Men and sex ….kind of like asking for directions. Last week, in my workshop about sex at midlife plus, fifty men and women over the age of 60 discussed the changes in our attitude toward sex in the past century. How many women? Forty five. How many men? Do the math: five. After the workshop, the men who attended asked me, why so few men?
We know the answer: stereotypically, men are from mars. Men don’t need to find out, men already know. The boomer plus generation grew up with John Wayne, Paladin (Have Gun, Will Travel, remember?), and Bonanza. Bad guys got killed by good guys because the good guys knew it all. Only wimps had to ask how. We can only assume the same blind directives came (so to speak) in bed.
I asked for volunteers from the group to form an advisory committee, so we could continue the conversations about sex and maturity. Feature this: I had 3 men volunteer and 3 women! The men, it turns out, are hungry for information.
What’s happened to John Wayne, et al? A couple of exchanges during the workshop opened the door for them to want more.
- We talked about Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, 1948. A pivotal point for men. I asked why. A physician in the group (still practicing at 80) identified the book as the go-ahead for men to masturbate. Prior to this, men were shamed and humiliated about the subject (not that many aren’t still disgraced today) . It will stunt your growth (tough luck for the men with short genes). You will get hairy palms (who started that one?). Not so! Says Kinsey. It’s normal, natural, and – gasp – healthy. The men in the seminar actually talked about masturbation, probably for the first time, ever. Imagine: the book came out in 1948. It’s 61 years later, and finally the audience Kinsey was trying to reach is in dialogue about it!
- The summer of love, 1967 and The Joy of Sex, Alex Comfort, 1972. The Boomer generation stood up to the Victorian values of their parents and said, No More! Reminding these men in the seminar that the summer of love changed everything, allowed them, at their age, to come out, finally, and talk about sex. What a concept – and what a relief for these men.
- Prostate cancer prevention: research today is telling us that the prostate is a gland. It needs liquid passing through it. A medical incentive for some self pleasuring! Who knew?
I’ve not seen men this excited about sex talk, ever. At the next planning session, the 3 of them announced that it was their personal mission to get other men at the next discussions – men of all ages, and all sexual orientations. I watch them exhale. Ah, permission to ask how. As a sex educator, my heart sings.