Archive for January, 2015

January 14th, 2015

Sex, Aging, and Inspiration: The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50

Most readers of this blog or my work are aware, I imagine, that sex interests me. I don’t just mean engagement in it (though that is included!), but the topic itself: the vast, glorious, and fascinating subject of sexuality with its myriad psychological, spiritual, personal, social, and energetic implications. Whenever I have encountered another in the personal or public realm who seems similarly oriented, I have tended to take notice and go out of my way to discover said person’s perspectives and offerings on this subject of mutual fascination.

Joan Price is one of these people. And her latest book, The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50: How to Maintain—or Regain—a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life, published by Cleis Press, is a shining example of why I would seek out this kind of luminosity. I’m delighted to participate today in the official blog tour celebrating this brand new release—please visit here to see the rest of the schedule and follow along!

Sex-after-Fifty

I’m not yet over 50, and I won’t be for more than a decade, but the fact is, I am acutely supportive of an increase in information and discussion on sexuality-related topics, especially one that’s tended to get as little air time as this one. For a population that society consistently seems to say doesn’t—or shouldn’t—exist (seniors actively embracing, embodying, displaying, and living their sexual energy and desire), Joan’s advocacy and personal and professional devotion to the subject of senior sexuality strikes me as invaluable and woefully needed. 
The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50 offers a genuine, straightforward, comprehensive, and caring guide to things from the universal (as I see it) to the specific as related to the age group in question, covering topics from sex toys to the absence of intimacy in relationship to widowhood to navigating the contemporary world of online dating.

It is a beautiful book. If I were to describe it in one word, I think it would be “inspiring.”

I perceive this word from multiple angles. As a reader who hasn’t even experienced many of the things the book talks about, I could feel the energy of kindness, generosity, and encouragement with which it was written. I find that inspiring in and of itself. In addition, I saw inspiration in the following messages (explicit or implicit):

You Are Not Alone
As a baseline, this book will let readers know they are not alone in almost all of their situations, concerns, or challenges. Running the gamut from issues of seemingly lost intimacy, changes in desire, the occurrence of widowhood, health challenges, medicinal side effects, and much more, what is presented in these pages lets those facing any of these circumstances know that many, many other people have and are too. I don’t underestimate the profound value of this.

Mainstream Social Messages About Older Sexuality Are (Generally) Bullshit
I have experienced mainstream culture as dismissing or denigrating the existence or appropriateness of sexual desire, expression, and health among older people. I find this nonsensical and unconscionable. So, it seems, does the author.

There Are Many Practical Solutions Available
The author devotes much pagination to addressing numerous practical matters, from medicinal side effects to the potential benefits of different kinds of sex toys. Personally, I could feel the caring and reassurance with which this was written, which it seems to me will be of particular support to readers who may experience a defeated relationship with their bodies or health challenges. Joan not only offers information to help readers understand the array of options and potential solutions that are available, she has also compiled an extensive “Recommended Resources” section at the end of the book and consistently reminds the reader to check them out if they seem relevant.

You Have a Right to Have Sexual Concerns Addressed in Professional Medical Care
There is a whole chapter devoted to speaking with medical professionals about issues related to sexuality, particularly in the context of health challenges. This chapter encompasses information on everything from finding a doctor willing to address this topic (and ceasing to see one who doesn’t) to how to convey to your health care providers that you find your sexuality an important part of life and want to attend to any concerns about it.

While the World—and You—Have Changed, the Very Fact That You’re Still Here Means You Are Capable of Adapting
I also saw a continual emphasis on openness and awareness of shifts in ourselves and our relationships. The straightforward assertion that things shift in our bodies and beings as we age and that this does not necessarily mean the “end” of something but rather an opportunity for something different struck me as a linchpin of the overall positive, caring, and encouraging note this book consistently sounds.

Sexual Universality
Not surprisingly (to me anyway), there were certainly things in The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50 that it seems to me adults of all ages would do well to consider. Certainly I appreciated the emphasis throughout on expanding our view and definition of sex to mean things in addition to penis-in-vagina (PIV) intercourse. And, of course, there was a general inclusivity essential to any comprehensive book on sexuality that addressed populations such as the LGBT communities. There were also timeless offerings related to self-awareness, such as the recommendation to discern, articulate, and prioritize what one is specifically looking for in a sexual or long-term committed partner.

The book is presented in a way that inserts actual comments from readers and followers of the author’s work where relevant. These anecdotes, which ranged from longing and poignant to breathtakingly joyful, struck me as clearly reflective of the conflicts, successes, and complexities of real people’s experiences and, in my perception, added greatly to the accessibility of the book. In addition, the author makes liberal use of calling on colleagues with expertise in the specific areas she’s addressing, resulting in excerpts and asides from such luminaries as Carol Queen, Charlie Glickman, and Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson.

Joan also shares generously of herself in these pages. This did not surprise me, as I have seen her offer openly about her (sometimes quite intimate) experiences and how they have impacted her life and sexuality. I have experienced her as doing this at least in part with the earnest aspiration of supporting others in developing and living their own authentic sexualities. Again—inspiring.

Never for a second did I see this book as not relevant to me because I’m not (yet) in the target age group. (Really, how self-defeating would such a perspective be, since it seems likely I someday will be!) I actually love having had the opportunity to read this at this time; it prepares me with so much information for what to perhaps expect and how to address my own experience as I get older. Encouraging and practical, accessible and informative, The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50 is a book I recommend without hesitation not only to the targeted age group but also to all of us who care about sexuality and want to support both ourselves and others in authentically appreciating it throughout the human life span.

Love,
Emerald

“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me, and I’m feeling good…”
-Michael Buble “Feeling Good”