After a youth spent turning over the ancient laws of God and man, a middle age making money on the stock market and staying fit and saving the whales while aborting their inconvenient children, and chasing the visage of age by using botox and viagra, the cultural leaders of the yuppie generation is now trying to rewrite the meaning of old age.
So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Jane Fonda is looking to make a film about elderly sexuality.

I’d like to make “a film about eroticism and ageing – a sexy, sensual film about older women,” Fonda was quoted as saying in the German weekly Die Zeit.

Umm…isn’t this the lady who found Jesus after Ted Turner threw her out? Well, never mind. I’ll place her on my prayer list, right below the name of Peter Hitchens.

In many way it’s sad.

It’s not that elders don’t have sexual relations with those they love. The problem is that instead of the comforting and comfortable expression of love between spouses who have lived together, and often supported each other through suffering, death, and failure, we will get a typical Hollywood version of “sex”, sensual and devoid of anything but physiology and a grotesque mimicry of seventeen year olds in heat.
What is missing is the depth of emotions in the aging. What is missing is the concept of the wisdom of age.

Ironically, last weekend’s NYTimes had an article that noted the evolutionay importance of grandmothers. 

The research is the basis for the grandmother hypothesis that may help explain why menopause occurs. The basic idea is that an end to a woman’s reproductive years allows her to channel her energy and resources into caring for her children and grandchildren, thereby providing her descendants with a survival advantage…

Yet as one who has worked as a doctor in many traditional cultures, including those of family oriented American families, such a “scientific” proclamation is equivalent to reinventing the wheel.

The superficial observation is that of independent elderly, until sickness and old age places them in a nursing home.

In reality, it is much different. The majority of elderly people in the US are cared for in the community because family and neighbors assist them in things that they can no longer do by themselves.

But grandparents are also caretakers for the extended family, often raising their grandchildren or relative’s children when parents cannot care for the children due to drug use or marriage breakdown. 

In traditional societies this is the norm.

Without a state socialism, it is the family who cares for each other and often it is the grandmother who is the center of this large extended family, giving advice, caring for the sick, and teaching her daughters and daughter in laws how to care for house and home.

Imagine Jane Fonda in a film about such a woman…nah. Maybe such films would be made twenty years ago, but there are few such films being made nowadays. Guess it’s easier to film car crashes and write about serial killers than about women who feel self sacrifice and caring for others is more important than being self fulfilled and sexy at age 70.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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