69 love sex senior

69 Love Sex Senior

69 love sex seniorNone of us wants to think about our grandparents “doing it”. We pretend to ourselves that at a certain age, people lose interest in sex. We keep it in the realm of the young – those with firm bodies, unbridled passions and, well… flexibility.

In 69 Love Sex Senior, filmmaker Menna Laura Meijer not only challenges our denial of older people as sexual beings but also explores their broad variety of sexual and romantic experiences. She shows that sex and love continue into older years in just as many different forms as we see amongst the young. Together with her wonderfully warm and entertaining selection of older people she explores a broad spectrum of experiences and expectations.

During the course of the film, we meet Atie and Kees, inseparable, in love and still excited by each other after 60 years together. Hans, a bi-sexual man who after a lifetime of promiscuity discovers the joy of love with 50 year old Xander, proclaiming that it has him “blowing trumpets”. Wietske describes the intensity of the love between her and her now senile husband, as she seeks comfort from her boyfriend, a recent widower trying to fill the void left by his wife.  Gerard and Addy, in their early 70’s, reconnect to enjoy the passion they’d momentarily tasted during an experimental partner swap in 1968.

Every story has its own insights, its own warmth. Although confronting at times (there are sex scenes included), Meijer’s slow, quiet approach to story-telling allows time to breathe in the various snippets of her subjects very personal lives, to absorb them and be warmed by them. It is a slow-paced film but it feels right – it feels like it moves at the pace of those telling their stories.

For anyone who has ever thought that love was for the young, this is a heartwarming film that will convince you there is plenty of reason to hope for a passionate third age.

69 Love Sex Senior is showing as part of the Human Rights Film Festival.


Australian Premiere

When: Tuesday 20 May, 8:45pm

Where: Australian Centre for the Moving Image

Price: Full $18 | Conc $16 | Group (6+) $14 (group booking via phone only)

HOME: An unusual arts project about ageing

My name is Brienna Macnish and I’m twenty-five. For the past twelve months I have been interviewing older people about their experiences of ageing as part of an arts project called HOME. I’ve heard lots of different stories, some uplifting, some deeply sad and have been struck time and time again by the generosity with which people have shared their stories with me.

HOME is the result of my interviewing. It is an audio work, experienced by one person at a time inside the home of a stranger.  Individually, audience members walk through a home, exploring and listening to a very personal and moving account of one woman’s experience of the years passing.

What makes this work special is that the woman, Marian, whom the work is about, is not exceptional or extraordinary. Her story is recognisable and the story of many Australians. What is extraordinary is her willingness to share her very personal experiences with me, and through the recordings I made, with you.

MY hope is that the HOME will encourage older and younger people alike to think about what ageing means both to themselves and to the Australian community more broadly.

HOME is ran as part of the prestigious Next Wave Festival 2014. For more information visit www.stepintomyhome.com

Wanted: A Wonderful Word For Us

I am searching for a word. No dementia jokes please. A word: glamorous, rich, evocative, that we can appropriate to give old age a better tint. Just as Gays did, and forever improved the image and the language. We need something to distinguish us, for example, as the last generation that experienced life in the home without computers, while being the generation that helped the invention to reach its present sophisticated state.

The man who invented the mouse, Douglas Engelbart, died only last year at the age of 88. I wonder if, in his later years, any patronising young git asked him if he knew what a mouse was.

I was thrilled to see that my generation’s intimacy and expertise with computers were recognised by The Guardian UK in December when it asked actor Sheila Hancock, aged 80, to give advice on online privacy and security. She brought to bear on the subject of privacy her earlier life experience: “I grew up in a generation where we kept things private, where a letter was a lovely little very private thing that arrived. Suddenly we can send messages that could misfire, that anybody can see.

My grandchildren have a completely different attitude to privacy, but I feel I have to assume that everybody can see what I am doing on the web.” (“Spot on,” said the security expert who worked with The Guardian on the Snowden stories. )

Is there a word that describes people with this sort of applied, hands-on knowledge of life – all aspects of life – who happen to be 80-ish? Who are live wires, contributors to life and the gaiety, song and dance of it? Elderly will not do.

‘Elderly’ has a shakiness about it, don’t you think? As though the frail person thus described might expire if the word ‘old’ were used to her or his face. I use it to get the electricity back on or the phone fixed. That is, when I am not in actual view. But I couldn’t use it face-to-face. I would find it impossible to talk face-to-face with someone whom I knew thought I was elderly. When the word ‘frail’ came up in a discussion about one of my bones, I made the rheumatologist erase it from his Dictaphone-thingy. He obliged. Good chap.

‘Senior’ is in wide use; very popular in public service sort of communications. It seems to confer some privilege, but we know it doesn’t. It makes me feel like a Girl Guide, responsible but not powerful or glam.

“Oldster” is terrible. Don’t even go there. Makes me feel I should have four wheels. ‘Ageing’ is ridiculous. As though we all aren’t. It does have a certain levelling quality though. Like hats that make everyone look middle aged. Except those saucers that women fashionably wear to the races or royal weddings. They make women look demented. We don’t want that association. Ageing is used for people who are old, but its connotation is ‘actively crumbling’. It will not do.

‘Old’ is okay: Old English, but no glamour. Even old objects have to be called ‘antiques’ to become interesting. Perhaps it could acquire jollier associations in its archaic form ‘olden.’ Would I mind being an olden if the image were brushed up a bit? Olden has some mystery to it. Elder is not bad, but it has a hierarchical ring.

There is work to be done here. Some good spinning: quite useful if it makes us feel valued and takes account of our wisdom and all-round attractiveness. It will come.

Meanwhile I take enormous satisfaction from the SA government’s decision to abandon annual compulsory medical tests for drivers aged 70 and over. Victoria, which doesn’t have age-based testing, helped to show SA the way. There was no evidence that such tests lowered crash rates. They just made us feel bad.

I liked what Health and Ageing Minister Jack Snelling had to say, no doubt advised by some oldens (getting to like it better?) and elders: “People are living longer and fuller lives and we need to have more relevant policies that do not discriminate by age and support our older population.”

So there. When I was young we would have added for the benefit of those who say bad things about olden/senior/drivers: “Put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

These days we know that even put-downs shouldn’t be smoked. But it’s an excellent blow to discrimination. All the ‘buts’ have been considered and chased out the door. Old people, call them what you like, are as responsible as any in the community. And when we find the proper word for us, it will be evident to all. Perhaps ‘majority’?

Just joking. Oldens do that.


Authors details:


Written by Shirley Stott Despoja. Reproduced with Shirley’s permission. The column was first published  in the Adelaide Review.

Shirley’s Third Age columns appear in  The Adelaide Review and The Melbourne Review each month.




laughing couple

The beauty of age

laughing coupleWorking in marketing and communications in the not-for-profit sector, I have am always considerate of how people are portrayed in both words and images. How we represent people to the rest of the community can have a really big impact on how that particular group of people, whether it is people experiencing homelessness, people with disabilities, people of different ethnicities or older people, are perceived by the general community. That perception in turn drives how those people are treated in society.

Today I’ve been trying to set up a photo library specifically images of older people. I buy photos from a stock library so they are taken by different photographers from all around the world. Most of the photographers are taking the photos they think people will want to buy so they have a commercial purpose in mind, which tends to play up stereotypes even more than usual.

As I scan through literally thousands of images, our stereotypes of older people are evident –

• Older people drink tea and do lots of gardening

• Older people live in nursing homes and spend a lot of time with doctors and nurses

• Older people find technology difficult to understand and need younger people to help them with it

• Younger people, when interacting with older people, always take the leading role – and often feel it is necessary to lean over the older person or pat their arm

• Older couples are always heterosexual (although never actually sexual)

My list could go on forever…

And while I think it is important that we challenge these stereotypes and make an effort to represent a broader picture of older people, there was something else I learned today that I felt was even more important.

You see, as I looked at thousands of old faces, all I could see was incredible beauty. I didn’t expect this – I am willing to accept that as we get older wrinkles, grey hair and changes to our body shape are inevitable but I also generally accepted that beauty was for the young. We are surrounded every day by young models – even the older people in the funeral plan and incontinence commercials on television aren’t really that old. Our acceptable version of an older person is usually someone barely at retirement age -someone with more than a third of their life still ahead of them!

Spending hours looking closely at the faces of a huge variety of people, of different nationalities and genders, aged from around 55 to 80, I feel robbed by the limited portrayal of beauty our society has accepted. Perhaps we wouldn’t all be quite so scared of growing older if we saw more older people every day. Perhaps we would accept our own wrinkles and grey hair much more easily if we had the chance to see how beautiful they look on someone else.

If advertising is supposed to use aspirational visions to get us to buy stuff, why aren’t they showing us how beautiful it is to grow old?


Written by Jacqueline O’Donnell

Founder, Just Good Marketing