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In Lust We Trust? Masculinity and Sexual Desire in Later Life
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, Gender Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5235-6111
2016 (English)In: Men and Masculinities, ISSN 1097-184X, E-ISSN 1552-6828, Vol. 19, no 2, 192-208 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Recent years have seen increasing discussions of sexuality in later life. Today, continued sexual activity is gradually understood as a positive and healthy aspect of aging, in contrast to how aging historically was primarily associated with asexuality. Old men’s sexual function, in particular, has been a topic of notable interest to scholars and popular media alike, an interest spurred not least by the market introduction of Viagra and other sexuo-pharmaceuticals. If aging men’s sexual function has been the object of extensive discussion, considerably less attention has been given to the question of sexual desire in later life, neither women’s nor men’s. Old men’s sexual desire is a potentially conflictual field as men are often expected to be sexually willing but the old man who shows continued sexual interest also run the risk of being labeled a “dirty old man.” This article focuses on old men, masculinity, and sexual desire through the interview narratives of Swedish med between sixty-seven and eighty-seven years old. In dialogue with Sara Ahmed’s work on queer phenomenology, the article discusses asserted sexual desire as a form of orientation that shapes old men’s heterosexual subjectivities. The interviewees expressed that sexual desire continued to be an important aspect of later life, but sexual desire was also understood to vanish as one aged. For those who expressed a lack of sexual desire, this was sometimes experienced as a “gender trouble” but was also made sense of in relation to feeling old. All on all, intimacy was a central way of making sense of later life sexuality. The article concludes that narratives on intimacy could be understood as ways of retaining a heterosexual orientation as one ages. Through narratives of intimacy men could express a continued interest in sexuality, but in positive and unthreatening ways that avoided the stigmatization of being a dirty old man.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 19, no 2, 192-208 p.
Keyword [en]
sexuality, masculinity, later life, ageing, desire, sex
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
Gender Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-123372DOI: 10.1177/1097184X15606948ISI: 000378278300004OAI: diva2:873523
Available from: 2015-11-24 Created: 2015-11-24 Last updated: 2016-08-08Bibliographically approved

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