|English: Sexual theme warning tag from Kijkwijzer Português: Etiqueta de aviso sexual da Kijkwijzer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
I had been writing blogs for a number of years and I would touch on sex occasionally but I had a real shift about 2 years ago that coincided with my work in the field of violence against women and my personal life. I began encountering women who weren't comfortable talking about sexuality and didn't know where to turn for advice or help. And, I came across so much information that wasn't informative or was judgmental and off-putting.
I like talking about sex and I feel comfortable doing so--that's something that many women can't claim. We're often too embarrassed to admit to our feelings or be able to talk openly about what works sexually and what doesn't. I am in the process of writing a guide for women and building speaking opportunities around the topic.
As to why I'm passionate about the issue? All around us are voices saying sex isn't for older women, proclaiming the end of sexuality with the onset of menopause. And, it's just not true. We can have a passionate sex life, however we individually define it, well into our 80s. I'm not the lone speaker on this, you and others I've run into have an interest in giving a sex-positive message for older women. I like to think my writing is clear and helpful-compelling even. [Bev here: TOTALLY agree that Walker's writing is clear, helpful and compelling.] Many women of our age don't want to read overly explicit material and they don't want to become Tantric masters, nor are they interested in content written for 20-30 somethings. My writing filling in that gap. Not that I ever want to be called practical or mainstream!
|AreYouAfraidToLove1926 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
2) We grow up with many different beliefs about sex and sexuality, some of which are factually wrong (pulling out is an effective method of birth control), others which are culturally driven (masturbation is a sin, nice women don't want sex as much as men do). Which message have you seen that most often gets in the way of women enjoying a healthy sexuality, and how do we erase or write over a "tape" that may have been replaying in our heads for several decades?
To a degree all of those messages play out for women our age. But I think the most damaging message women have incorporated is that we're not supposed to want to have sex. We grew up being told to protect ourselves from men. Protect your virginity. Don't look too eager. Let him lead. Good girls don’t want sex. Remember the old story about keeping your knees tightly pressed together as a way of protecting ourselves? My mother warned me that by sleeping with my future husband I’d be like a used shoe and no other guy would want me.
Women aren't encouraged to be sexual beings—we’re reared to think of ourselves as receptacles. We are taught to please a man, without learning the tools to our own satisfaction. If we can’t own our sexuality how can we ask for the sexual touch we want and need? I think this inability contributes to a diminishing of sexual desire and a sort of acceptance. The “Oh well, it was never very good so I don’t miss sex.”
There are many women, of all ages, who enjoy sex immensely, but they're not always willing to talk about it due to the shame factor. Our society doesn't support women as sexual beings; sexual objects yes, but there's a difference.
How do we change this? The older woman has a great opportunity here. We can provide strong role models for our daughters and granddaughters as we learn to embrace and proclaim who we are. I see myself, at 59, as having little to lose by being open about my sexuality. We're not worrying about pregnancy, we are generally more responsible in choices and we have the maturity and experience to enjoy sex without the hangups and issues of our younger days.
You and I write about sex in a way that gives women permission to explore and expand their own sexuality. We help to erase the shame by showing examples of powerful women who embrace all of who they are. When we talk about delicate topics we help women normalize their sexuality. Embarrassment serves to keep women quiet, reluctant to reach out. I get emails with questions and comments that women aren't willing to share on the website. Readers often thank me for talking about sexuality--women are starved for good solid information. Getting answers and seeing someone their age putting a human face on sexuality is helpful. I like to say that I'm leading by example. Who knew having good sex and writing about it could be so much fun?
3) Who knew having good sex and writing about it could be so much fun? Romance writers, that's who! (Though we cannot make assumptions about any author's sex life based on the material she or he writes, any more than we can assume an author who writes about serial killers is one.)
A few years ago, a "family and relationships expert" came out with the provocative statement that reading romance novels was bad for women - that it would lead them to have unrealistic expectations in their own marriages. What's been your experience and research as to whether women who regularly read romantic fiction have better/healthier relationships and sex lives, or whether it hurts them?
As a writer I don't believe that any reading is bad for us. But, and, it depends on what the reader is looking for. If a woman is experiencing problems in her marriage and thinks that the romance novel structure of relationships is going to help her with her issues then it becomes problematic. If she is bored and seeking escapist fantasy then a well written romance or erotic article or book is lots of fun.
The wide success of the 50 Shades series points to the fact that women want something more--they want to read about erotic adventures and I suspect their sex lives are getting a little spicier. I don't really know if we've had enough research yet on that topic?
Fiction is just that, it's a made up story and often does not reflect the majority of women's experiences with relationships or sex. Like porn it has entertainment value but should not be used as a tool for learning 'how to.'
http://betterafter50.com/category/ba50-experts/walker-thornton/) and can be found at her blog, Walker Thornton (www.walkerthornton.com) and at the Diva of Dating (http://thedivaofdating.com) You can also follow her on twitter (http://twitter.com/WalkerThornton).
Tune in tomorrow as Walker's advice and wisdom continues for women of ALL ages.