The Queen of My Self

The brain, the mind, is said to be our most sensitive sexual organ and I have come to absolutely believe it. Time after time again in my life, it has been proven to me that being in possession of a lively, energized spirit is much more erotic than having an outwardly pretty face or perfectly honed physique. It seems to me that the popular misperception that midlife marks the end of a woman’s sexuality and appeal has less to do with her losing her looks than her losing her spirit. Allure is visceral and begins inside.

When I went to Paris in my fifties, it seemed like every man between the onset of puberty and the edge of the grave seemed to be coming on to me. “But this is Paris,” I would remind myself, “not real life.” I had always heard that in Europe mature women were appreciated. And indeed, women there do seem to age particularly well. They have an incredible talent for remaining luscious and alluring well past their mere middle years and into their seventies, eighties and beyond. Think of Jeanne Moreau, Simone Signoret, Sophia Loren, Liv Ullman, Celia Cruz.

In Europe you can be Sophia, you can be these older women who are considered very sexy.
Sally Kirkland

The mother of a good friend was born in Germany 98 years ago. Her face is as deeply grooved as Lillian Hellman’s. She smokes like a chimney. She has a younger lover but does not live with him. She looks, sounds and acts like an age-progressed Marlene Dietrich. She is one hot great-grandma.

I once saw Alberta Hunter belt out the blues when she was in her eighties and she was by far the sexiest woman in that room. Lena Horne once boasted, “It’s ill becoming for an old broad to sing about how bad she wants it. But occasionally we do.” What fabulous role models.

The emotional maturity and depth of character of women of a certain age, is extraordinarily and vitally attractive. We are substantial and robust, heady with the flavor of all that we have seen and done so far. Pungent with profound experience, with pain and loss. Lessons learned from lives lived intensely are reflected in our palate — sophisticated, subtle, firm and complex. Like fine wine and good cheese, women ripen and improve with age. Our essence becomes stronger, more challenging and infinitely more rewarding.

I keep thinking about Ruth Gordon in “Harold and Maude,” a woman on the cusp of her 80th birthday. Not only was she eccentric and electric, charming and disarming, she was shamelessly flirtatious and downright sexy.

Let us savor our sexual pleasures now and forever more.

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers 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™

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