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

Special Issue Articles

DOI: 10.1525/srsp.2009.6.4.13

Cite this article as:
Allen, K.R. & Roberto, K.A. Sex Res Soc Policy (2009) 6: 13. doi:10.1525/srsp.2009.6.4.13


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 

Copyright information

© Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human DevelopmentVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburg
  2. 2.Center for Gerontology and Institute for UniversityBlacksburg

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