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Author Q&A with Dr Pamela Stephenson-Connolly author of Sex Life

1) What prompted you to write this book?

Rather than writing a ‘how to’ book, I actually wanted to tell the story of people’s sex lives from cradle to grave through the testimonies of a variety of different people who lived through each decade. They have been remarkably frank about their sexuality and I think that illustrates the sexual journey far better than if I had tried to describe it as a sexologist.

2. What was the most fascinating piece of information you came across in your research?

Honestly, each and every single testimony was utterly fascinating, and contributed to overwhelming evidence that we are sexual beings from even before we are born til the day we die.

3. When you were interviewing people, did you notice a pattern in the different ages and their openness and sexual stories?

Human sexuality is created via a myriad of influences, including our family experiences, our society, religion, education, physical state, psychology, sexual orientation, gender, body image, health, race and ethnicity, the messages we have received about sex from media and other sources, and all earlier sexual experiences. Significant life events – such as becoming a parent, being bereaved, or getting a new job – can fundamentally change a person’s sexual path. I was lucky enough to find adults of all ages – even those in their ninth decade – who were able to be open about their sexuality.

4. What do you hope readers will take away from the book?

I hope it will be clear that there is a rich tapestry of normative human sexual styles, and that we should avoid being judgmental about the sex lives of either ourselves or others – including those of older adults.

In the conclusion I have written that I believe our best option is to try to understand our own individual sexuality, to be accepting of who we are as sexual beings, and to seek and allow ourselves sexual pleasure in safe, sane and consensual ways. If we so wish – no matter how old we become – continuing to enjoy sexuality will enhance our quality of life. Highly pleasurable sex is not only for the young, the able, or the healthy among us. It is part of who we are for as long as we live.

5. Your career has taken you across continents and hemispheres – living in Australia, the UK and America, have you noticed a difference in sexual openness?

Openness towards sexuality varies more in terms of various groups or communities within those countries, rather than from country to country. Each nation has its pockets of people with more liberal or less liberal views about sex, often fuelled by religious ideation. Sexuality generally seems to be fairly similar among similar people in all three of those countries.