Let’s get the first thing settled here. I’m no sex expert. I’m certainly no expert on what you should do or shouldn’t do, or be or shouldn’t be, or have or shouldn’t have, in the area of your life called sex, or in any other area. Because it’s your life (in Mary Oliver’s terms, “Your one precious life”).

What I’m going to be talking about is sex. But since I’m the one doing the talking, and I’m 76 years old, it will be about sex from my particular perspective.

My favorite mentor, a man of great vision and expansive humor, would say—“The only thing important here is what you discover for yourself.” So, the experts say what they say, just the way your mother did, but ultimately, the only thing important for you is what you discover for yourself.

The second thing to get settled is, that as far as I can tell, if you’re wanting to read something from someone who takes the high road, know that mostly I’ve never taken the high road, so I won’t be talking about that. Have you ever been around someone who suggests you take the high road? Have you ever heard that in your one precious life? That isn’t me. It’s not that I’m against the high road, mind you, but I just haven’t come across it yet. Pretty much I’ve made my discoveries through failing on some stretch of the low road.

As long as you keep having sex and as long as you keep enjoying it, your body is tricked into thinking you are of childbearing age and gifts you with some of the benefits it bestows on young women, including a more open, optimistic point of view.

What I’m going to be talking about is sex. But since I’m the one doing the talking, and I’m 76 years old, it will be about sex from my particular perspective. There will probably be some things about sex for me at 21 and 39 and ages on the way to 76, but, for sure, I have things to say about sex and 76.

Let me contribute a hypothesis I’ve thought up, with no empirical backing whatsoever.  Here it is: As long as you keep having sex and as long as you keep enjoying it, your body is tricked into thinking you are of childbearing age and gifts you with some of the benefits it bestows on young women, including a more open, optimistic point of view.

You may be aware that joining the words ageing and sex gives the term a bad rap. It conjures up a host of clichéd images of horny old ladies and dirty old men.

You might ask, “But with the coming of age of the Boomers, popularizers of psychedelic drug use and rock and roll, hasn’t there been a shift in consciousness, an alteration of opinion about those clichés?”

I took a look. I went to the authority. I type into my browser: Books or movies that talk about ageing people having sex.

The first item the screen shows is: List of books and articles about Aging and Sexuality (so far, so good). The second is: Best Sellers in Children’s Sexuality (WTF?); followed by: Top Ten Ed Books for the Modern Parent; then several books about modern parents, teens, kids; I See Old People: All-Time Top 10 Movies about Aging; and, finally: Most Popular Bestiality, Sex With Animals, Taboo Sex Movies (remember, this is in response to a query about ageing humans and sex).

I alter my language. I type: Books or movies that talk about old people having sex. This started in a more promising fashion, with three titles related to the sex lives of people over 60, and then swiftly went downhill to: Funny old people on YouTube.

Here’s a thought exercise. The following paragraph is from a well-known novel:

“Come in me,” she said. She lifted herself up with her hands around my neck and kissed me. Then she reached down for me and pressed the head of my penis into her. ‘I want to feel us,’ she said. And when I lowered myself upon her and sank as deep as I could go, her voice was replaced by that high keening hum.”

As you read this and imagined the characters, what were their ages?  Was she 16, 27, 42?  Was he 17, 25, 44? What is your emotional response to picturing people of those ages fucking?

Or, was he 72 and she 76? And, what is your emotional response to those people fucking?

Are they the same, similar, different?

Consider, whatever your responses were, it’s fine. There are no correct or right or appropriate responses here.

Taking a wild flyer, I’m guessing some of us were left less than stimulated by the idea of ageing people have sex.

Is our disgust (if that’s what you experienced) purely a cultural artifact, something that might shift and change as human consciousness and the capacity for critical thinking expand and evolve? Or, is our disgust evolutionary, leaving us turned off by a sexual situation that doesn’t lead to childbearing.

Certainly, there are biological differences between our sexual equipment at 18 and at 75—vaginal dryness, the lack of ability to maintain an erection, etc. But I’m suggesting that the lion’s share of suspicion against the possibility of having great sex over a lifetime is psychological and ontological—a matter of imagination and being; a matter of calling the clichés and biases into question; a matter of experimentation and adventure; a matter of taking a stand for yourself, and standing and standing and standing. And, when you fall, picking yourself up and standing again.

When I was 51, I invented a possibility, a stand to live into regarding my health and vitality. I said, “Every year, till I die, I will be healthier and sexier.” And, I am.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for writing this, Joan. I hope lots and lots of people our age read this and start having a lot more pleasure together!!

  2. I so appreciate your clarion call! It makes sense to me that the conditioned responses may not be because of evolutionary programming as much as it’s a failure of the imagination and lack of exposure to healthy pictures of continued sexuality…
    (*furthered* sexuality?)

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