Sex, Love, And Unicorns: A Valentine To Intimacy As We Age

Huffington Post

First editor of ‘Ms.’ magazine, Writer on ‘Second Adulthood‘; Author of ‘How We Love Now,’ ’50 Is the New Fifty,’ and ‘Inventing the Rest of Our Lives’

Posted: 02/ 7/2012 8:09 am

Being in love knows no age limits, and our bodies can experience great sex throughout our lifetime. That is the message of my new book How We Love Now: Sex and the New Intimacy in Second Adulthood. But as I have been talking up that message, I have learned a thing or two about how it is received.

For one thing, I have encountered a perceived discomfort with the topic, at least on the part of those in charge. One women’s group was wary of inviting me to speak, because, they said, “when we got organized we agreed to avoid two subjects — sex and politics.” Another was happy to have me as long as I concentrated on the love part of my message, not the sex part.

This strikes me as odd, since many women I interviewed for my book were so happy to speak quite graphically and enthusiastically about their sex lives. As I listened to them, I began to think that the “dirty little secret” about women and sex at midlife was how much they were enjoying it.

Furthermore, a lecture I attended given by the indomitable Dr. Ruth was totally clinical — in her always matter-of-fact way; and the Q-and-A section was just as frank. One women was concerned about using a vaginal lubricant because it might not taste good to her partner.

I am not sure what the disconnect means except perhaps we have only gotten half way to believing that we are entitled to an erotic life after menopause — we go for it, but we don’t talk about it. As if talking about it, leads to others picturing us doing it, which is embarrassing; because we are still intimidated by unreal cultural images of women’s bodies and misinformation about older women’s sexuality.

Another explanation may be that for many women, this is the first time in their lives that they can separate sex and love. Until now we were expected to believe that sex was only permissible in combination with love. And reproduction. Nowadays, women of a certain age, no longer have to worry about pregnancy, but they are also becoming comfortable with separating sex from other requirements as well. Good sex for the fun of it is catching on.


Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.