From a reader: “Do not know whether to pity you or envy you for what seems like a bizarre obsession with sex.”

To her credit, she posted this to my Messenger account rather than, flamingly, on my Facebook page. To her credit, she said, “seems like.”

Still, there is so much to unpack here, where do I begin?

I could start with feeling hurt, until I realize the question (I take her sentence as a question) isn’t personal. It’s not her question. It’s not aimed at me. I get myself untangled from feeling hurt.

There is something about aging and sex that attracts shaming. 

I respond to her, “Definitely, envy me.”

Othering is the process of perceiving or portraying someone or something as fundamentally different or alien.

Othering is an evolutionary response. Othering began way before human beings arrived on the planetary scene.

There is something about aging and sex that evokes Othering. While most cultures expect sexual exploration among the young (part of the mating ritual), very little sexual openness in older people is tolerated. We tend to expect propriety from our elders.

There is something about about aging and sex that attracts shaming. 

When I became old enough to parse my emotions, I thought there was something wrong with shame. Experiencing it was so uncomfortable, so destabilizing, I wanted to run away and avoid it at all costs. I wanted to defend myself against it.

We all know sex has always been a target for judgment. And, oh, can we human beings judge—it’s an international pastime.

Now I see it as a social construct, a way to manage ourselves and each other from potentially threatening behaviors. Those behaviors don’t necessarily have to be threatening, they just have to appear to be threatening. For example, if someone else is older and having sex, that won’t harm me; it won’t kill me. But based on my beliefs and what I identify with, it may seem harmful to me. Humans are really practiced at stopping the behavior of others, rather than questioning our own beliefs.

“Bizarre obsession.”

If I had been involved in something other than sex, would it have triggered such a reaction?

“Do not know whether to pity you or envy you for what seems like a bizarre obsession with quilting…with Mexican food…with gardening…with scrapbooking.”

Or, if I were 22 or 36 or 45 would sex appear to be a bizarre obsession?

If God wanted older women to have sex, why would He have created menopause?

We all know sex has always been a target for judgment. And, oh, can we human beings judge—it’s an international pastime.

Entire religions are built around biases against sex—especially, if you are a human with a vagina.

But then when you add aging into the equation—aging women not just having but also enjoying sex—you have a recipe for a bizarre obsession.

If God wanted older women to have sex, why would He have created menopause?

I say, if God didn’t want older women to have sex, we would have lost our clitorises along with our capacity to produce eggs.

In 1850, the average life expectancy for a human being was 38. A lot of women never arrived at menopause. Most of us were too dead to have conversations about sex and aging.

A lot of us now live a long time after menopause, giving us lots of time to do quilting, eat Mexican food, learn to garden organically, put many scrapbooks together, and have a bunch of great sex.

Did you know that the physical benefits of a “bizarre obsession with sex” include…?

  • Improved bladder control
  • Reduced incontinence
  • Stronger pelvic muscles
  • More vaginal lubrication
  • Less likeliness of significant vaginal atrophy (or thinning of vaginal walls)

And the mental benefits of a “bizarre obsession with sex” include…

  • Better memory, for sexually active adults between ages 50-90, according to research
  • Less likelihood of feeling depressed and lonely
  • Increased confidence

And, what about growth and learning and exploration?

What about risking and stretching?

The benefits go on and on.

So in one paradigm, we have expansion. On the othering side, we have threat and fear and contraction.

And, as always, we get to choose.

1 COMMENT

  1. As always…awesome. I had a crappy partner for years and thought I didn’t want sex any longer. Things were dry until we broke up and I met a sexy man. Everything was cured. Didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to talk about sex…I stop short of giving details but just let the other person deal with their issues and they rarely say anything to my face.

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