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This Is Not Your Parents’ Sex

Women Share Stories About Sex After 50

Nobody wants to think about their parents having sex. Or their parents’ friends. Or, really, anyone their parents’ age. Because old-people sex is not hot.
We know this because countless magazine covers, soda commercials, music videos, and romance flicks tout taut-skinned hardbodies and shiny newness as indisputable turn-ons. Society is very clear: Gray hair ain’t no aphrodisiac … unless it’s on a guy … who’s charming a significantly younger woman … in a Viagra ad … as nature intended.
But then something freaky happens while you’re busy worshipping at the Church of Titillating Youth: You suddenly become your parents’ age. Gray hairs and all. And you realize that while you and your somewhat slack-skinned softbody are not likely to nude up in a music video anytime soon, you’re still fiendishly hot ​— ​and have oodles of sexin’ left to do.
So you write about it.

At least, that’s what the 53 contributors of Unmasked did. The new book is a collection of stories by women about sex and intimacy after age 50. The poems and personal essays (some, ahem, very personal) were edited by author Marcia Meier and psychotherapist Kathleen Barry.
“It’s provocative material!” said Meier of the content, which includes titles such as “Sex on the Sand,” “Orgasmic Harley, or Where Are My Balls?,” and “After Reading Fifty Shades at Seventy Five.”
The project was born out of Meier’s and Barry’s mutual “miserable experiences in the dating pool” a few years back ​— ​after years and years of being married.
“On dating sites, the guys are always looking for younger women,” Meier said, “but older people are better lovers. It’s known that women come into their sexuality at a later age, and men tend to get over that (over-eager) 18-year-old thing and become gentler, calmer, slower ….
“We were talking about that,” she said, “and then we started talking about how nobody ever talks about that!”
The conversation led to the book, whose contributors hail from the U.S., Australia, the U.K., and Iran. The oldest is 87, the youngest 50.
“Fifty is kind of that dividing line between being seen and not being seen; you become less visible in society,” Meier said. “It’s traditionally when you go into menopause if you haven’t already. You almost always gain a little weight. A lot of marriages start to dissolve when the kids are grown and gone. But a lot of women absolutely love sex and still want to have it!”
The book quotes a recent study that found 60 percent of women in their fifties are sexually active, nearly half of women in their sixties are, and nearly a third of women over 70 are.
And according to the book, they’re active in hotel rooms … on massage tables … in Jeeps. Some of the confessions are so racy that the authors chose to use pseudonyms; perhaps this is further evidence that society shames older women for their sexuality.
But if this is the year of women finally claiming their place of power in the social, sexual, professional, and political hierarchies, then Unmasked practically shouts, “#ustoo!” ​— ​and not just because of the story in which a woman is surprised and then ashamed and then enraged when a man masturbates in front of her. On her sofa. On their first date. (Really, dude??)
“The #metoo movement is a growth in women’s awareness about our power to choose to be sexual if and when we want to,” said Meier. “Older women ​— ​those of us who were the first wave of feminism ​— ​are finding our way to say what we want sexually: ‘Hey, this is what I like; this is what I don’t like; this is what I need.’ And not take our cues from men.”
That’s right, Viagra ad. She’s talkin’ to you.
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