ultimate climax or orgasm, but also the feeling that she is having sex with a shoe buffer.”
You’ll learn about “uterine upsuck” in pigs and how Danish farmers increased their pigs’ fertility by sexually stimulating their sows to “upsuck” the semen better. Why it rarely worked to use an MRI to study couples having sex. How porn stars make extra money by having their orifices replicated into plaster casts which are then used for sex dolls. And what Mary Roach and her husband did in full view of scientists to further sex research.
Some of the most intriguing diversions are found in the footnotes. Did you know that Victorian gynecologists and urologists wouldn’t look at the nether parts of the women they were examining? Can you guess why men land in emergency rooms when they can’t remove their improvised cock rings? Or the strangest foreign objects that have been removed from rectums? (I can’t decide whether to vote for the frozen pig tail or the spectacles.)
I highly recommend Bonk for your own delight and as gifts for your sex-minded friends.
[Read my interview with Mary Roach here.]
Actually, I’m not worried. As Dr. Petra Boynton says in her astute blog post today that’s as smart as it is entertaining — “Where have all the g spots gone?”:
It’s pretty simple. Women are diverse. Some of us really enjoy vaginal stimulation by finger, penis, sex toy (or other item). Some women prefer clitoral, anal, breast or other stimulation. Research that tells us we should focus exclusively on one spot or ignore it completely does little to reassure us or enhance our sex lives.
We’re all different, and other than the brain and clitoris being our #1 and #2 pleasure organs (in that order), we all experience sexual pleasure a bit differently, sometimes a lot differently. Maybe, Boynton suggests, the G-spot has become the subject of so much media attention because “as any journalist will tell you it’s much easier to get a g spot past your editor than mention the clitoris.”
In this study, “Genetic and environmental influences on self reported g spots in women: A twin study,” soon to be published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine,1875 women, aged 22-83 with a mean age of 55, answered questions about sex in a mailed questionnaire. Women were asked about their sexual practices and activity, and how frequently they experienced orgasm during intercourse and through masturbation.
The study used twins because, supposedly, if the G-spot is truly genetic, then both twins would report having one, which apparently did not happen. Does that mean they don’t, though? I didn’t get in touch (so to speak) with mine, if indeed I do have one, until a digitally dexterous lover pointed it out (again, so to speak) to me. Did these twins share lovers?
I was surprised to learn that only the answers of heterosexual women who engaged in vaginal intercourse were counted — why was that? 71 lesbian and bisexual women were excluded “because of the common use of digital stimulation among these women, which may bias the results.” Wait a minute. Can’t we learn the most about the elusive G-spot from women whose primary sexual expression is digital? I’m confused.
For me, the bottom line is this: Whether the G-spot exists or not, I hope you’re enjoying yours!
Don’t miss this spoof from the Daily Mash, MEN WHO CARE ABOUT THE G-SPOT ARE A MYTH, SAY EXPERTS.
Thank you, Dr. Petra Boynton — researcher, sex educator, and “agony aunt” — for your blog post that spurred mine, and for the diagram above.