Sex and the Seasoned Woman: Pursuing the Passionate Life

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9780812972740: Sex and the Seasoned Woman: Pursuing the Passionate Life

A seasoned woman is spicy. She has been marinated in life experience. . . . She can be alternately sweet, tart, bubbly, mellow. She can be maternal and playful. Bossy and submissive. Strong and soft. . . . The seasoned woman knows who she is. She could be any one of us, as long as she is committed to living fully and passionately in the second half of life.
In her most groundbreaking work since Passages and The Silent Passage, bestselling author Gail Sheehy reveals a hidden cultural phenomenon–increased vitality in women’s sex and love lives after fifty. Sex and the Seasoned Woman is the story of an intimate revolution taking place under our very noses.
Boomer generation women in midlife are open to sex, love, dating, new dreams, exploring spirituality, and revitalizing their marriages as never before. This is a new universe of passionate, liberated women–married and single–who are unwilling to settle for the stereotypical roles of middle age and are now realizing they don’t have to. As life spans grow longer and as societal constraints continue to loosen, older women–once free of the exhausting demands of young children, needy husbands, and demanding careers–find themselves ready to pursue the passionate life. They embrace their “second adulthood” as a period of reawakening.
Written in Sheehy’s singularly compelling style, combining interviews and research, this book gives voice to more than a hundred fascinating and colorful women. The inspiring stories tell of wives who reinvigorate their marriages after their children leave the nest as well as divorced, widowed, and long-single women who find new dreams and new loves. Sheehy delineates a crucial link between cultivating a new dream and reopening the pathway to intimacy and sexual pleasure. She also examines the latest medical breakthroughs addressing symptoms that have unnecessarily curtailed women’s sex lives.
From women who find their sexuality reawakened by a younger lover, to couples whose marriages survive health crises and grow stronger, to women who finally find a soulmate in their sixties, to stories from seasoned sirens in their seventies, eighties, and even nineties, these portraits cover an enormous range of experience. In them, Sheehy locates the universal patterns that enable us all to recognize and understand our own lives.
From the Hardcover edition.

Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.

About the Author :

Bestselling author and cultural observer Gail Sheehy made history with the publication of Passages, which was an international bestseller, appearing in twenty-eight languages. She followed up with The Silent Passage, New Passages, and Understanding Men’s Passages. Sheehy is also the author of Hillary’s Choice, a biography of Hillary Clinton, and Middletown, America, about a New Jersey town devastated by the World Trade Center attack. A contributing editor to Vanity Fair since 1984, Sheehy is the recipient of the Washington Journalism Review Award for Best Magazine Writer in America.

To schedule a speaking engagement, please contact American Program Bureau at www.apbspeakers.com  
From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :

Chapter 1

When Is It My Time?

My first glimpse of what I came to recognize as a seasoned woman came in a chance encounter at an Oakland restaurant. A popular entertainer who was seated at the next table overheard me talking with my husband about my book. She leaned over to ask what it would be about. “It’s about sex, love, and dating among women over fifty,” I blurted out.

The entertainer’s dinner companion rolled her eyes: “She’s the poster girl for dating and sex after fifty!”

The entertainer, whom we’ll call Bebe to protect her anonymity, was eager to elaborate. Bebe had been raised in the South with parents who were in love until the day they died. She had fully expected that she, like they, would marry for life. And happily, she had enjoyed an extended sexual honeymoon with the man she married in her twenties. It was in her forties that Bebe began to notice the cracks in their marriage. “But it’s like you see a hairline crack in the wall in your California house and you say, ‘Not to worry.’ A couple of years later, you notice the crack is now a quarter inch wide—don’t panic, it’s a plaster thing. Then one big shake and the whole house tumbles down and you say, ‘Wow, how did that happen?’ ”

In retrospect, she understands. Her frustration with her marriage was an echo of the complaint that fortyish husbands used before feminism went mainstream: “I’ve grown and, unfortunately, she hasn’t.” In Bebe’s marriage, as in many more today, it was the husband who resisted taking risks to grow. It took her five years to get up the courage to ask for a divorce. She took that final step a few months before her fiftieth birthday.

“You must be crazy,” she told herself. “You’re going to spend the rest of your life home alone watching reruns of The Brady Bunch.” But it wasn’t like that at all. Quite the opposite, she says; it’s been the greatest adventure of her life.

The sociologist in me cast about for a context into which to fit this revelation. In fact, even while Bebe was settled into staid married life, a new public square of midlife singles was being flooded with divorced and never-married women and men. All the old rules were up for renegotiation. What was it like out there? I prodded.

In the first couple of years after her divorce, Bebe said, she had felt shell-shocked. “I went through a stage of mourning and learning to be alone. But people kept coming into my path. I met men at the airport, the grocery store, at church. Because once I started opening my eyes, there were really men everywhere. It wasn’t like I was shopping, but they were flirting with me, talking to me, asking me out.” Her therapist told her, “You have a neon sign on your forehead that blares: Available.”

“Pretty young women with firm bodies scared me as long as I saw myself as having to compete with them,” she explained. “But what I found is I’m not in the same pool as they are. The older men who are looking for twenty- or thirty-something hard bodies are not the men who would look at me to begin with. These are two different universes.”

Bebe’s first dating experience turned the usual calculations on their head. He was a young man she met in church—and not just a little younger, fifteen years younger than she. “I was flabbergasted,” said Bebe. “I was thinking, ‘This gorgeous young man wants to go out with me?’ ” She bit the bullet and asked him, “Do you really know how old I am?” He said he didn’t care. She told him anyway: fifty. He didn’t seem fazed. He said she was smart and interesting and he just liked talking to her; he wanted to pursue it.

I asked Bebe if it was a revelation to her to have sex with somebody that young after living so many years with her husband. Her eyes danced and her voice jumped an octave.

“Oh, yeah! It was quite wonderful.” Bebe quickly qualified her expectations. “I never looked at him as somebody I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I don’t think he looked at me in that way, either. For six months we enjoyed each other’s company and had a lot of fun. I believe people come into your life for a reason. He was the one who came into my life to say, ‘It’s gonna be okay, you can do this.’ Getting over that hurdle was the big one.”

Most of our grandmothers would find this a strange conversation. Half a century ago, there were certainly exceptional 50-year-old women who had lovers, and married people in their sixties and seventies who still enjoyed each other sexually. But it wasn’t the norm. As the boundaries of our life span continue to expand in startling ways, the social definitions of age have shifted with the force of tectonic plates, altering just about everything.

Not all of us are as flashy as Bebe, nor do we all want to be, but I soon found that she is at the forefront of a trend. She is honest enough to admit that she misses some things about marriage. “When it was going well, we had great companionship.” But like most women over 50 who can afford to walk away from a relationship if it has become a safe but hollow shell, Bebe savors her independence. She may have a neon sign on her forehead blinking Available, but it doesn’t advertise Looking for Husband. She is looking for fun, companionship, maybe intimacy, but definitely satisfying sex.

•••



Sex and the Seasoned Woman is a book about a new universe of lusty, liberated women, some married and some not, who are unwilling to settle for the stereotypical roles of middle age. We are rediscovering who we are, or who we’d set out to be before we became wrapped up in the roles of our First Adulthood, when our primary focus was on nurturing children, husbands, or careers—or all three.

Millions of women today have struggled through all the predictable crises of their Tryout Twenties, Turbulent Thirties, and Forlorn Forties, and are bursting out into a whole new territory. Men, as they approach their fifties and sixties and start feeling the push to retire, often get a little shaky, wondering, Who will I be once stripped of the robes and powers of my position in the workplace? Women have changed robes so many times, they’re ready to strip down and start fresh, feeling a boost of independence, exhilaration about what could lie ahead, and a surge of new powers.

What makes a seasoned woman?

Time.

A seasoned woman is spicy. She has been marinated in life experience. Like a complex wine, she can be alternately sweet, tart, sparkling, mellow. She is both maternal and playful. Assured, alluring, and resourceful. She is less likely to have an agenda than a young woman—no biological clock tick-tocking beside her lover’s bed, no campaign to lead him to the altar, no rescue fantasies. The seasoned woman knows who she is. She could be any one of us, as long as she is committed to living fully and passionately in the second half of her life, despite failures and false starts.

Single boomer women like Bebe are not the only ones who are actively, even aggressively, seeking romance again, declaring their right to sexual satisfaction, and dreaming new dreams. Their boldness has caught on with “ladies” of earlier generations who were taught that their role was only to oblige their husbands and pick up after their children.

Margaret, an old friend and former radical who was still married to her only husband and living in rural New Hampshire, confided to me how shocked she was to hear stories from her contemporary female friends who are divorced or widowed in their sixties or seventies. “They’re having romantic escapades with young guys, they talk about erotic discoveries, a couple of them have fallen in love again, but they want relationships beyond conventional marriage.” Margaret still thought of herself as the free spirit who had walked the wild side in the 1960s. “I was the rebel, and they were the stick-in-the-muds. Now I’m the old married fuddy-duddy.”

But you do not have to break up your marriage to change your life. Long-married women are also waking up to the possibilities of postmenopausal sensuality and proposing new contracts to shake the staleness out of their relationships and release their deferred creative energies. I met a California couple in which the husband had given up a stressful career as an attorney to help his wife pursue her dream: opening her own bookstore. Life partners who help each other feed and grow their passions can enjoy the magnified rewards of a marriage revitalized in middle life.

Counting Backward

Just how old is a seasoned woman? I define it very much the way Auntie Mame’s friend Vera did when asked, “How old are you, anyway?”

“Somewhere between forty and death.”

It’s not over at 45 or 50, “it” being sex, intimacy, discovery of a new identity and a new passion in life. On the contrary, it begins all over again. Today, 50 is the start of a whole new cycle. You may have already lived an entire adulthood, but now you are at the beginning of another one—a portion of the life span that I identified in 1995 as our Second Adulthood.

Women’s lives are long and have many seasons. As contemporary women, if we’re healthy, we will likely be around longer than our mothers were. As I first reported in New Passages, epidemiologists say that a woman who reaches the age of 50 free of cancer and heart disease can expect to...

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Description du livre Random House USA Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. État : New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. A seasoned woman is spicy. She has been marinated in life experience. . . . She can be alternately sweet, tart, bubbly, mellow. She can be maternal and playful. Bossy and submissive. Strong and soft. . . . The seasoned woman knows who she is. She could be any one of us, as long as she is committed to living fully and passionately in the second half of life. In her most groundbreaking work since Passages and The Silent Passage, bestselling author Gail Sheehy reveals a hidden cultural phenomenon-increased vitality in women s sex and love lives after fifty. Sex and the Seasoned Woman is the story of an intimate revolution taking place under our very noses. Boomer generation women in midlife are open to sex, love, dating, new dreams, exploring spirituality, and revitalizing their marriages as never before. This is a new universe of passionate, liberated women-married and single-who are unwilling to settle for the stereotypical roles of middle age and are now realizing they don t have to. As life spans grow longer and as societal constraints continue to loosen, older women-once free of the exhausting demands of young children, needy husbands, and demanding careers-find themselves ready to pursue the passionate life. They embrace their second adulthood as a period of reawakening. Written in Sheehy s singularly compelling style, combining interviews and research, this book gives voice to more than a hundred fascinating and colorful women. The inspiring stories tell of wives who reinvigorate their marriages after their children leave the nest as well as divorced, widowed, and long-single women who find new dreams and new loves. Sheehy delineates a crucial link between cultivating a new dream and reopening the pathway to intimacy and sexual pleasure. She also examines the latest medical breakthroughs addressing symptoms that have unnecessarily curtailed women s sex lives. From women who find their sexuality reawakened by a younger lover, to couples whose marriages survive health crises and grow stronger, to women who finally find a soulmate in their sixties, to stories from seasoned sirens in their seventies, eighties, and even nineties, these portraits cover an enormous range of experience. In them, Sheehy locates the universal patterns that enable us all to recognize and understand our own lives. From the Hardcover edition. N° de réf. du libraire AAS9780812972740

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Description du livre Random House USA Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. État : New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. A seasoned woman is spicy. She has been marinated in life experience. . . . She can be alternately sweet, tart, bubbly, mellow. She can be maternal and playful. Bossy and submissive. Strong and soft. . . . The seasoned woman knows who she is. She could be any one of us, as long as she is committed to living fully and passionately in the second half of life. In her most groundbreaking work since Passages and The Silent Passage, bestselling author Gail Sheehy reveals a hidden cultural phenomenon-increased vitality in women s sex and love lives after fifty. Sex and the Seasoned Woman is the story of an intimate revolution taking place under our very noses. Boomer generation women in midlife are open to sex, love, dating, new dreams, exploring spirituality, and revitalizing their marriages as never before. This is a new universe of passionate, liberated women-married and single-who are unwilling to settle for the stereotypical roles of middle age and are now realizing they don t have to. As life spans grow longer and as societal constraints continue to loosen, older women-once free of the exhausting demands of young children, needy husbands, and demanding careers-find themselves ready to pursue the passionate life. They embrace their second adulthood as a period of reawakening. Written in Sheehy s singularly compelling style, combining interviews and research, this book gives voice to more than a hundred fascinating and colorful women. The inspiring stories tell of wives who reinvigorate their marriages after their children leave the nest as well as divorced, widowed, and long-single women who find new dreams and new loves. Sheehy delineates a crucial link between cultivating a new dream and reopening the pathway to intimacy and sexual pleasure. She also examines the latest medical breakthroughs addressing symptoms that have unnecessarily curtailed women s sex lives. From women who find their sexuality reawakened by a younger lover, to couples whose marriages survive health crises and grow stronger, to women who finally find a soulmate in their sixties, to stories from seasoned sirens in their seventies, eighties, and even nineties, these portraits cover an enormous range of experience. In them, Sheehy locates the universal patterns that enable us all to recognize and understand our own lives. From the Hardcover edition. N° de réf. du libraire AAS9780812972740

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Description du livre Random House USA Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. État : New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. A seasoned woman is spicy. She has been marinated in life experience. . . . She can be alternately sweet, tart, bubbly, mellow. She can be maternal and playful. Bossy and submissive. Strong and soft. . . . The seasoned woman knows who she is. She could be any one of us, as long as she is committed to living fully and passionately in the second half of life. In her most groundbreaking work since Passages and The Silent Passage, bestselling author Gail Sheehy reveals a hidden cultural phenomenon-increased vitality in women s sex and love lives after fifty. Sex and the Seasoned Woman is the story of an intimate revolution taking place under our very noses. Boomer generation women in midlife are open to sex, love, dating, new dreams, exploring spirituality, and revitalizing their marriages as never before. This is a new universe of passionate, liberated women-married and single-who are unwilling to settle for the stereotypical roles of middle age and are now realizing they don t have to. As life spans grow longer and as societal constraints continue to loosen, older women-once free of the exhausting demands of young children, needy husbands, and demanding careers-find themselves ready to pursue the passionate life. They embrace their second adulthood as a period of reawakening. Written in Sheehy s singularly compelling style, combining interviews and research, this book gives voice to more than a hundred fascinating and colorful women. The inspiring stories tell of wives who reinvigorate their marriages after their children leave the nest as well as divorced, widowed, and long-single women who find new dreams and new loves. Sheehy delineates a crucial link between cultivating a new dream and reopening the pathway to intimacy and sexual pleasure. She also examines the latest medical breakthroughs addressing symptoms that have unnecessarily curtailed women s sex lives. From women who find their sexuality reawakened by a younger lover, to couples whose marriages survive health crises and grow stronger, to women who finally find a soulmate in their sixties, to stories from seasoned sirens in their seventies, eighties, and even nineties, these portraits cover an enormous range of experience. In them, Sheehy locates the universal patterns that enable us all to recognize and understand our own lives. From the Hardcover edition. N° de réf. du libraire BTE9780812972740

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