a publication of the sexuality and aging consortium at widener university

Conference Presenters Speak Up

Throughout the fall, the discussions about sexuality, intimacy and aging that began during the workshops at our 2nd Annual Conference in September have continued. Here are a few impressions from some of the speakers and workshop presenters that were featured this year.

Dennis Dailey was exuberant about being the first to speak at the Conference. “It was such a joy to give the keynote presentation.” he said.  “I was struck by the deep devotion so many participants brought to the notion of sexual health in older persons.”

A similar sense of enthusiasm was reflected in the comments from the other speakers at the conference. After their presentation of “How to Heat Up Your Practice with Intimacy and Menopause Workshops,” Melanie Davis and Judith Hersh reported that participants reported gaining surprising insight into sexual satisfaction in later years. “Women experience many changes in their sexual desire, pleasure and physiology during perimenopause,” Hersh said, “but once their bodies settle into menopause, they may find sexual intimacy more satisfying than at other times in their lives. That was news to many of our participants.”

Participants in Peggy Brick’s presentation on “Sexual Intelligence-A New Vision of Success,” told her that learning about ‘Sexual Intelligence’ would be valuable for their personal lives as well as for their professional work with clients and students.”

Terri Clark said that reaction to “What’s Your BiQ? – Talking about Bisexuality and Aging” reaffirmed her belief that older people who retreat from expressing their sexuality run the risk of becoming invisible. “Visibility is priceless,” she said. “Older folks are presumed to lose both sexual interest and sexual functioning as they age.  They are often perceived as inappropriate, senile, and “dirty” (ie, “dirty old men”) when they express their sexuality.  Differences in sexual orientation are ignored entirely, and bisexual seniors may be driven underground and silenced (this is also true of gay and lesbian seniors).  The pervasive invisibility of bisexuality has given us few or no role models, let alone an identity for who we are.

Ken Haslam was surprised and heartened by the response to his presentation on “Polyamory: New Relationship Models With Advancing Age.” “Given the controversial nature of consensual multi-partnering and how it’s growing,” he commented, “it is something that will be become more common in the future and needs to be addressed.”

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