Just in writing about possibly writing about sex yesterday I got some very fine comments. Some people are completely comfortable with the idea of a discussion about sex. Some are most definitely not. So if the subject offends or disturbs or triggers or upsets you, just skip this one. I'm not going to speak of it graphically but I am acknowledging that people have it.
Sex is the verboten topic, isn't it? And yet- a huge percentage of us do have sex or have had sex at some points in our lives. I mean- how many humans are on earth? All but a very few of those people are here because their parents had sex. This is one of the most obvious facts one could imagine. And yet- is there anything more icky than the idea of our parents having sex? Why IS this? And is it just our culture? I do not know. I'd like to think that the people in at least some cultures embrace the idea that their parents enjoyed each other in the most intimate and loving way possible. I'd also like to think that sex for most people is indeed intimate and loving but I was disabused of that notion a very long time ago.
And in a way, it's ridiculous to think one can discuss sex in any depth at all in a forum like this. One may as well try to cover the entire topic of food and eating in a blog post. There are as many different cuisines and dietary practices and foods and attitudes about food and appetites and eating as there are people, I would imagine. We are born hungry and a baby being put to her mother's breasts is a universal practice. There we are at once nurtured and comforted. It is impossible to separate the pleasure of eating from the need to eat.
And so it is with sex. It is an incredibly complex and emotional topic encompassing cultural beliefs and practices, religion, the patriarchy, who raised us, what specific preferences we are born with, and on and on and on.
These days, sex as a topic is not as tiptoed around as it once was. Maybe. I mean, you can listen to podcasts that describe sexual activity in the most graphic ways possible while other podcasts are hosted by sex therapists who bravely do their best to try and educate people on sex and sexuality so that they may more fully embrace the intimacy and pleasure that can be found in it. On the other hand- what's going on in homes? Do parents feel more open about discussing sex with their children than they used to? I hope so. When I was growing up, it was absolutely NEVER DISCUSSED AND BY THE WAY, IT NEVER HAPPENED, EITHER! Well, of course that last part wasn't true. But perhaps if my mother, at least, had been a little more open about sex, her husband would not have been quite as able to abuse me. At least maybe I would have been able to tell her what was going on. As it was, I had no real idea of what was happening and yet, I knew it was wrong but was absolutely terrified to even acknowledge any of it to myself, much less my mother. I never told a soul until I grew up.
I doubt that I was very good at talking to my kids about it either. It's not always easy. I remember that two of my daughters' Girl Scout leaders asked me to come and talk to the troop about menstruation because I was a nurse, which I did, with the help of some books that I found, and that went so well that I was asked back to talk about sex in the gentlest and most appropriate way possible. And I did that, too, also with the help of some books for girls that age. Thank goodness for those books! They helped me to find the right words, the right way, to discuss the topics.
But all of that is so important! Children need to know about that part of their bodies and emotions as much as they need to know about nutrition and exercise and drugs. (And that's another topic.) Things need to be explained plainly, openly, and in a completely non-judgmental way. It is so important. There's a reason that "the talk" is often referred to as "the facts of life." They truly are.
Okay. So all of that is one thing. Here's another- hardly anyone discusses sex in older age. In fact, that's a topic that a whole lot of people would just like to completely ignore. Hell, when I was a young woman, the idea that I'd still want to have sex in my fifties and (gulp!) sixties was unimaginable!
Because I was sexually abused, sex has always been a very tricky and dicey thing for me. And this is something I could write a thousand pages about.
I won't though. Not right now, anyway.
But one of the best things about being my age and in a loving marriage, is that sex is something I am finally coming to terms with, at least when it comes to trust. Which for a woman, especially, I think, is so very important. And I have found a freedom in lovemaking that I'm not sure I ever felt before. Not like gettin' freaky freedom. That ship may have sailed without me ever truly getting onboard. But an acceptance of myself freedom. The emotional and physical intimacy that is part of sex can become even more important, I think, as we age. There is a pure beauty to the closeness, the acknowledgement of our long years of love and loving. And of course, there are still the good hormones that flood us. The ones that make us (allow us?) to see our beloveds as just that- beloved. Truly.
And having said all of this, I realize how incredibly fortunate I am, once again, to still have this sort of love in my life.
And I have a lot more thoughts but if you have any you'd like to share, please know that I would love to hear them. And if I have offended anyone, well, I don't know what to say. Tell me why!
By the way, I went to the Wacissa today to meet up with Jessie and Vergil and the boys and Vergil's papa and his delightful wife today. Another sort of joy. It was beautiful.
And we did see a big ol' alligator. Which sadly, is not in this photo.
Oh, Linda Sue! I am so sorry if I've upset you.Delete
Nice post, too. Very relatable. I gave up my last boyfriend when I was fifty. And I am thirty years older now, and none the wiser.ReplyDelete
No hot guys to flirt with in the dining room?Delete
hmm..... I grew up in a household where discussion of sex was verboten..ALWAYS. I had *sex education* in school through a video, accompanied by my Mother (who merely asked me afterwards if I had understood the video). I was a wild child in my later youth and early 20's ....and became more comfortable with my own body and the enjoyment of intimacy..... but as I have aged (I am now 70)......... have had to change things up a bit. Still not quite as FREE and open as I always hoped to be....but hubby of 40 yrs. and I have enjoyed our share. of intimacy. No graphics here..... just sayin'.......now in older age, we have (I have) found ways to be more *creative* just because previous rompings are now too painful for me, physically. Not always what might be most *fun*, but I guess that's all I can say in a nutshell LOL! I DO hope that it is more freely discussed nowadays with children..... without the injection of shame that I was raised with.ReplyDelete
Beautiful, Susan! And things do, out of necessity change, don't they? And yet, we are a creative species and can generally figure out work-arounds. You're inspiring!Delete
I grew up with a bit of a prudish mother. One night when i was in the sixth grade she said, ‘you’ll be seeing a movie tomorrow about becoming a woman. If you have questions I’ll have Margaret (her friend and the school nurse) come over.’ She bought me sanitary pads (tampons were banned because they’d take your virginity—-yes, she said that!) and a sanitary belt (CURSES ON THEM!), and put them in the bathroom vanity. I chose to be open with our daughter and we can discuss anything to this day.ReplyDelete
exactly my scenario in growing up, Catrina, and good for you for breaking *that* mold in raising your own daughter! Susan MDelete
My mother did the same thing- here's your Kotex and the belt. Wash your underpants in cold water to get the blood out.Delete
And that was basically it.
Well, that was better than what I thought it might be. Nice photo.ReplyDelete
Oh, e! I'm so glad I didn't offend you. At least I hope I didn't.Delete
Thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
A wonderful, wild, and outspoken coworker of mine, a young woman half my age (I’m 62), asked me in the break room the other day if I have a lover.
“Oh, no,” I said, “I’m not interested—I just want to go home and read a book!”
“You can have sex while reading,” she said, and offered a suggestion…
I laughed. “I’m afraid that would ruin my ability to pay attention to the book,” I replied.
Honestly, the very idea of the WORK (“emotional labor” as they call it now) involved in a new relationship exhausts me.
Having a longtime loving partner as you do sounds very nice though—as you say, you know you are lucky.
I’m lucky that I *genuinely* do love reading by myself though. Lol 😂 Always have.
Fresca, I'm with you absolutely!Delete
Oh gosh. Reading books in bed is still one of my greatest pleasures. NOT while fooling around though. How would you know what to focus on? Doesn't sound like very satisfactory reading or lovemaking.Delete
I knew my parents had sex because I walked in on them once, thankfully, the lights were off. And then when they were in their seventies and sleeping in separate beds, I called one morning and they were both in the same bed. Mum did mention once that it sometimes took older men longer, is how she put it. She wasn't a prude but also didn't talk about it, like so many things.ReplyDelete
As for me, I talked to my kids about it from a young age. I don't know if it helped or hindered them. As you said though, trust is the key thing for me and for many women, I think, to having great sex. The kind of sex that makes you scream:)
Trust is so very important. For me, at least. Trust that I am loved, mostly, I think. Sounds like your mother should have been commended for at least admitting that sex was a thing. I'm sure you were much better at communicating with your kids about it though.Delete
That's a beautiful sky photo over the river.ReplyDelete
When I was growing up sex was never mentioned and I never discussed it with my kids either. I know now that I should have talked with them, but none of them ever brought it up and neither did I.
Thanks, Mary, for this post. It's always been a very fraught topic for me, too, though for different reasons than yours. So refreshing to have it discussed as a very normal part of life. It certainly was not discussed when I was growing up. As a young adult, I asked my beloved grandmother once about sex. She said something to the effect of "the man climbs on top of you and it's uncomfortable for a bit". Oh dear - not what I needed to hear! And alas, it gave me an insight I didn't want into her marriage with my equally beloved grandfather.ReplyDelete
Chris from Boise
And that story makes me feel sorry for both your grandmother and your grandfather. That just could not have been very much fun for either of them. What a culture where women, especially, are denied the pleasure that is so basic and so important.Delete
Sex is perceived as sinful and yet is necessary for creating more souls to save. I guess anything pleasurable is sinful which is why sex is often considered a chore for women (lie on your back and think of England!) and an uncontrollable animal instinct in men.ReplyDelete
Because of all this, sex abuse was brushed under the carpet and the victims blamed and shamed.
Thank you for talking about this. I look forward to more insights.
I just wish I could sit with you and a martini and really thrash this topic.
I think you summed up nicely how many of us were raised to think of sex. The men are wild beasts who will ravage women and women are responsible for not letting them do it!Delete
And you're so right about abuse victims being blamed. And rape victims too and that is happening all the time even now.
Wouldn't it be great to have an older-woman's forum on sexuality? That would be amazing on so many levels.
I think for my parents' generation it just wasn't "done" to talk about sex but I can't say it ever bothered me. I remember the wonderful freedom I had when I moved to Switzerland at 21 and had my own place and I LOVED sex. After I got married I felt my husband used sex to torture me in a way. Coming home at 2 a.m. drunk, wanting sex and being incapable anyway. Or me finally getting to sleep and then getting nudged because he wanted sex. Or at 4 a.m. when I had to get up at 6 a.m. for work. So no, I don't miss that at all. In fact, I had some of the best sex of my life after he left, but now? I can't say I miss it (much) so I'm happy with where I am!ReplyDelete
Your husband was a shit. Period, the end. No one has the right to demand sex like that. I'm glad you had great experiences before and after the horror show that was your marriage. And you know what? If you don't want sex now, there is no reason to feel bad about that either.Delete
My take on it is that sex is between two people. I don't discuss my sex life with others. I probably should, because what I know is that as I've gotten older, I'm not okay with how I look. Gravity. Weight. Cancer treatment. I've always been self conscious and now it is worse. I know this affects my sex life. I know this affects not just me but my partner.ReplyDelete
Oh god yes. All of this affects us deeply and we all have our issues, especially as we age. I have often felt so sorry for my husband because of my issues with intimacy due to childhood sexual abuse. It has not been fair to him.Delete
All of us could say a lot in relation to this fundamental topic and thank you for having the wherewithal to open the door just a little to get some light on the subject. It's strange how sex tends to be a no-go discussion area for most of us - even in conversations with our best friends and in blogging too. I have been blogging for nearly eighteen years and I don't think that I have ever referred to my sex life - current or past. It's as if we are held back by invisible chains.ReplyDelete
It is as if we are being held back by invisible chains and why? That is what I kept asking myself before I wrote that post and published. I could not come up with a decent answer. I mean- if I am outspoken and brave enough to say that I believe chickens have done far more for the human race than Jesus ever did, I should not be afraid to discuss sex in a general and non-graphic way.Delete
I don't even want to begin to remember how my mother (never my father) made all things related to sex evil and bad and dirty etc., only as a reminder how I tried very hard to be open and supportive to anything in relation to sex with my own child. Also, living in a commune with,among others, a gay couple added extra grounds for talk. So much so that my four year old once lectured a train carriage of nuns at the beginning of a three hour nonstop trip on how babies are (not) made.ReplyDelete
Oh, hurray for you and hurray for your daughter! What a beautiful story.Delete
Your mother- wow. I know she must have been such a hard woman to grow up under.
I don't recall ever having many questions about sex or problems or hangups about it but it's interesting to read about the experiences of others. There was a book by Nancy Friday, if I remember her name correctly, which enlightened me somewhat about female fantasies about sex. And the most useful thing I learned from an author who often included S&M in his fiction was that being turned on by a sexual fantasy does not mean you actually want that fantasy to come true, that you want to do (or have done to you) whatever it is in the fantasy that is getting you juiced up. All you need is the image, not the act, to get you where you hope to go. -KateReplyDelete
You are incredibly fortunate not to have had problems or hangups (for the most part) about sex. I knew a woman like that. I could not believe how beautiful she was about the subject.Delete
I do believe you're right about the fantasies. As they say- the brain is the most important sex organ. And what goes on in the brain, stays in the brain. Unless one wants to let thoughts out to play.
An honest and brave post …well done xReplyDelete
Thank you, John.Delete
It has been told to me that sex after 50 is gross (by my granddaughters) but I can tell you it takes longer. The spirit may be willing but so many factors can interfere. Medicine being one. And I am glad to see the last of it. The pain outweighs the pleasure when the end takes so long. But I am always happy to read about couples who still have that magic. Sex is the glue that holds a marriage together.ReplyDelete
There absolutely can be a point where sex is no longer part of the menu. I have had friends tell me that is true for them.Delete
It must be terrifically hard though, for people who still would like to have it but are unable to for one reason or another.
I think you are very much right about sex being the glue that holds it all together.
Just a lost note from me, the wonderful actor Gillian Anderson is working on a project on female sexual fantasies and is asking for anonymous contributors here: https://www.research.net/r/DearGillianReplyDelete
She is explaining her project here https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2023/feb/01/gillian-anderson-on-why-she-is-collecting-sexual-fantasies
Thank you, Sabine! I am looking forward to that book! I read the article.Delete
Back when we were dating, the man who would become my husband turned to me after lovemaking one afternoon and said with sincere non creepy interest, “So, what are your sexual fantasies?” I knew then he was a keeper. This is a beautiful reflection on longtime physical love, I can’t imagine anyone being offended by it.ReplyDelete
That was a wonderful story! And how telling about the man. That he was in it for your pleasure too. No wonder you married him.Delete
And that last comment was from me, 37P.ReplyDelete
And that makes me even happier!ReplyDelete