Does anyone even use the word "laid" anymore???
I guess it's called 'hooking up' now. Whatever. The fact is -- irrespective of what you call it -- many Baby Boomers are not doing it or getting it anymore.
In my doctoral dissertation, "Invisible: Sexual Invisibility and Baby Boomers," I heard the same heartache, frustration, and bitterness over and over from interviewees who, through the uncontrollable and therefore wondrous journey of aging, are no longer enjoying the simple pleasure of sex. Sexual Invisibility, by the way, is defined as a feeling that we are no longer sexual beings or that others no longer perceive us as sexual beings. Sexual Invisibility and its big sister Social Invisibility may just be two more threads in a web of isolation threatening the very fabric of who we are.
We are all sexual beings from the womb to the tomb. You can't cut it off or cut it out, and although we may age into it we rarely age out of it. In spite of that it feels, at times, like a through-the-looking-glass moment where Seinfeld's Soup Guy yells out no sex for you!
We live and love in an America where cultural biases have created a state of social and sexual isolation for older adults. Media, movies and television in the fifties and sixties presented images of Baby Boomers as sexless grandmas and grandpas, past ambition, past passion, and of course, past sex. Can you imagine Aunt Bee getting it?
And we seem to have bought into it.
If you spent a childhood inundated with images and advertising attributing beauty, intelligence, power, charisma, and glamour with youth, you might just start believing it. If you heard critical or punishing tones of conversation directed at older adults who dared to express their sexuality, you just might consciously or unconsciously suppress those feelings in yourself when you reached those years. You might even come to abhor the notion of aging and anything or anyone attached to it.
Many Boomers reach a place where a curtain of invisibility closes in front of us, where our own peers do not or cannot see us in a sexual fashion, or as one women who had just turned fifty told me: "men look through me now like I'm a piece of glass."
It's what we know, learned, were culturally hardwired for; a whole generation of older adults in conflict with themselves, conflicts reinforced by peers who have removed the mantle of sexuality from us, turning their gazes to younger men and women who may in turn perceive us every bit as asexually as we ourselves do.
What can it mean for our wellbeing when we submit to this faulty wiring of cognitive dissonance? After all, having sex is just one part of the expression of our sexuality. What of the intimacy that may develop in relationships, the tender bliss of connection that makes all things possible? What of the playfulness of desire? Or the barren pain of a broken relationship couched in the joy of sensual experience.
Our sexuality allows that, it provides that. Don't we need this full expression of our sexuality in the dance towards authenticity? Are we just a bit more disconnected from ourselves and isolated from others without it?
Finally, what kind of hit does our self worth take when our internal and external world ceases to recognize us as sexual creatures? Is there an inherent disrespect for ourselves and from others when we choose not to acknowledge a primordial piece of who and what we are?
There is more work to be done. My research on sexual and social invisibility and aging continues to yield fascinating data that is both surprising and illuminating. Myself and others in the field press on, gaining understanding, building awareness, inching forward.