Is There An Age Limit On Bringing Sexy Back?
Seventy-year old Lynn Brown Rosenberg is proof that you are never too old to try new things – even if that new thing is becoming a freak-a-leek.
In a piece for Salon, Rosenberg, a self-describe nice Jewish girl, writes about her recent sexual awakening, confessing in part:
“I was sexually “conservative.” Back when I was single, I let myself go a few times, but my head was mostly filled with phrases like “a nice, Jewish girl doesn’t enjoy sex.” That was about to change.
After my husband died, I went for 15 years without sex. (We were married for 15 years). And our sex hadn’t been great when we had it, thanks to, among other reasons, my repression and a medication I was taking. So, at age 70, I was practically a virgin. I asked my doctor to change my medication to something else, and he did. Now I wanted mad, passionate, down-and-dirty sex. But how?
Orgasms had never come easily to me, but I had never thought of mentioning it to a doctor or therapist to see whether there was something available to help me. Finally, I did. My urologist, a woman, suggested I get a vibrator and some porn.
Thirty years ago, a married cousin mentioned she used a vibrator and suggested it for me. “Interesting,” I said, while scoffing at the idea. I couldn’t imagine myself stooping that low. And I didn’t have a high regard for porn, either, labeling it as disgusting. I thought people who watched porn were either deviant, desperate or both. Now, those judgments flew out the window. I was ready to stoop.”
And stoop she did, all the way down to her neighborhood sex shop where she purposed her first porn DVD and something called Budding Bliss, which judging by this Amazon picture doesn’t look like something you want to put casually in the hands of amateurs. Nevertheless Rosenberg would master the toy and soon chasing new and exciting orgasms would become her new hobby. She writes of her new favorite past time: “I seemed to need greater or different stimuli to be able to climax. I mentioned the problem to my therapist. I told him I couldn’t spend endless money on porn DVDs. He told me there was free Internet porn. My horizons were expanding.”
Rosenberg would expand her horizons again, after the same freak-inducing therapist suggested that she sign up for one of those free dating and sex websites. It was there that she said that she finally got to put into practice some of the techinques she had learned in the porn. She writes:
“I pulled out my notes from my favorite porn clip to see if I could get Bill under my spell the way the porn actress had gotten her male counterpart under her spell.”
Yes, she did say she took notes and referenced them during her internet chat sex call. That is totally an old woman-thing to do. (On a side note: have you ever noticed how old women’s purses are filled to the brim with loose paper? That be them notes…).
But Rosenberg concludes of the experience:
“This was the beginning of my sexual awakening. Over the course of the next year, I would go further than I imagined on the site. My communication online helped me to be more sexually explicit in my interaction with lovers, both in and out of bed. I began writing erotic short stories. I never would have guessed this is how my sexual awakening would take place. But at 70 years old, I was finally free.”
Rosenberg’s sexual awakening reminds me of one of those auto-play videos I saw on Facebook, which captured the overtly sexual moves of an older black lady in hot shorts, a garter belt and platform heels. She was dropping it low at what looked like a block party or maybe even a family reunion. The woman looked to be enjoying herself and yet many of those around her, including the video maker, chided the woman for basically not acting her age.
It all got me thinking about how we as a society really need to change the way we think grandmothers are supposed to be. On television, in film and in popular culture in general, getting old seems horrible, long and filled with loneliness. Once a woman gets menopausal, she no longer has sex. And once she gets gray haired and possibly wrinkled, we tend to regard them as women, who sit in rocking chairs, getting senile and knitting sweaters for grandkids, who barely visit, and long dead husbands. Even in the sassy-black grandma films, features matronly “women” in support knee-hi hosiery and orthopedic shoes with the velcro, whose entire world revolves around tending to, and cleaning up, the mess of the family. Despite her liveliness, I do not recall ever seeing Madea go on a date, go out to lunch with the girls, or even see a movie without the family involved?
Off-hand, I think Boomerang is the only film I can think of which even dared to broach the topic of mature sex (55+) – and even that wasn’t taken seriously. What’s even funnier is that despite the perception, personally I know a number of grandmothers, who have very active lives – romantic, sexual or otherwise. And no, not all of them are young grandmas. Oh they may look young, but you know what they say about good black…
But seriously, some research, particularly this study from UC San Francisco which questioned nearly 2,000 women between the ages of 45 to 80, found that 43 percent reported at least moderate sexual desire, and 60 percent had been sexually active in the previous three months. Likewise this same study finds that among sexually inactive senior women, it was concerns about health (theirs and their partners) and availability of partner in general, that caused them to abstain as opposed to a lack of desire to do so.
And if you needed more convincing, check out this recent profile in Nerve Magazine of a Dutch photo exhibition featuring 10 septuagenarians, wearing skimpy lingerie in classic pin-up poses. What greater proof do you need that sexiness is really timeless?
In addition to thinking about the possibilities of our older years sexually, I think that stories like these on sexy grandmas can help young women exhibit the same sort of control and interest in their own sexual pleasure. Sexual dysfunction is real among women – and unfortunately too many women have pleasure-less sex because we have been conditioned to believe that we’re not supposed to desire physical satisfaction like men do (see: Steve Harvey). Perhaps if we listen to our elders, they might be willing to teach us a trick or two.