Walker J. Thornton is an author and public speaker, focusing on aging and sexuality, at www.walkerthornton.com, where you can sign up for her newsletter. Follow Walker on Instagram @wjt62
As a public speaker and writer my mission is to encourage women in Aging Unapologetically tackling taboo topics like pleasure-filled sex and how to rebel against societal expectations for aging women. I see myself as a permission giver and an enabler, inciting women to ask for what they want, to explore their desires and lead more intentional lives.
I love what I do, particularly when my message resonates with someone. I talk about sex openly as an act of countering the sense of shame and embarrassment many women feel around their sexuality. Women should not have to be embarrassed in voicing wants and desires. Our society is uncomfortable with the idea of older women as sexual beings; but, that doesn’t mean that we have to silence our voices, or our desires.
Who decided older bodies and faces are less desirable? Who says our desires for intimacy, pleasure, and play disappear at some predetermined age?
The choice is ours as to how we show up; and, we can choose to create our own patterns for living that are outside of the ‘norms’ for older women. One of the exercises I use with participants is to make a list of all the things they desire. Free-owing, without all the shoulds and should-nots. The goal is to tap into those desires we may not even be aware of. To say, even on a piece of paper, this is what I want. It is an act of defiance—I can do what I want as an aging woman. It is an act of self-care to see ourselves as worthy of those deepest desires. And sex will surely pop up on the list for some of you. One of my 60th birthday wishes was to have sex with a 40-year-old. I made it happen, and though it wasn’t as fabulous as I envisioned, it was fun. The powerful part, aside from being desired by this man, was articulating what I wanted and pursuing that desire.
And why not?
Why is it so hard for women to embrace their aging selves? Why do we feel we aren’t entitled to pleasure, in all its forms?
Understanding and taking charge of my own desire led me to expand my work with older women. I often write and talk about sex, but the real focus is helping empower women to seek and create pleasure. The ability to give voice to our wants and desires allows us to open up to all aspects of our lives—the work we do, how we relate to others, our creativity—all impacted when we express our deeper desires.
Whatever you desire, sex or something different, give yourself permission to explore it. Look at this new phase of your life as one of possibility. Shift the focus from loss and change to ask yourself this question, what do I want right now? And allow yourself to want as much as you want. It will open you to a new way of looking at your life.
- As older women you have the right to take charge of your sexual desire.
- Give yourself permission to ask for what you want.
- Aging Unapologetically invites you to view aging as an exploration of possibilities.
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