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The Queen of My Self

 

Congratulations, Queens! This column has reached the milestone of 300 entries. To celebrate, I am giving away an autographed copy of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. to the first three readers who request one by sending an email to me at:  thequeenofmyself@aol.com. That’s right, all you have to do is ask!

It is summer, hot and horny, and I am on a roll. So I am going to continue this theme of beauty, attraction, seduction, sex, love and self-love until I run out of content — or steam, whichever comes first.

Here is a take on sexuality in midlife by a noted sociologist:

 

Sex, Sensuality, and the Midlife Single Woman

By Kay Trimberger www.kaytrimberger.com

The sexual revolution suggests that if we are single women between ages 45 and 59 – now over 30 percent of all females this age – we can (and should) initiate sexual adventures and seek new romantic/sexual partners. Newspapers, magazines, talk shows and films feature story after story of middle-aged single women blossoming sexually.

This is an important correction to the stereotypes that once prevailed. Women were not expected to enjoy sex, and any female with a strong libido — especially a “middle-aged” women  — was regarded as suspect or even deviant. Now the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. For midlife females who want to remain sexually active, it’s great to have this new cultural validation. But women with less sexual desire or opportunity may feel inferior.

One of the most difficult tasks for mature single women who don’t have a monogamous sexual partner, is figuring out our sexual desires and how to meet them. A recent AARP survey of U.S. singles between 40 and 59 found that for those without a steady partner, only 4 percent of women and 12 percent of men had weekly sexual intercourse. For those in their 40s, 46 percent of both single women and men had not had sex in the prior six months; while in their 50s, 61 percent of women and 39 percent of men had not made love in the last half-year — and it was not an issue.

In 2004 a random sample of American women and men over age 45, in rating what is important to their quality of life, did not put “a satisfying sexual relationship” high on their list. More important is being in good spirits, being healthy and active, having close ties with friends and family, financial security, personal independence, spiritual well-being, having productive work and contributing to society. Seventy-three percent believe that there is too much emphasis on sex in our culture today.

These findings point to the need for recognition of individual variation in what we desire as midlife singles. Deciding what kinds (if any) sex one enjoys, feeling positive about it, and acknowledging that one’s sexual desires may change over time is not easy.

Society needs more recognition of the importance of sensuality and nonsexual passion in our lives, what I and others have termed “sensuous celibacy” — part of the sexual spectrum rather than a problem to be overcome. The emphasis on genital sexuality neglects the importance of sensuality, especially that which an individual can realize without a partner, such as the sensuality in food, clothing, art, travel, spiritual rituals, music and dance.

During my research for The New Single Woman, one ever-single woman in her late 40s told me of her love of flamenco dancing, which she finds intensely passionate and sensual. A married colleague in her 50s described e the joy she got from gardening: “I love the touch, the fragrance and the delicacy of flowers; they are definitely charged with passion and sensuality for me.” Other women luxuriate in the aromatic, tactile and sensory stimulation they get while cooking.

Some single middle-aged women are seeking to make nonmonogamy an acceptable practice. I found that those who had an intense sexual drive and acted on it in a thoughtful way fostered autonomy and a strong sense of self.

For women who love sex, or who long for sex within an affectionate partnership, the sensual pleasures of dancing, gardening or cooking will not be enough. But for others it is not only enough, but preferable. We need to view sex as one, but only one, of the elements that enhance our lives. Let’s recognize that there are many forms of sensuality, and acknowledge the complexity and variety of passion.

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity.  Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

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The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

 

 

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