Against the Ugliness of Age: Towards an Erotics of the Aging Sexual Body

Allison Moore and Paul Reynolds

Edge Hill University, Ormskirk



Within the heteronormative construction, older people are positioned as asexual, post-sexual or predatory on young bodies. Ageist assumptions deny their sexual desires exist at all or, if they are acknowledged, frame them within pathological medical, sexological and cultural discourses that characterize older sexual agency as grotesque, ugly, unattractive and sexually undesirable. These normative constructions have a negative impact on older sexual subjectivities. This article begins to develop a constructive representational form – or erotics – of aging sex and sexuality. Queer, as a deconstructionist, anti-foundational and anti-essential perspective, would seem the most prominent means by which to challenge pathologies of the ageing body and ageing sexuality. However, this discussion will suggest that there is both scope and limitations with regards to the ability of Queer critiques to undermine ageist erotophobia. Whilst queer proposes that we are free to construct and reconstruct our sexuality in multiple ways, our changing subjectivities are not just experienced emotionally and intra-psychically but are also bounded by our physicality. Our ageing corporeality prevents a constant and continuous reinvention of the sexual self. This does not preclude an erotics of age that -moves away from genito-centric and heteronormative/ homonormative constructions of sexuality and open up the potential for an erotic aged sex and sexual intimacy.


Keywords: heteronormative; pathology; age; sex; desire; erotics