Ms. Fonda discusses life from two perspectives, an arch and a staircase, supposedly taken from the work of Rudolf Arnheim, the late professor emeritus of the psychology of art at Harvard University. She includes two illustrations in her book.
One diagram, the arch, represents a biological concept, taking us from childhood to a middle peak of maturity, followed by a decline into infirmity.
The other, a staircase, shows our potential for upward progression toward wisdom, spiritual growth, learning— toward, in other words, consciousness and soul.
Ms. Fonda says that our culture, which seems to be youth-obsessed, encourages us to focus on the arch – age as physical decline – rather than on the staircase – age as our continued development. While this seems to be some interesting ideas, one can’t help noting that these ideas come to light when Ms. Fonda is 73 and did not occur to her when she was, let’s say, 23. With age comes perspective.
Besides the philosophy, there’s the sex and Ms. Fonda readily admits to being sexually active and having some of the best sex of her life. Traditionally, the 70s would be the age of a grandmother and traditionally grandmothers have never been looked upon as being sexual. However Fonda points out that we are all living longer and with longer lives, our attitudes towards life are changing. Instead of “declining into infirmity”, we would like to continue living our lives but with a certain quality of life.
If there is a spring in Ms. Fonda’s step, it would seem that the scientific community has an explanation: women who are satisfied with their sex life are happier over all. The Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Diego conducted a study of 1,235 women between the ages of 60 and 89 and found that successful aging and a positive outlook on life correlated with sexual satisfaction. The report, published online in the August edition of the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, also shows that these women reported a good quality of life even though they did face declines in physical health. Good sex makes up for anything?
Wesley K. Thompson, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry with the Stein Institute for Research on Aging was quoted as saying, “Contrary to our earlier hypothesis, sexual satisfaction was not significantly associated with age. Although the levels of sexual activity and functioning did vary significantly, depending on the woman’s age, their perceived quality of life, successful aging and sexual satisfaction remained positive.” (Science Daily)
Previous research from the Stein Institute had suggested that how people rate their own health changes little with age even if objectively, health indicators show age-associated decline. This new study confirms this idea adding the sex factor as part of our “perceived” quality of life.
Professor Thompson continued, “What this study tells us is that many older adults retain their ability to enjoy sex well into old age. This is especially true of older adults who maintain a higher level of physical and mental health as they grow older. Furthermore, feeling satisfied with your sex life — whatever your levels of sexual activity — is closely related to your perceived quality of life. While we cannot assess cause and effect from this study, these results suggest that maintaining a high level of sexual satisfaction may positively reinforce other psychological aspects of successful aging.”
Fonda admits to using this male hormone to boost her sex drive. While the treatment is considered controversial, she has stated quite candidly in several interviews that it has been a help to her.
“Here’s something I haven’t said publicly yet: I discovered testosterone about three years ago, which makes a huge difference if you want to remain sexual and your libido has dropped.” (Telegraph)
Testosterone patches are effective at treating low libido in post-menopausal women. Low libido may also occur as a symptom or outcome of hormonal contraceptive use. Women may also use testosterone therapies to treat or prevent loss of bone density, muscle mass and to treat certain kinds of depression and low energy state. Women on testosterone therapies may experience an increase in weight without an increase in body fat due to changes in bone and muscle density. Most undesired effects of testosterone therapy in women may be controlled by hair-reduction strategies, acne prevention, etc. There is a theoretical risk that testosterone therapy may increase the risk of breast or gynaecological cancers, and further research is needed to define any such risks more clearly. (Wikipedia: Testosterone: Medical uses)
Fonda in her book discusses sex openly covering such topics as masturbation, sex toys and Viagra. Yes, we’re all living longer and here’s somebody who wants to ensure those later years are just as good as the early ones.
“A woman could be upset about a man liking to watch porn films,” she says. “But it’s important for the woman to know why. It’s not that he doesn’t love you or that you don’t turn him on, it’s more that men, as they get older, do need more stimulation. Men are way more visual than women.”
Is she talking from experience?
“Sure. I have found from my own experience that instead of fighting him you should join him. You go and choose the porn film. They make some that are more appealing to women now. That means you’re halfway home.” What about talking dirty? “I’ve done it all.” Licking chocolate off your partner? “That’s something I have not done, but I know people who have.” (Telegraph)
Yogi Berra was the manager of the New York Mets. In the middle of the 1973 season, the team was stuck in last place in a tight divisional race. When reporters asked Berra if the season was finished, he said,
“It ain’t over till it’s over.”
The Mets rallied and went on to win the division title in the final day of the season. Yogi Berra has been quoted many times over for saying what is obvious but what turned out to be profoundly philosophical.
The obvious: if you’re not dead, you’re still alive. And if you’re still alive, you can live your life. Jane Fonda, at the age of 73, has a fake hip and a fake knee but is still going strong admitting that she is still sexually active and having good sex at that.
In my blog posting Sex: 1% vs. 99%, I point out, with a mathematical calculation, how sex is probably only 1% of our lives. However it is so very, very, very important that it can have the most dramatic of effects on the other 99% of our lives. In other words, if you have a good 1% you are more likely to have a good 99%.
In Sex: Over 50, over the hill?, I discuss that yes, sex is possible but obviously it’s going to be different. We do physically age and as the joke goes: I’m not as good as I once was but I’m as good once as I ever was.
To conclude, being sexually active later is life is possible. But more importantly, being sexually active is an important component of one’s “perceived” quality of life. Wait! Doesn’t having sex make anybody feel better about themselves, about the world and about life in general no matter what their age? Make love, not war. Heck if you make love you don’t feel like making war!
It’s good to know in following Ms. Fonda that there is life after 60 or 70 and even 80. Maybe the younger crowd might be taken aback by the “old fogeys” but Fonda makes a good point when she says in an interview, “We’re living 34 years longer than our great-grandparents did. That’s an entire second adult lifetime. Why should we pack it in in any way when you have all that time?” (The Globe and Mail) As long as we’re alive, let’s (try and) make it a good one!
“I’ll give you my vibrator when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!”
Urban Dictionary: Grey-Sex
Adjective. Sexual intercourse between old people. The female participant must be post menopausal. The male participants are overweight baby boomer types over 50 years old. The quality of sex is poor and the sexual act is quick.
Baby Boomer Bill went to the ‘Mosman Rowers’ (defined)to have some ‘gre-sex’.
Urban Dictionary: Mosman Rowers
n. A licensed premises located above the Mosman Rowing Club, in the affluent northern suburb of Mosman in Sydney, Australia. It is a famous ‘pick-up’ joint frequented by divorced females aged over 45. The women patrons are usually over-weight, well-worn (ugly and used-up), have dyed blond hair and wear inappropriately tight fitting clothing (borrowed from their 24 year old daughter’s wardrobe). The male patrons are all baby boomer types over 50 years old, sporting a grey moustache (or other grey facial hair) and have a massive ‘beer-gut’ (fat stomachs). These sad creatures usually consume large amounts of alcohol before leaving with someone they have never met for a 5 minute session of ‘grey-sex’.
Bill went to the Mosman Rowers to grab a granny. He needed 5 minutes of poor quality ‘grey-sex’.
Google search: sex over 60
Wikipedia: Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda (born Lady Jayne Seymour Fonda; December 21, 1937) is an American actress, writer, political activist, former fashion model, and fitness guru.
Wikipedia: Rudof Arnheim
Rudolf Arnheim (July 15, 1904 – June 9, 2007) was a German-born author, art and film theorist and perceptual psychologist. He himself said that his major books are Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye (1954), Visual Thinking (1969), and The Power of the Center: A Study of Composition in the Visual Arts (1982), but it is Art and Visual Perception for which he was most widely known. Revised, enlarged and published as a New Version in 1974, it has been translated into 14 languages, and is very likely one of the most widely read and influential art books of the twentieth century.
National Post – Aug 25/2011
Third Act Twist by Angela Hickman
She may have a fake hip and a fake knee, but don’t think for one second that Jane Fonda is slowing down. When she arrived for an interview in Toronto this week, the 73-year-old Oscar-winning actress and author was wearing chic black suede boots with what must have been three inch heels.
The Globe and Mail – Aug 23/2011
Jane Fonda on boomer sex: ‘It’s young people that have the hang-up’ by Nick Patch
Jane Fonda’s new book features several chapters devoted to encouraging sexuality in old age, a topic she knows is uncomfortable for many people. Young people, that is. “It’s young people that have the hang-up,” the 73-year-old icon said while chatting at a chic Toronto hotel this week. “I think as the population ages in general, the taboo around sex at an older age will be lessened. Because after all, baby boomers think they invented sex, you know? Their knees and hips will go before their sex [drive] will.
The Globe and Mail – Jan 21/2011
Am I just ‘too old’ for sex? by Claudia Dey
My husband and I married in our 60s and are the loves of each other’s lives. Although his diabetes prevented full sexual activity, with inventiveness we were able to be loving and satisfied. Now that we are 70, he still desires physical intimacy and is disappointed that I have zero sexual “twinges.” I am not sure if it is because of my hypertension medicine. I hate to say I am just too old. Suggestions?
The Globe and Mail – Jul 3/2009
The secret to good sex: aging by Zosia Bielski
Despite aging bones and decades spent sharing the conjugal bed, old married people just might do it better. That’s what Peggy Kleinplatz of the faculty of medicine at the University of Ottawa discovered after putting out a call for “great lovers” across Canada and the United States. She and her team were deluged with married people who boasted that they’d enjoyed their unions – and sex lives – for a quarter of a century.
The Telegraph – Aug 27/2011
Jane Fonda on sex at 70 by Nigel Farndale
The actress turned author explains why, at 73, she’s happier than ever – and shares some very surprising secrets
The Telegraph – Aug 27/2011
Jane Fonda tells how she boosts her sex life with testosterone by Adam Lusher
Jane Fonda, the actress, has told how she used the hormone testosterone to boost her love life – after publishing a book containing sex tips for the over-70s.
The Daily Mail – Aug 27/2011
People with a healthy sex life cope better with ageing… just ask Jane Fonda By Emily Andrews
It’s cheering news for anyone of a certain age. Those with a healthy love life cope better with ageing, a study has found. Following the example of movie stars such as Jane Fonda and Joan Collins, women who are satisfied with their sex life are happier over all.
Amazon: Jane Fonda
Prime Time: Love, health, sex, fitness, friendship, spirit–making the most of all of your life
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Random House (August 9, 2011)
Highlighting new research and stories from her own life and from the lives of others, Jane Fonda explores how the critical years from 45 and 50, and especially from 60 and beyond, can be times when we truly become the energetic, loving, fulfilled people we were meant to be. Covering the 11 key ingredients for vital living, Fonda invites you to consider with her how to live a more insightful, healthy, and fully integrated life, a life lived more profoundly in touch with ourselves, our bodies, minds, and spirits, and with our talents, friends, and communities.
In her research, Fonda discovered two metaphors, the arch and the staircase, that became for her two visions of life. She shows how to see your life the staircase way, as one of continual ascent. She explains how she came to understand the earlier decades of her life by performing a life review, and she shows how you can do a life review too. She reveals how her own life review enabled her to let go of old patterns, to see what means the most to her, and then to cultivate new goals and dreams, to make the most of the mature years. For there has been a longevity revolution, and the average human life expectancy has jumped by years. Fonda asks, what we are meant to do with this precious gift of time? And she writes about how we can navigate the fertile voids that life periodically presents to us. She makes suggestions about exercise (including three key movements for optimal health), diet (how to eat by color), meditation, and how learning new things and creating fresh pathways in your brain can add quality to your life. Fonda writes of positivity, and why many people are happier in the second half of their lives than they have ever been before.
In her #1 New York Times bestselling memoir, My Life So Far, Jane Fonda focused on the first half of her extraordinary life—what she called Acts I and II—with an eye toward preparing for a vibrant Act III. Now we have a thoughtfully articulated memoir and guide for how to make all of your life, and especially Act III, Prime Time.
Review of Jane Fonda’s book by prisrob
One of the biggest obstacles that most people face in moving ahead is that they really don’t know how to go forward. The best method is to look at the past and analyze what has occurred. Find out where you have been, and then try to arrange a plan for the future- a life review. Jane Fonda suggests using a stairway and steps as a metaphor. It sounds complex, but once you read about the steps, it seems so plausible. Jane Fonda is very explicit in her discussions of sex and sexuality in our later years. She discusses quite openly how to promote the best sex life you can have, and the steps to take to get there. Jane shares her life. She lets us know where she has been and where she is now,and where she hopes to be in 5 or 10 years. She is in a constant state of learning, taking on new challenges one after another.
Review of Jane Fonda’s book by O. Brown
The author discusses eleven key ingredients for vital living and successful aging: (1) not abusing alcohol, (2) not smoking, (3) getting enough sleep, (4) being physically active, (5) eating a healthy diet, (6) brain health through learning, (7) positivity, (8) introspection and life review, (9) connection, (10) generativity, and (11) caring about the bigger pictures. She covers these areas in depth, including working out (with an actual workout for older folks in an appendix)–which you’d expect. She includes a very frank, helpful, and in-depth discussion of sex (including masturbation, sex toys, and erectile dysfunction medications) in an open and tasteful manner. She also discusses practical social problems of aging like poverty, nursing home care, elder abuse, etc. She includes the topic of meditation–a work-“in”–as well as well as the discussions of working out.
Science Daily – Aug 24/2011
Sexual Satisfaction Tied to Overall ‘Successful Aging’ as Reported by Women Age 60 to 89
A study by researchers at the Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Diego finds that successful aging and positive quality of life indicators correlate with sexual satisfaction in older women.
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
Association Between Higher Levels of Sexual Function, Activity, and Satisfaction and Self-Rated Successful Aging in Older Postmenopausal Women
[Note: The full article is only available on a paid basis.]
OBJECTIVES: To determine whether measures of successful aging are associated with sexual activity, satisfaction, and function in older postmenopausal women.
SETTING: Community-dwelling older postmenopausal women in the greater San Diego region.
PARTICIPANTS: One thousand two hundred thirty-five community-dwelling women aged 60 to 89 participating at the San Diego site of the Women’s Health Initiative.
MEASUREMENTS: Demographic information and self-reported measures of sexual activity, function, and satisfaction and successful aging.
RESULTS: Sexual activity and functioning (desire, arousal, vaginal tightness, use of lubricants, and ability to climax) were negatively associated with age, as were physical and mental health. In contrast, sexual satisfaction and self-rated successful aging and quality of life remained unchanged across age groups. Successful aging measures were positively associated with sexual measures, especially self-rated quality of life and sexual satisfaction.
CONCLUSION: Self-rated successful aging, quality of life, and sexual satisfaction appear to be stable in the face of declines in physical health, some cognitive abilities, and sexual activity and function and positively associated with each other from age 60 to 89.
Stein Institute for Research on Aging
The University of California at San Diego, School of Medecine
Higher levels of sexual function, activity, and satisfaction are associated with self-rated successful aging in older post-menopausal women: Thompson WK, Charo L, Vahia, IV, Depp C, Allison M and Jeste DV: Higher levels of sexual function, activity, and satisfaction are associated with self-rated successful aging in older post-menopausal women. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (in press, 2011))
Wikipedia: I’ll give you my gun when you take it from my cold, dead hands
[This] is a slogan popularized by the National Rifle Association (NRA) on a series of bumper stickers.
Click HERE to read more from William Belle
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