When I was in my 20s I thought I’d be done having sex by now. It wasn’t that I necessarily knew I wouldn’t want sex anymore, but the thought that any man would want to have sex with Old-Lady Chloe was unthinkable.

I learned at an early age that young women are sexy, and old women aren’t. All of my father’s porn informed my nine-year-old self that men only want to have sex with young women.

Because old women having sex is gross. Everybody knows that.

Don’t get me wrong. Old men having sex is considered gross in our culture, too. But the cutoff age for men being old and gross, and the age when a woman is too gross for sex, are literally decades apart.

Sean Connery can be almost 60 and voted People’s Sexiest Man Alive. The oldest woman ever to be voted Sexiest Woman was Halie Berry at 42. Sean Connery looks good, but he looks like a man approaching 60 while Halie Berry could pass for 25.


The message is clear: Women can stay sexy. That is, as long as they don’t age. Commit the crime of aging, and your sexy days are over, baby.

Who were my old lady sex role models?

As a child, everywhere I looked confirmed the cultural message that older women still interested in sex were pathetic.

A sadder sack there never was than Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company. At least once in every episode she floated in, wearing her garish caftans, trying to get Mr. Roper to give her a little sumpin’ sumpin’.

Trigger the canned laughter.

The joke wasn’t that Mr. Roper was impotent (or a closet homoesexual). No, the joke was on Mrs. Roper for not taking the hint that she just wasn’t fuckable anymore.

Mr. and Mrs. Roper

It is funny how differently men and women perceive things. Anthony Giffen  on his tumblr blog writes that his takeaway from Three’s Company is that it is the man’s job to please a woman in bed, but that women can never be satisfied.

Anthony got me all boo-hooing about the intense pressure on men to perform sexually, that is up until he concludes that the real problem is that Mrs. Roper is unfuckable anyway.

Mr. and Mrs. Roper1How often did I see that look of disgust on Mr. Roper’s face—and the faces of the young 20-somethings of Three’s Company–when a horny (and unfuckable) Mrs. Roper expressed her needs for a little luvin’?

We were all in on the joke. Except Mrs. Roper. She didn’t realize that her sexy days were over and she was just a punch line in a caftan.

And then there was Mrs. Robinson. Poor Mrs. Robinson. If there was a sadder sack than Mrs. Roper, it’s Mrs. Robinson.

Anne Bancroft was only 36 years old(!) when she played the seductive Mrs. Robinson.


Mrs. Robinson is an aging woman teetering over the edge of her sexual prime. It is hard to remember that 40 used to be the tipping point to old. Now it is 60. Okay, maybe it’s 50. I’m not sure. I think old is always 10 years older than you are right now.

The aging Mrs. Robinson (only 36 years old!) is sexy while seducing Benjamin Braddock, a boy half her age, but in the end Benjamin dumps her for the prettier–but more to the point–younger Elaine.

Mrs. Robinson stands as a lesson to all cougars women that maybe you can be sexy as you age (only 36 years old!) and get the hot, sexy guy, but you’d better face the painful fact that eventually he will dump you over for a younger model. A lesson poor Demi Moore had to learn the hard way.

Old Women Aren’t Sexy

Frances Bavier, who played Aunt Bea, was 58 at the start of The Andy Griffith Show. She was only eight older than I am now, and one year younger than Sean Connery when he was his sexiest. We all know that Aunt Bea never had sex. Ever.

Miss Kitty surely never got laid.

I didn’t figure out until I was grown that Miss Kitty was a prostitute. A virgin prostitute who never got laid. Miss Kitty was 45 years old when Gunsmoke ended. She looks much older than 45 to me.


Bea Author is the first woman of a certain age I remember having a good sex life. But she doesn’t count because she wore that strange scarf all of the time, and there were rampant rumors that she was actually a man.

Rue McClanahan from Golden Girls is the first senior citizen sex kitten. Sure there was a joke to it, but at least Rue was in on it, and laughing all the way to her multiple orgasms.


Thank you, Rue. I didn’t appreciate all you’ve done for aging women everywhere until now.

Barbie: Aginggracefullybarbie by madelineyoki’s photostream

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Curlieq55 August 28, 2016 at 9:37 pm

I’m 60, my boyfriend/partner of ten years is 45. He’s always preferred older women. He’s constantly trying to seduce me. In fact, he’s the one who suggested I read your post on post-menopausal sex.
I personally don’t think (most) men are sexy till they reach 40. Zach Efron is cute (as was Brad Pitt). But sexy? Wait till 40. Women? Check out MORE Magazine for truly sexy women.
We may look older, but we still feel young. I recently heard Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song”. 45 years melted away.


Anthony Giffen October 3, 2012 at 7:43 am

Thanks for taking the time to read my post and referencing it as part of your very thoughtful and well written piece. My site is primarily humor based but I do dive into cultural observation on occasion. I try to balance satire and seriousness and sometimes I’m more successful than other times. Rereading my post after reading yours, I regret the “unfuckable” line. In the rhythm of the piece I think I was going for a cathartic, angry over the top vent on behalf of Stanley at that point. I don’t think it reads as funny. It just sounds ageist, superficial and mean.

Thank you for all that you do and for helping me to think about things a little differently as I write posts where I’m trying to do more than go for a laugh.



Chloe Jeffreys October 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Hey Anthony! I’m happy you found me and my post. I’m not familiar with tumblr and couldn’t figure out how to contact you prior to publishing this piece. I hope you got some traffic out of it.

Honestly, I saw you were being satirical. And you made me stop and ponder my thesis for a moment. Stanley was a sorry sort, wasn’t he? I do feel badly for him as well. As I look back at the show now from this vantage point I see that both of them were trapped in a terrible show that was designed to make long-time married sex look non-existent (if not downright disgusting) and the hip, single life look sexy and desirable.

Anyway, I appreciate you stopping by and being so gracious about it. I was so grateful because your post did end up making me feel that my impressions weren’t that far off. I do agree that there is a lot of pressure on men to perform. And it also sucks as a woman when you reach the age of unfuckability.


Jack@TheJackB September 28, 2012 at 11:08 pm

FWIW, some years back I told my girlfriend that when we were 85 I would do my best not to break her hip during rough sex. She thought it was great and told me she hoped I could still bring it like that.

Maybe I’ll call her in 50 years and ask if she is still interested in finding out. 😉

Life does a good job of forcing us to re-evaluate our thoughts.
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BigLittleWolf September 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Miss Kitty was a prostitute???

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Chloe September 27, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Yes, Virginia, Miss Kitty was a ho.
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Ann Dunnewold September 25, 2012 at 11:38 am

I heard recently a great new way to think about sex “later in life.” (And as you imply, Chloe, who knows what defines “later” these days.)

Anyway, sex is like decorating. We yearn for the hot, wall-slamming sex of our 20s. But do you ever yearn to have orange shag rugs and board-and-cinder-block bookshelves? It’s okay for the style of sex to evolve over time.

Love the post.
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Chloe September 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm

The funny thing is that I now realize that the sex I was having in my 20s wasn’t really worth very much. The sex I have now is where it’s at.

Hey! Maybe it’s not that old people aren’t sexy, but that they’re hiding just how good the sex is. Hmmmmm.
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Brenda September 24, 2012 at 9:08 am

I’m NOT old yet at only 40 but I’m finding myself not really caring about media driven role models anymore.

Chloe and Maddie are who I go to for inspiration. 🙂


Chloe Jeffreys September 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I hope that it does help to have some women further along reassuring you that there is nothing to fear. All the messages you might have received about aging and sexuality aren’t necessarily true. Like most of the messages sold to us by Madison Avenue (do they even call advertisers that anymore?) their purpose is to fill us with self-doubt and insecurity so we’ll buy stuff. Sex does not end at 50, and the truth is that with the right partner you will have the best sex of your life. I promise.


Anne September 24, 2012 at 8:05 am

I made my husband promise we would die in bed together at 90 right after vigorous, mutually satisfying sex.

48 years to go!
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Chloe Jeffreys September 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Wouldn’t that be the best way to go?


Janie Emaus September 24, 2012 at 7:51 am

My 87 year old mother was having some kind of sex with my dad up until last year. It different, but it’s still satisfying. Those are her words!


Chloe Jeffreys September 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Jeff and I had an older couple in their 80s mentor us many years ago. They were madly in love with each other and still having sex. They were the first people in my life who taught me that old people sex is beautiful, not gross. And any of us will be lucky to have it.


Liza Lee September 24, 2012 at 7:37 am

I think I’m sexier in my 50s than I was in my 40s when I was in a bad marriage and exhausted from raising a bunch of kids. Of course my dad still finds my mom sexy and they are old by anyone’s definition, so I have great role models there.

It’s funny that you wrote about The Graduate. I watched it again just a few days ago. I find it SHOCKING that Anne Bancroft played Mrs. Robinson at age 36. Dustin Hoffman was 30 at the time!


Chloe Jeffreys September 24, 2012 at 8:16 pm

The fact that he was 30 makes it all the worse!

A crappy marriage is bound to rob anyone of the mojo. I also feel sexier now than I did when I turned 40. I totally didn’t expect this, but it is a wonderful gift.


Debi Drecksler September 24, 2012 at 7:31 am

Someone forgot to tell my husband that I’m not 25 anymore. I hope he doesn’t figure it out until I’m 90 or so…p.s. Wonderful blog. Loved the pictures!


Chloe Jeffreys September 24, 2012 at 8:17 pm

I won’t tell him if you won’t tell mine. I wonder if 50 year old me are just grateful for whatever they get. Younger men are often quite selfish, while older men have learned some patience and that sex isn’t all about them. I think it is a wonderful improvement.


Walker September 24, 2012 at 7:30 am

I hadn’t really thought about my youthful impressions… I was pretty much clueless about sexual desire for a number of years. And, now as a 58 year old I write about it and have a damned hot (if I do say so) sex life!
And as today’s post shows, I write about sex for our age group frequently.
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Chloe Jeffreys September 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm

I’m so glad to find you! Heading over to see your blog right now.


Susan September 24, 2012 at 7:02 am

Chloe, this is a great piece! I often think about how influenced I have been by the media I watched while growing up. I remember thinking that women weren’t funny. I even recall laying in bed as a child, wishing I could be funny but knowing that even if I was, no one would appreciate me for it. I wonder what other things we, as women, grew up thinking we couldn’t do because we were female. And ironically, we grew up at a time when everything was changing in regard to how the world viewed us. Maybe as boomers we were still at the tail end of that kind of empowerment.


Chloe Jeffreys September 24, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Isn’t it weird that we were raised to think women are funny when Lucille Ball was the funniest person on TV? And Carol Burnett? I never laughed so hard in my life as I did over that Gone with the Wind skit she did on her show. And what about Phillis Diller?

Now you are making me wonder about other areas I compromised on because I’m female. I’m going to be thinking about that one for awhile.


Ginger Kay September 24, 2012 at 9:04 pm

That GWTW skit was the funniest thing I’d ever seen. I loved the Carol Burnett Show!
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Ginger Kay September 24, 2012 at 6:54 am

Wow, Chloe, you have made me so happy that I was a clueless child!

I thought the joke was that Mr. Roper was not manly and virile, and I thought Miss Kitty had switched to being a madam now that she owned the successful saloon. I saw that as an upward career move. Obviously Matt Dillon had a thing for her, so she still had it in spades.
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Chloe Jeffreys September 24, 2012 at 8:28 pm

I definitely think that Mrs. Roper did not use the right approach with Mr. Roper and that she was often emasculating in her words and her actions. Honestly, that part of the show never made me laugh.

I guess Miss Kitty was the Madame, which is a promotion, of sorts. I think it is funny that nobody ever really acknowledged that she ran a whorehouse. It was the 50s and 60s, I suppose. Even whores were pure then.


Ginger Kay September 24, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I kept thinking about this all day, Chloe. I realized that the childhood images I had of “older” women were very different than yours. Mine were from movies, too, but they were different movies. Of course, my definition of “older” was younger than it is now, but, still, I saw images of beautiful, beautiful mature women in the movies I watched, not asexual or undesirable creatures to be pitied or mocked. (I saw the pitiful sort, too, but they were not the ones that easily sprung to my mind.)
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Maddie Kertay September 24, 2012 at 6:53 am

Oh!.. I have so much to say.. look for my reply in a blog post over at 1hotmarriage.. such good thoughts!!
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Chloe Jeffreys September 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm

I loved what you wrote, Maddie. I’m going to link it here to make it easy for people to find: 40 and still fuckable.


Sharon Greenthal (@sharongreenthal) September 24, 2012 at 6:43 am

My grandmother was sexy as hell at 60, and a great role model for me. I agree the caricatures of old ladies in the media are demeaning and insulting, but “Hope Springs” was a great story about old lady sex that inspired me – there’s hope for us old ladies yet! I certainly don’t consider myself too old for sex – having a husband who still finds me attractive and sexy is a huge boost for my self-image.
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Chloe Jeffreys September 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm

You are so lucky, Sharon. My grandmother was old at 44. As far as I know, she never had sex after her husband left her when she was in her mid-30s.

I’m so thankful for my husband. He makes me believe I’m sexy every day of the year. When I see myself through his eyes I feel like I’ve hardly aged at all.


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