This week a rather lovely and polite person from a TV agency asked me to promote a casting call for a new sex programme. It sounds like exactly the sort of sex-based reality TV that I enjoy watching, although the jury is out on whether it will be an enjoyable watch or a troubling one. Anyone who’s played Bad Sex Media Bingo with documentaries on porn will know that the media doesn’t always deal with sex in a sensible way.
Still, some do, and I have no issue in principle with posting a casting call, just in case any of you perverts would like to get on telly for a bit. However, I do have an issue with this one in particular. Can you spot why?
Sex at different ages
If you said ‘the age limit’ then you’d be absolutely correct. Of course, as a show that is about sex, the range has to begin at 18. But why have an upper age limit of 35?
Full disclosure: I’m 30. I have no personal experience of sex over the age of 35. For all I know it might be the case that, upon hitting that magical birthday, I suddenly lose all interest in any kind of sexual activity. Wanking goes out of the window, oral gets ousted, and fucking fucks utterly and irretrievably off. Maybe the instant rejection of all things sex at the age of 35 was the driving force behind Kirstie Allsopp’s recent comments that women should have babies much earlier in life. Maybe there is a whole new genre of life that I had previously not imagined: the Dry Years. After fucking oneself raw as a youngster, the more mature adult puts sex to one side, and begins filling their time with visits to garden centres and discussion on house prices instead.
I fucking doubt it though.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the idea that older people cannot have and enjoy sex is bollocks. What’s more, the idea that the sexual cutoff point would be as ridiculously low as thirty-fucking-five is phenomenal. Your genitals don’t fall off when you hit 36, and nor do you suddenly change your attitude towards something that fundamental.
Older people in sex programmes on TV
I asked the person who contacted me what possible reason there could be for such a low cut-off point (or, indeed, why there was a need to have any upper age limit at all). She didn’t know, and to be fair I am guessing it wasn’t her decision to limit things, so I said I’d post the call (see above – voila!) but also that I’d call attention to the fact that the age limit on this was incredibly restrictive.
Look: I know that TV companies often equate youth with beauty and sexiness. The idea of deliberately seeking out older people to be on a TV programme about sex probably has producers screeching with terror. But older people do have sex. Older people can be sexual. As someone for whom the vast majority of my crushes are on men who are well over the age of forty, and as a woman who is constantly reminded that to wrinkle is to fail, I utterly despair at the thought of a programme about sex being artificially limited to exclude a huge proportion of the sexually active population.
TV sex programmes that don’t limit based on age
I have also had contact recently from the company that makes ‘Sex sent me to the ER’. Their casting call is below.
Can you see an age limit there? I can’t. Although in the email exchange the casting producer told me they were looking for couples ‘aged 20-50’, on the ad itself there are no limits. You know what that means? It means they may well get applications from people aged over 50, and I suspect that if their story is interesting then the number of birthdays they’ve had will be deemed irrelevant. As it should be in these situations.
When I am old…
I understand that as we age we change – we might be less interested in sex, just as we might be less interested in clubbing. Moreover there will be some people under the age of thirty five who are wholly disinterested in doing things with their genitals, and have much more fun doing other things. But none of this is necessarily the case for all couples. There are plenty of older people (and yet again I smash my head onto the keyboard at having to include people in their late thirties as ‘older people’) who are sexually active. Personally, in five years time I plan on being one of them. When I am an old woman I shall wear purple thigh-high socks and a black velvet strap-on belt. I will tie my partner to the bed by the ankles and ride his dick with just as much joie de vivre as I did last night. I shall wank on the sofa in the lounge and lick my fingers afterwards.
What’s more, it may well be the case that there are people who feel uncomfortable about older sex, or disgusted by it, who wouldn’t be so if so much of the media didn’t insist on painting older people right out of the picture as soon as sex comes into play. So much of our view on sex is dictated by what society tells us is and isn’t OK. What is and isn’t erotic. What is and isn’t beautiful. Those who portray sex on TV – especially on reality shows – have an opportunity to make things as ‘real’ as possible.
I’m sad that in this case they haven’t taken it.