Special Issue Articles

Sexuality Research and Social Policy Journal of NSRC

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 13-24

From sexism to sexy: Challenging young adults’ ageism about older women’s sexuality

  • Katherine R. AllenAffiliated withDepartment of Human Development, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Email author 
  • , Karen A. RobertoAffiliated withCenter for Gerontology and Institute for University Email author 

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This article reports on a study that explored young adults’ perceptions of sexual expression among older women in the context of confronting ageism and sexism from a feminist perspective. Deirdre Fishel’s educational film about aging and sexuality,Still Doing It: The Intimate Lives of Women Over 65, was shown to 277 undergraduate students (82 male and 1 95 female) enrolled in a global issues human sexuality course. Data consisted of students’ narrative responses to 6 reflexive questions. Using grounded theory methodology, the analysis revealed 4 key themes organized around the following topics: (a) how young adults perceive older women’s sexuality, (b) perceptions about ageism and sexism, (c) students’ comfort level with discussing aging women’s sexuality, and (d) life lessons: learning from older women. The authors discuss implications for education and practice.

Key words

aging women educational film college students feminism grounded theory