Getting divorced in middle age used to leave many women feeling they had been denied a love-life for ever.
But today’s ‘silver splitters’ have full and active sex lives that were denied to previous generations, an expert says.
Susan Quilliam, who rewrote The Joy Of Sex to celebrate the book’s 40th anniversary, said women can now sleep with whoever they want after their marriage breaks down and not be judged.
The psychologist and sexual relationships expert, who herself has become single at 63 after her 21-year marriage ended, said women no longer fear experimenting with men in bed.
‘In theory, I can, if I so wish, go out and sleep with somebody tonight without opprobrium, without being told I’m a slut,’ she told Cambridge University’s Festival of Ideas.
‘Well, there are some people who will still think I’m a slut, but largely we are lucky. Us women in 2013, we are lucky as no other women before us.
‘We are lucky post Pill and post the Abortion Act to be able to know and decide where, what, who, how and also whether and where to look for sex – and where things are and what to do with them.’
Miss Quilliam, from Cambridge, married her former husband Ian Grove-Stephensen, 56, in 1992. They have no children.
Last year she updated the ground-breaking self-help sex manual The Joy Of Sex by Alex Comfort, to celebrate 40 years since it provoked scandal when it was first published in 1972.
Miss Quilliam said: ‘Compared to our mothers’ and grandmothers’ generations we have more choice.
‘More choice to have a relationship or not. The choice of whether to have a short-term relationship of just a few hours or a long-term one.
‘We can also choose who we partner with. Our grandparents’ generation was firmly told they had to partner with someone of their own class and age.
‘We can choose a partner who is younger or older, people who do not come from the same background or even the same continent.
‘When the original book came out in 1972, women who were over 50 or 60 years old were seen as past it, whereas they are now seen as attractive. We can have full and active sex lives. I know a lot of women over 50 with good sex lives.
‘Women have become more powerful in society and because of this increase in power have been able to set the rules more. Society is more mature and experience in the bedroom is now seen as being just as compelling as being attractive.
‘Older women now know a lot more about our bodies and how to please a man.’ Miss Quilliam said that in the past women who were widowed felt unable to go out and find a new partner, but she said this has changed.
She said: ‘Women do not have to be afraid. They can grab their own life by the scruff of the neck and think, “Let’s do this”. That’s something my mother and grandmother were not able to do.’
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