By Jeanne Looper Smith
Sexuality and the expression of it for women has run the gamut from Queen Victoria’s instructions to her daughters to “Just lie there and think of England” to my teenage friend’s mother who warned her that, “Sex is something you have to endure,” and my own mother’s declaration—on the much more enlightened side of the sexual spectrum—that said, “Anything goes, swing from the chandelier if you want.”
My maternal grandmother rounded out our family field with her sexual advice that was concise, to the point and consisted of admonishing her married daughters (of whom my mother of the swinging chandelier was one), “Make your husbands leave your breasts alone.” To which my Aunt Virginia later laughingly responded—“Apparently Mother thought he was gnawing them off!”
So from a cornucopia of sexual advice through the years, some of it limiting and constricted, women in general, and me in particular, have navigated our way through our own sexual response and experience. The culture, not always helpful in this journey with its focus on youth, and its view of women often as either whore or Madonna, (the original Madonna, not the later musical incarnation) has muddied the waters in how women show up as fully sexually expressed.
Fortunately, I landed somewhere near the ceiling chandelier literally and metaphorically, deciding that I would determine for myself how I wanted to show up sexually at every age. And, as in all the other areas of my life, I chose to be empowered and in full partnership.
Now that I’m considered way past the age that the culture says bodies are considered beautiful and therefore deserving of great sex, I say F**K that view, literally and figuratively. We (and this includes men) are capable of being sexual—and here’s a news flash for society—we’re not only capable of, but ARE having great, earth-shaking, soul-stirring sex at age 50 and, for me, WAY beyond, into my 70s!
Having had many decades of life experience, knowing who I am, what I deserve, and what I want in bed—and out—has only enhanced what goes on under the sheets.
Tragic that Queen Victoria and my grandmother, products of their time, missed out on a fabulous part of being human and being female. They long ago made their bed, but sadly, didn’t much enjoy lying in it.