Posts Tagged ‘birth control pills’

Yep. The 50s were fabulous

March 9, 2012

So. Despite a couple of cancellations and some rescheduling, I have now wrapped up the 10 in-depth interviews for women in their 50s.

I suppose it was completely predictable that I would feel connected to these women. They’re my contemporaries and I feel a kinship with each, sharing as we do a list of common points of reference. I find delight in talking to women of all ages, but it’s lovely to note that extra little spark that kicks in when someone identifies with all your childhood memories and markers.

As a prelude to writing, I’m compiling a cheat sheet, a helpful habit I developed four or five chapters ago. It’s a crude chart that simply includes name, age, pseudonym, number of marriages, number of kids, number of sexual partners, frequency of sex … basically just a few quick details so I can do comparisons and know at a glance what percentages I’m dealing with. It helps to jump-start the process of identifying trends within the decades.

One thing I immediately noticed this time was the effect of birth control pills. Not a single woman in her 50s married due to pregnancy, while 33 percent of the 60-something interviewees did just that. Another 33 percent of the 60s women got pregnant on their honeymoons, proving that although The Pill was technically available to that older decade of women, its cultural and practical assimilation took years.

Another difference — which may or may not be connected to the elapsed decade — is the number of women who identified themselves as bi-sexual or lesbian. When possible, we strove to include a lesbian woman in each decade’s interviewees, wanting their voices included. A gay woman in her 60s and one in her 50s were therefore part of our sampling. But two additional 50-somethings told me they were bi-sexual during our interviews.

Their stories were very different but equally fascinating: Christina dated women exclusively during her 20s, but has since returned to a heterosexual lifestyle; Alexa began having sex with women only after she and her husband entered the swinger lifestyle when she was in her late 30s.

Christina lost her virginity to her first boyfriend at age 16 and dated him for 4 years. She had another male lover as well, but then as a freshman in college, began a lesbian relationship, and dated women exclusively for a decade.

“In my 20s and into my early 30s, I considered myself bi-sexual,” she says, “but in the past decade, when I think about making love to another woman, I find it unappealing. So I would not consider myself to be bi-sexual anymore. However, when I was younger, I was open to not only sex with either gender, but a relationship.”

At age 30, Christina started dating a man.

“It wasn’t a gender issue,” she clarifies, “it was a relationship issue. I happened to be attracted to him as a person. At that time in my life, the circumstances were right. I didn’t just wake up one day and say, ‘I’m gonna go back to men.'”

After that relationship, Christina dated one more woman, and that was the last time. She says she stopped being interested in women around the age of 31.

“I think women have much more in common with other women,” she says. “I have a hard time understanding men, I truly do. I understand women much better, but there’s not that physical attraction any longer. There’s still an emotional attraction, but not a physical one.”

Alexa, on the other hand, is attracted to women physically, but has had no exclusive, long-term relationship with one. She considers herself bi-sexual, having engaged in multiple encounters with women in groups through the years (sometimes with one other couple, sometimes with several other couples).

Though she’s now a widow, during the 16 years when she and her husband Greg were swingers, Alexa says she looked forward to sex with the women: “Women know women’s bodies a lot better than most men, I would say.”

However, she never had sex without Greg’s presence.

“He loved to watch two women getting it on,” she recalls. “For guys, it’s like their favorite fantasy.”

There’s more to Alexa’s story (she became involved with a bi-sexual man after Greg died), but it’s all rather involved as you can imagine, so full disclosure will have to wait.

Meanwhile, have you visited the website we set up for Kiss and Tell ? If you share your email with us, we’ll notify you when the book is published.

Yes, that’s still a ways off, but it’s getting closer all the time!

Sizzling 60s

January 30, 2012

If the nine women in their 60s I’ve interviewed for Kiss & Tell are representative of their decade — and I have every reason to think they are — readers are in for a big surprise.

What thoughtful, rich material they are adding to the book. And what wisdom they bring. In this decade, I find most women are taking stock of their relationships, their sexual history and their choices — both bad and good — in an effort to glean what lessons they might carry into their futures. It’s been an inspiring chapter, I have to say.

Today’s 60something women were high school girls during the 60s, so the winds of societal change were beginning to pick up. Though the Pill was talked about, virtually no high schoolers used it for fear of the stigma attached. Today, when girls can openly ask their gynecologists for birth control alternatives without fear of moral condemnation, it’s hard to recall how narrow the choices were not so long ago.

I’m sure several of our nine ladies wish they’d had at least the option of birth control. Except for the one lesbian in the group, all the women were intensely fearful of premarital pregnancy, and three had those fears realized, becoming pregnant in their teens. Another three conceived almost the second they married and a fourth became pregnant within a few months. While listening to their stories, I could clearly see why the Pill was poised to revolutionize the female sexual experience.

The total number of marriages for this group — 14 — further illustrates the transition society was making in its acceptance of divorce and therefore multiple sexual partners. Three of the women had 30 or more partners; two had a dozen. Just two of the nine interviewees remain married to their sole partner.

One newlywed, a bubbly 63-year-old, supplied fresh energy to the group. Another described a satisfying love life she shares with a longtime lover. But several of the divorced and single women were between relationships and — despite happy memories of previous partners — had not been sexually active for periods of 7 months to 7 years. Some were on the lookout, while others wondered if their window for a satisfying relationship might be closing.

Sophia, an attractive 68-year-old widow who was introduced to a couple of lovers through her ballroom dancing connections, hasn’t taken a lover in a year and a half.

“I don’t know where to meet men anymore,” she laments. “In my heart, I say I’ve been single too long.”

Another woman, a statuesque and striking blonde named Laura, has come to feel uncomfortable with the increasing demands she fields for oral sex.

“I resent a man that wants oral sex more than he wants regular sex, because it doesn’t do anything for me sexually. If that’s what he wants more than anything, then he’s selfish. I find as they get older, they want that more and more.

“If that’s true, then I’ll just pass,” she concludes.

And then there’s Jana, who at 68 has just discovered she can be multi-orgasmic, and is willing to tell us all about it.

Yep. The sexy 60s ladies have views that are wide ranging, but I find that to be true for the women of each chapter. And yet the similarities are always visible, running through their stories and reminding us all that there is much we share in this realm.