Anne Lamott wrote a hilarious account of a year she spent on Match.com. A veteran of the online dating site, myself, I enjoyed her well-wrought description of her dates and some of the anecdotes brought back amusing memories.
But, here’s what else 58-year-old Lamott wrote:
In four-fifths of (marriages ), the men want to have sex way more often than the women do. I would say almost none of the women would care if they ever got laid again, even when they are in good marriages. They do it because the man wants to. They do it because it makes the men like them more, and feel close for a while, but mostly women love it because they get to check it off their to-do lists. It means they get a pass for a week or two, or a month. It is not on the women’s bucket lists. I’m sorry to have to tell you this.
I just don’t believe this for a minute. It’s not true of me and it’s not true of my friends. You think I’m out of touch? Read this, from a friend of mine on Sunday:
…is she kidding? It does make one wonder though if WE are the minority, especially at our age? Is this really the reality of most women? I hope to God (or Jesus, it IS Easter) that I never feel that way.
And really, I’m not so sure it’s true of Annie, because later on, she writes this:
We had chemistry, laughed a lot, sent lots of emails. But we didn’t touch. I thought, in my mature and/or delusional way, that this would come, but it didn’t. I made a few practice casual touches, but he didn’t respond.
…But then I got it, that my horrible friends were right, and he didn’t feel physical with me. I felt teary and surprised. I wrote to him, with my email voice high in my throat, saying that maybe it wasn’t going to happen, and maybe we should take a break while I went out of town.
Predictably, this relationship ends… for lack of physical attraction.
So, here’s my burning question:
If sex wasn’t that important to her, why was it important that her mate be physically attracted? If all she really sought was a companion, then it shouldn’t make a difference, right?
Ah, the inconsistency of it all.
Then again, a man’s physical attraction is perhaps a way a woman measures her worth to him, even if it she has no interest in actually being physical.
It’s very complicated.
But because Lamott is a writer, and a good one, and a visible one, I can’t let some of her statements stand unchallenged.
First, I absolutely care about getting laid and so do most all of my middle-aged and qualified-for-Social-Security friends, some of whom have such robust sex lives that it would make you blush at minimum and in at least one or two cases, shock you. Oh, how I wish I could share, but I won’t. You’ll just have to trust me.
One of them only recently threw out some of her bedroom attire and accoutrements for fear her grown kids would find them if something happened to her. (My point is “so what, you’re already dead…”)
Do not ever doubt the sexual imagination of those of us in our 50s, 60s and yes, even 70s and that many, many of us enjoy sex in all its manifestations. Grandpa really does still do Grandma and Grandma still does enjoy it.
Second, it seems that no essay about sex today can conclude without at least a passing comment about men and their use of Internet porn. Lamott is no different, and holds out the implicit promise of a future essay on this that riveting topic.
It may come as a shock to Lamott and these women, but men (and women) have been enjoying pornography for a long time and the evidence of this is that cave painting porn has been found. The internet is simply another medium. Cave, magazines, videos, internet: a progression of porn media. Nothing new here, folks. Step away.
Doggy-style, cave drawing, Brazil, 2,000 to 25,000 yrs ago
And unless use of pornography replaces human interaction, I just don’t see a problem. In fact, it can be additive, and even give a couple so many fun ideas that it might take a lifetime to explore them all.
Oh, and Anne? If, as you say, you’ve “spent 1,736 hours of your life waiting for a man to finish and pretending it felt good,” well, you’ve just not been with the right men. So sorry to hear it.
I must confess: I resent this continuing depiction of women as girding their loins, gritting their teeth and bearing the onslaught of the male sex drive. And while it’s true that the whole process is a little more challenging after mid-life, I maintain that a hot and healthy sex life is a way important part of any relationship at any age. And many, many of us see it that way.
Does this bother anyone else? Do you agree with me? or with Anne?
This is a complicated issue. Sexual desire in both men and women runs the gamut of not there to out of this world. While I agree that Lamott may not have met the right man, it may be that she just isn’t that interested in sex, but wants to be. Among my long-married friends, there’s quite a bit of ho-hum, though I don’t think it’s ALWAYS that way. No matter how sexual or sensual you are, the reality of familiarity and routine can make desire difficult to muster up- more often for women than for men. The key is to make the effort.
A 1000% , this almost 60 year old agrees with you. Sensuality is high on my list for a good life and that very much includes sexuality. I, in no way, am ready to put sex away in a drawer. Period.
I think the problem with Lamott’s essay–and with your response to it–is that both of you are totalizing older women’s sexuality. Some of us still have it and some of us couldn’t care less. I see this with my own friends, who are even older than Lamott (!).
But then, what you’re responding to isn’t the fact of older women’s sexuality, but the perception of it by those who are not in our cohort. Yeah, ageism sucks–as do all the other ‘isms’ that lard our culture. But we were ageist punks when we were young–well, I certainly was–so shouldn’t we be a bit more indulgent of the ‘young folk’ just not getting us?
Thanks for discussing this topic. Life can be very rich for those over 50 if we let it be.
Sharon, yes, it’s complicated, I agree. Gracie, you go, girl! Blonde, your youthful orientation and that handsome husband of yours–I’m sure that you have a rich,happy life together.
Oh boy – a touchy subject indeed. And it’s not like menopause helps us much in the “I’m feeling sexy” department, either! Thanks so much for the post, Carol – it brings up a lot of important, often emotional points. If it’s any help, I’ve got something on a new pill that may help better your sex life during menopause:http://www.shmirshky.com/menopause-blog/2013/02/28/post-menopausal-sex/
I think Lamott’s “change of heart” was simply what she said happens . . .she wanted the man to like her. I think the answer to this question depends on the sex drive of the individual. I have friends who have always been very sexual and still are. They talk about sex a lot more than I do. Others of us love it but don’t think about it much until the man brings it up. Luckily, sex is a topic that each couple gets to define in a way that works for them. Thanks for an intriguing blog!
I hope “it” never gets old, I like “it” so!
I almost never agree with Anne Lamott, so I’m not surprised I don’t agree with her on this. Sorry, I know that she is often held as the standard to which writers, particularly those of memoir, should aspire, but I have often found her to be inconsistent, grating, and anti-feminist. It has been my experience that her “voice” is less than honest.
Jackie, preach it, sister!