Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-5wvtr Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-18T21:15:36.453Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

1 - Sex and intimacy in later life: a survey of the terrain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 December 2021

Trish Hafford-Letchfield
Affiliation:
Middlesex University
Paul Simpson
Affiliation:
Edge Hill University, Ormskirk
Paul Reynolds
Affiliation:
Edge Hill University, Ormskirk
Get access

Summary

That time of year thou may’st in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

In me thou see’st the twilight of such day,

As after sunset fadeth in the west,

Which by-and-by black night doth take away,

Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.

In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire

That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,

As the death-bed whereon it must expire

Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.

This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,

To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 73

Shakespeare's Sonnet 73 suggests a recognition of finality, mortality and the changes that ageing brings, with a plea for love (and respect?) from those who are younger, through the certain knowledge that they will miss those who are ageing when they pass, and will experience ageing and its vicissitudes themselves. This is ageing as natural cycle and selfaware progression through the life course. It appeals to naturalised and normalised contours of the process of ageing, which are ‘coloured in’ by cultural representations of how we are seen to age. Older people should ‘grow old gracefully’, both experience and express that ‘slow journey into the twilight of their lives’.

While the sentiment of the sonnet might be regarded as romantic in its appeal to the recognition and acceptance of naturalism and the character of love and respect across generations, it betrays both a naivety and a danger. Its naivety lies in its ‘rose-tinted’ characterisation. Generally, in more economically developed societies, age is more a subject of pathology, prejudice and crude cultural stereotypes – the irrelevant or burdensome rather than the experienced or useful, the decaying rather than the preserved and venerable, the infirm rather than the healthy within the life course, the decrepit or absent-minded rather than the eccentric or the wise. These are real dangers to older people's agency, dignity and (self) respect. Their roles are simultaneously and contradictorily seen as celebrated and wasted, cherished and abandoned, loved and left behind.

Type
Chapter
Information
Sex and Diversity in Later Life
Critical Perspectives
, pp. 1 - 14
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2021

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×