Saturday, 7 September 2019

Lynn Brown Rosenberg: My sexual awakening at 70

What happens to a woman who seeks to rediscover her sexuality at 70? Does she visit a sex store? Does she buy toys and porn? Does she push her boundaries to even greater extremes by joining a sex chat website? She does all of this and a whole lot more! Interweaving a repressed and intimidating upbringing with her lively and uncensored search for sexual liberation (complete with writing erotic stories), Rosenberg discovers it’s never too late to find freedom and begin life anew.

How to review this book? I'm sure that upon reading the title, buyers like myself would be attracted by the potential for titillation. However, I found myself frequently disturbed by the author's childhood. Mom and Dad repeatedly demonstrated a self-involvement to the point of ignoring their daughter or finding her an inconvenience in their lives. In fact, at one point, when the author was in her twenties, Dad confessed that if they could do it all over again, they wouldn't have children. I'm sure we all at one point or another have reflected on our lives, the choices we made, the choices we possibly should have made, but to say that to your own daughter? That bowled me over.

Before returning to the book, I have to get this off my chest. A long time ago, I recognised that collectively we allow ourselves to do certain things without supervision and without any testing to prove we're capable of doing such a thing. What things? Sex, marriage, and parenting. I have to take lessons and pass an exam in order to get a driver's license. I have to go to university, do an internship, and pass the medical board's requirements before I'm allowed to perform brain surgery. But nobody's going to check my qualifications before having sex, getting married, or bringing a child into the world. Some people are naturals. Most people are taking a whack at it, learning with on-the-job training. But some do it because they think they're supposed to do it but don't really want to do it and consequently, end up doing it in a half-hearted fashion. There were numerous times throughout Ms. Rosenberg's memoir when she recounted life with her parents, and I cringed. People don't realize they would be doing the world a favor if they did not have children as opposed to their second- or third-rate parenting and the negative effect it has on another human being. Congratulations to the author for having survived and managing to come out the other side.

Back to the sex.

How many of us had no talks about sex from our parents? I mean literally nothing. You're on your own. Figure it out yourself. The author grew up in the fifties and sixties and Mom and Dad reflected back on her the sexuality of that era, that is, good girls never do before marriage. Doing so makes a woman tawdry, a prostitute. Talk about slut-shaming and sex-shaming. Add on top of this how they were cruel and abusive toward their own daughter, and I'm surprised the author had any sex at all.

Ms. Rosenberg eventually meets a man, and they fall in love. He becomes her husband. But as she writes:

"I think there were many reason why Jerry and I didn't click sexually, and my inhibition was one of them. I was trained that I'd be thought of as a prostitute if I was too enthusiastic or creative when it came to sex, let alone if I enjoyed it. I didn't want Jerry to think of me that way, or to think of myself that way. Above all, I needed to be "good," especially with a man who really cared about me."

Elsewhere, I have wondered how much our culture has influenced our behavior and our gender roles to the point of affecting our relationship with our spouse, supposedly the one person in life with whom we should theoretically have the most open and honest rapport. The author is worried that if she expresses herself sexually, her husband will see her as "cheap". How many marriages in the world have been saddled with a mediocre sex life because one or both partners are worried about how they think society wants them to behave? Ms. Rosenberg can't be open with her husband and ends up not being open with herself.

After fifteen years of marriage, her husband dies of cancer. She lives alone, but then has an epiphany.

Joan Price - Aug 12/2019
Let Freedom Ring: The Joy and Novelty of No-Risk, Anonymous Sex by Lynn Brown Rosenberg
I had gone 12 years without sex, and I didn’t want to live that way anymore.

I changed psychological medications and that made a difference right away. But I also realized I had been repressed sexually for decades. That began to crystallize when I told my urologist I hadn’t had an orgasm in many years. She suggested I get some porn and a vibrator. I did exactly that!

Although reluctant at first to discuss my sex life, or the lack thereof, with my therapist, I began to relax after he reassured me, “Don’t worry, I’ve heard it all.” I learned from him about porn you can watch in the Internet.

I watched some pretty interesting stuff and became especially intrigued with one video where the woman talked to the man, telling him what she was going to do to him and asking him if he liked it. She stroked him as she talked, and this was all he needed have an explosive orgasm. This aroused me — it was sexy, safe, and the kind of part-way point I needed to get back to sex.

During another session, I told my doctor I missed having no one in my life to talk to about my sexual desires. He told me about sex chat websites like BeNaughty.com and Flirthut.com. What?! There was no way I was going to talk sex with strangers. And besides, what in the world would I say?

And then I remembered the woman who talked and brought the man to ecstasy. I went back to that video and wrote down word-for-word what she said. Having the words pushed aside my unease. Sure, I was nervous, but willing to give it a try.


Lynn writes erotica
A 70-year-old woman writing explicit sex scenes complete with four-letter words may surprise you, shock you, and titillate you. But I assure you, millions, no tens of millions of people are doing this every day across the globe. Maybe you haven't done it, but it is going on. While my life may be parochial, I'm reminded that there are people out there living extraordinary lives.

Ms. Rosenberg includes several examples of her erotic stories in her book. I would label this "throwaway erotica". This is the type of thing you read when you're horny, or write when you're horny, or possibly share with a partner when you're horny and want to get them horny. This isn't great literature; there will be no Pulitzer Prize. But it does serve the purpose of expressing yourself. Sometimes you want to say, "I love you," and sometimes you want to say, "I lust you." Sexual energy begets sexual energy.

I once knew a couple who were having an affair. She lived on the east coast, and he lived on the west coast. Their relationship was hot, like on fire. Periodically, they got together for a weekend tryst of passion measuring 9.5 on the Richter scale.

But while apart, both of them wrote and independently published erotica. They sold books. Curious, I bought some. Profane, scandalous, and oh so passionate. I realized what they were doing: They were keeping their passion alive by writing each other "lust letters".

Ms. Rosenberg put pen to paper, so to speak, and discovered that the old saying is true: Our biggest sex organ is our brain.

An orgasm is an orgasm is something more
Ms. Rosenberg experiments with porn and sex toys and in the process, discovers something about herself.

I knew something significant was missing from my life. I didn’t realize how significant until, for the first time in my life, I had the good fortune of achieving a really powerful orgasm. Why did that matter? Not only was it unimaginably pleasurable, it was life affirming. I felt authentic, sexy, and extraordinarily present. Partner or not, I was alive.

An orgasm, as an integral part of the human experience, can be life-affirming.

Final Word
Am I happy that Lynn Brown Rosenberg came out of her shell and discovered herself? Yes. Would I want her life? No. While the book deals with a woman eventually triumphing over her up-bringing, I wince, thinking about her childhood. Holy cow! What horrible parents.

I laud Ms. Rosenberg for her take-charge approach at the age of seventy. It is a reminder that it's never too late.

I'd rather regret the things I've done than regret the things I've not done.
-Anonymous

But I also see it as a warning to us all to take charge now and not wait. We're all influenced by our parents, our religion, our peer group, and our culture. We live in an environment which is still very much the traditional patriarchy, along with misogyny, the Double Standard, sex-shaming, slut-shaming, women as chattel, virginity valued above all else, sex only in marriage and only for procreation, etc. No matter how much we want to escape it, these influences surround us, even at a subliminal level, and affect us psychologically. This is not peace, love, and understanding. And we may not even be aware this is going on. As I'm fond of saying, "Does a goldfish know it's living in a fishbowl?"

Let's all try to follow Lynn Rosenberg: be honest with others, but more importantly, be honest with ourselves. This is what I like, and this is what I want. But unlike Ms. Rosenberg, let's not do this when we're 70, but when we're 50, 40, or even 30. Not tomorrow, but today. Right now.


References

official web site: Lynn Brown Rosenberg
Residing in Los Angeles, Lynn was a musician and composer for several years and is now successful writer. An excerpt from her memoir entitled "My Sexual Awakening at 70" has just been published by Salon.com as well as The Huffington Post. An interview with HuffPost Women is upcoming.

Facebook: Lynn Brown Rosenberg

my blog: Esther Perel: Is this woman on to something? - Mar 12/2013
In long-term relationships, we often expect our beloved to be both best friend and erotic partner. But as Esther Perel argues, good and committed sex draws on two conflicting needs: our need for security and our need for surprise. So how do you sustain desire?

my blog: How old is too old for sex? - Apr 10/2014
A professional photographer captures the mature sexuality of ten 70-year-old women and causes a variety of reactions. Can one be too old for sex? With age, is anything sexual in bad taste? Is being photographed in a suggestive pose empowering for a woman or does it objectify her? And is objectification as in the "object of my desire" always a bad thing?

2019-09-07

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