I haven’t seen the “Heading South” yet, but I just read this Sunday Styles piece about the movie in today’s New York Times. It seems sort of like “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” but with white women doing the travelling and with the exploitation made much more clear.
I’m interested in how people will talk about the film. Will they compare the travels of these women to the sex-tourism travels of men seeking out young girls and boys in Asia? Will the focus of conversation be on the race and age differences? Will it be on the paying for sex or the colonialist undertones? Will they say “you go girl” and cheer on the women who are acknowledging their sexual needs and exercising their autonomy?
Here is what I want to talk about: How difficult for is it for older women in the U.S. to find interesting sex partners in the U.S.? Apparently this film is resonating with older women in the U.S. It certainly does seem like our dominant culture defines older women as less desirable partners for men. Is it coincidence that this film hits a nerve in the same time period as Dateline obsession with online sex predators which always seem to be men looking for underage sex partners? If there are older men seeking sex partners and older women seeking sex partners why are they portrayed as needing to enter into exploitive relationships in order to have sex?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to racial, ethnic, nationality, or age differences and I’m not opposed to vacation sex. I’m not even opposed to paying for (or being paid for) sex. Far from it! But the portrayal here is of a society where people are left with “no choice” but to travel to a place where the local population has even more limited choices. Work should not be coercive whether it is sex work or other work. (That means that many of these resorts are problematic to start with! Recall the situationist slogan “Club Med: A cheap holiday in other people’s misery”)
The women quoted in the Times story all attest to the difficulties older women have finding satisfying sexual relationships. We can’t afford a culture that fetishizes youth to such a degree that men and women “of a certain age” need to leave the country to find satisfying sex with desirable partners. We can’t afford a culture that defines “desirable” so narrowly!
I suppose this is easy for me to say as I have always been attracted to people — men and women both — who are much older than I am. But the cultural point remains. Whether it is easy to shift our attentions or not, it is necessary! So lets start fetishizing experience, strength, and age. Let’s make up new language. Imagine the following personal ad:
“Smart, sexy, mature woman with silver-streaked hair and sense of humor written all over her face. Skills honed by years of experience and experimentation. Seeks adventurous partner to push the envelope. No game-playing .. except in bed!”
Okay, so writing personal ads is not going to be my second job, but doesn’t she sound hot?
One of my favorite pornographic novels, Carol Queen’s The Leather Daddy and the Femme, has a character named Mistress Georgia Strong who is described as having “long and shining black hair streaked white at the temples” and she is written as a character that has such authority, skill and experience that in my imagine, no matter how hard I try to stick to Carol Queen’s description, I convert her hair to a steely silver. And she is a powerfully erotic character, perhaps the one in the book I am most attracted to. If you haven’t read the book yet, believe me, you would not pass up a chance to offer yourself to Georgia Strong!
So, let’s get out there and make images of older sexy women (and men). It’s one thing to finally depict older women as having sexual needs and desires, as possessors of lust and passion. Now let’s paint them as objects of lust and passion!