Joan Price and the Best Sex Writing of the Year

I was invited to write about Best Sex Writing of the Year as part of their launch. I am happy to support the publication of this book and help get the word out about sex-positive experiences and lifestyles.Here’s what the PR people at Cleis Press have to say about the 2015 Best Sex Writing of the Year.

“In Best Sex Writing of the Year, no topic is too small or too taboo for writer, radio personality, and sexual pundit Jon Pressick, who has compiled a compelling collection of nonfiction writings on sex. With a forward by pornography actress and feminist activist, Belle Knox, as well as writings from well known authors like Joan Price, Jiz Lee, Charlie Nox, and Cory Silverberg, this anthology open the doors wide to reveal the secretive and hidden side of sex. From heart-wrenching tales of sexual exploit to musings on sex toys and race relations, this book covers the sexual gamut.”

 

sex writing, Joan Price, sexuality Given a selection of writers to feature, naturally I chose Joan Price. Joan is a friend and colleague, who writes about sex in a straightforward, no BS manner. Joan isn’t apologetic about aging nor is she unrealistic in her advice for older adults. Sex and desire is just as natural for adults over 60, or 70, as it is for those in their 20s and 30s, a message Joan embodies in her personal life. From Best Sex Writing of the Year (this is an affiliate link with Amazon), here’s a snippet of Joan’s story for your reading pleasure–a sad story but a pivotal one in her life.

 

Best Sex Writing of the Year, Volume 1, edited by Jon Pressick

Excerpt from “Sharing Body Heat” by Joan Price

August 2, 2008: I crawled into Robert’s bed and wrapped my body around his. If I could only get close enough to make the last hour, the last months, disappear. I hugged him tightly, desperately. I wailed his name and listened to his silence, remembering his murmurs, his words of love. I nuzzled my face into his neck as I had many times before, but there was no warmth now, no “I love you, sweetheart,” no kiss on the top of my head, no strong arms pulling me into him. I covered his thigh with mine, snaking my arm under his pajama top so that I could stroke the chest hair I had first touched seven years before.

I willed him to respond.

But he didn’t.

I willed him to come back to life.

But he didn’t.

“Do you need some time alone with your husband before the mortuary takes his body away?” the hospice nurse asked me gently. I nodded, shut the bedroom door, turned off the light, and crawled into bed with Robert’s dead body.

It was the first time in three months that I could wrap myself around my beloved and hold him tightly without causing him pain. Multiple myeloma—a blood cancer that affects the bone marrow’s ability to make healthy blood cells—had ripped Robert’s life from him while he still lived. His fragile bones broke, causing excruciating pain. His strong dancer’s body weakened and withered.

We could no longer make love—which had been our great joy—or even snuggle. Every touch was painful to him. All I could do towards the end was rest my hand or cheek lightly on his chest, or hold his hand. These little acts became making love.

Earlier that night I had held Robert’s hand—the hand that painted extraordinary works of art, that gestured gracefully as he talked, that rested on the air as he danced, that caressed me for seven years. I talked to him for hours, telling him how much I loved him and recounting memories. I reminisced about the afternoons that turned into evening as we gloried in the tactile paradise of each other’s bodies, the rhythm of our breath in sync. Now there was no breath at all. My tears spilled onto his hand. I lifted his hand and rubbed the wetness into my cheek.

“No-o-o-o!” I wailed.

Ours had been a later-life love affair—we met when I was fifty-seven and he was sixty-four. Robert Rice (yes, his name differed from mine by one letter) was a lifelong artist and a trained dancer from the age of two. He had recently moved to my area and was looking for a place to dance. He discovered my contemporary line-dance class.

The moment he walked into the room, my postmenopause-diminished hormones went into overdrive. I met his blue eyes and fell into them. I let my eyes travel to the tuft of chest hair that peeked from the V of his shirt, top two buttons undone, and I yearned to unbutton it the rest of the way down. Then when he moved his hips to the music, I pictured them moving under my hands and I lost my place in the dance I was teaching. It was lust at first sight.

My crush was one-sided, though. Robert kept coming to dance class, but he seemed oblivious to my interest, though it was obvious to all the other dancers, they told me later. Robert was there for dance, not romance.

~

Joan’s story of her life with Robert opened the door to a career in writing and speaking about sex for seniors. I have spent time with Joan at conferences and heard her speak on sex and sexuality. She’s a dynamo!

Best Sex Writing of the Year is full of stories from sex educators and writers across the country. Their stories are unique and represent all walks of life and ways of looking at sex and sexuality. I ordered my copy last week and I invite you to get your own copy.

To learn more about Joan Price, see her website, Naked At Our Age.

The case for self-pleasuring

female sexual desireWith spring finally here and the juicy energy warm weather brings, it’s a perfect time to explore the sexual side of life. I want to share some thoughts on the art of self-pleasuring, originally published at Midlife Boulevard.

 

I hold my skirt, sash untied.

And stand before the window with unpainted eyebrows.

Silk clothes fly open so easily.

If my skirt opens, I’ll blame the spring wind!

Zi Ye, translated

 

In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson

 

What is it about spring that leads people to think about sex? Is it the phallic nature of flowers as they push out of the ground? Is it the shift in temperatures that tempts us to shed our heavy clothing and expose our bodies to the sun? Maybe it’s our pagan heritage.

Tennyson speaks of a young man’s fancy. I want to expand the idea of spring as an aphrodisiac to include men and women, young and old.

About 10 days ago I decided to treat myself to 25 days of self-pleasuring after hearing another sex educator talk about her yearly practice. The idea appealed to me and fit my spring-induced mood. I planned to journal about my feelings and experiences, privately, and maybe write a little about the experience of self-pleasure as a daily habit. A habit that’s not unlike going to the gym every day or vowing to drink 8 glasses of water a day. I believe that sexual wellness requires us to focus on our intimate body parts and our emotional needs. Self-pleasuring, whether you’re in a relationship or not, is good for us.

I got started, then fell into the trap I often warn others about. I got busy and failed to make time for self-pleasuring. Here are some of the things I let get in my way:

I’m too busy

Waste of time…

It’s late and I’m tired.

This is going to take work to get in the mood.

I need to be focused; this will be distracting.

Is sex all that important?

Some of you are probably asking, why does sexual pleasure matter? Or maybe you’re patting yourself on the back and saying, “I already experience desire, why do I need this?” Or, “I have sex with a partner, why would I want or need to self-pleasure?”

Do we ever know all we need to know about something? Do we get to a certain level of mastery or satisfaction and then step back? Of course not. And, why would we not think ourselves worthy of our own focused attention? I learn more about my own desire with every experience. I find new levels of arousal. I discover new sensations. It makes me a better lover and it makes me happier. And, if a low libido is the issue, then taking time to be intentional about desire may help women feel greater desire.

Let me get a little personal and tell you what happened on those days when I devoted my attention to my body. On the first day I found myself in full arousal just thinking about this idea, partly spurred on by some delicious erotica that popped up in my inbox. I stopped what I was doing and turned my focus on my pleasure. It left me with a smile and a sense of well-being.  I went back to work (I work from home) feeling more energetic. Later in the morning when I did my dry brushing before showering, I was more aware of the sensations of the brush stroking my skin. I slowed down, turning my attention to what I was doing and found myself again in a place of heightened arousal. My skin came to life, my body tingled and my mood lightened.

Day two was hectic and wasn’t finding the time for play, so I focused on the act of dressing—what did I want to wear, what would make me feel good. The smooth nude-colored bra or the black lacy one? Lace. The pleasure for that day was taking time to look at my body—to see and feel the way lingerie and clothes embraced my body and contributed to my uplifted mood. I found pleasure in what I saw in the mirror—I owned my sexiness in that moment. A different kind of self-pleasure.

I don’t know whether others set a goal for their 25 days. I want to be present to my body, my sexual moods and to expand my capacity for pleasure.  Sexual desire is not as simple as flipping on the bedroom light switch. Female desire is complex; our desire and physical arousal build in delicious layers. When we’re not directing all our focus on our body, and maybe our partner’s body, we can’t fully experience all that sex has to offer. It’s like wandering out to smell the flowers wearing dark sunglasses with a stuffy nose, while trying to read emails on our phone. The opportunity for enjoyment is diminished if we fail to give it our full attention.

I’m back to my daily practice, actively thinking about my sexual pleasure during the day. For me the practice of self-pleasuring is not goal-oriented, it’s more of an acknowledgement of the value I place on sexual arousal. Each day can present me with a chance to be playful, to allow myself to feel new sensations, and to teach me something new.  For the woman who experiences a lack of sexual desire this is a great exercise. In fact, it’s the focus of the book I’m writing on stepping into our sexual desire. Self-pleasuring is ideal for learning how to awaken the body, discover and explore erogenous zones, and increase your ability to feel desire. I’m committing to this practice and I invite you to add self-pleasuring to your daily routine.

Feel free to comment here, or come over to Midlife Boulevard and add to the conversation there.

 

Image by Milada Vigerova at UnSplash  

An intimate conversation about casual sex–just you and me

casual sexOne of my older male readers wants to know how to find a woman for casual sex. I don’t know how to tell him where to find this woman but I do have some thoughts on the subject. In fact, I wrote an article in defense of casual sex for older adults for Boomeon and another one on a more personal level that was published at Kinkly.

I am in favor of casual sex (for adults). And I think it’s going to be more satisfying (my female perspective) with someone you know–rather than a stranger you meet in the bar, library or grocery store. While I’d say that women need to be more cautious than men, it’s a good idea for all of us to be careful in approaching someone for casual sex.

Let’s say you’ve met someone and find yourself attracted to this person, but don’t necessarily want to start a relationship. You just want sex. The first step would be to convey that to him or her, in a tasteful way. If some strange man walked up to me in a bar and told me he wanted to have sex, I’d be a little put-off, a little concerned, a little amused and possibly flattered. But I probably wouldn’t say yes…unless it was Pierce Brosnan. You can start with flirtation, as hopefully there is already some degree of sexual attraction, or you can be more direct. Tell this person what you’re thinking.

“Eek, I can’t see myself doing that.”

If you can’t imagine yourself having that conversation maybe the idea of casual sex isn’t for you?

Try something like this, “I think it could be fun to explore our sexual attraction. Are you interested? (pause for a response). If this idea appeals to you let’s talk about it.”

Having the Discussion About Casual Sex

  • Be clear that you’re only looking for casual sex. Make sure that both of you are in agreement. Talk about how you’ll handle things if one of you changes your mind.
  • Discuss what happens if one of you feels some stronger emotional or romantic attachment after the fact.
  • Are there any sexually related issues?  Are you non-orgasmic? Does it take you a long time (the case for most women) to reach orgasm and, if so, does that makes you self-conscious? Is erectile dysfunction a concern? Do you take ED meds?
  • Is pregnancy an issue?
  • Talk about where this will take place. It’s not a good idea to invite a relative stranger to your house, so consider a hotel room.
  • Apprehensions? Body image issues. Fear that you might change your mind. Performance concerns? You may not talk about these but you certainly need to think about them.

 

Additional Considerations Before Having Casual Sex?

I think the best way to approach having sex, in the absence of an emotional connection, is to start slowly. Mix talking with flirting. If you’re a female worried about taking too long to orgasm share that in a sexy way–talk about what turns you on and how you like to be touched. You can find a happy medium between speaking about your needs and being playful.

Speaking of needs–you have to be clear on what you do and don’t want and any expectations you might have. If you’re into kink, are you going to share that or leave it out of the experience? Do you want something specific from this person? Tell them. Your experience will be better when the two of you are fully informed.

You might have the first conversation on the phone and follow-up over drinks. This allows you to establish your interest and get over the first hurdle in a less threatening way. I would not recommend that my 70-year-old male reader just walk up to a woman and ask her if she wants casual sex.

But how do we know who might want to have sex with us? That’s the tricky bit. Do we just charge ahead looking for a partner or do we subtly tune in to those around us–sensing mutual attraction first, then exploring? I suspect what’s behind the reader’s question is that age-old dilemma of singles–where do we find compatible, desirable people?

Attraction often comes when we least expect it and in places we can’t anticipate. Friends might give out subtle messages we overlooked or the guy across the room looking your way might be interested in getting to know you. Think about what you want and then explore how to find like-minded individuals. Be patient and open to possibilities.

Have you thought about, or had, casual sex? What went right for you? What might have been better?

 

Image by Gleangenie, Morguefile

Research on Older Adults & Sexual Health

sexual health issues A national sexual health survey, released in November 2014, examines the impact of sexual health issues on overall health, happiness, and communication among 3,015 US adults in committed relationships in which at least one partner was experiencing a sexual health issue. The study was conducted by Kelton in collaboration with the American Sexual Health Association, the Men’s Health Network, HealthWomen, and Pfizer.

“People are increasingly taking charge of their health in other areas, but that level of comfort hasn’t translated into addressing sexual health issues,” said Eli Coleman, PhD, Director, Program in Human Sexuality, Professor and Chair in Sexual Health, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota. “We see growing comfort with sex as a cultural topic, but people still aren’t talking about their own sex lives, which has important implications for their overall health and happiness.” Source

Key Study Findings

The survey included 3,015 adults aged 40-74 who are sexually active and in committed relationships where at least one partner is experiencing one or more sexual health issue. Key findings include the following:

  • 64% believe that their sex life influences their overall satisfaction with their lives; however, only 38% are satisfied with their sex lives.
  • Embarrassment and resignation prevent many from talking to their doctors (26%) about sexual health challenges they are experiencing. 37% believe that these are obstacles for their partners as well.
  • Fewer than one in four couples (24%) facing sexual health issues feel that they’re always able to be honest with their partners about their sex lives.
  • Men and women have differing priorities for improving physical intimacy. For women, priorities were improving their ability to achieve an orgasm (28% vs. 19% of men), emotional bonding with their partners (32% vs. 20%), and general enjoyment of sex (34% vs. 22%). Men are more apt to focus on their physical ability to have sex (38% vs. 22% of women) and being able to experiment (28% vs. 12%).
  • More than a third of those surveyed—aged as young as 40—are resigned to a worse sex life in 20 years, especially those who are already dissatisfied with their sex lives.

 

I wanted to share this with you because it’s so exciting to seeing scientific research applied to a) older adults and b) sexual health. We should be paying attention to research on sexual health–it’s a positive step for addressing concerns, helping normalize issues and encouraging us all to pay attention to our needs and those of our partners. Sadly only 38% of the survey population expressed satisfaction with their sex life. Clearly we have work to do.