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Seeking Worthy Erotica

by Dr. Barb DePree MD

As a general rule, women over 40 need more stimulation to become aroused enough for good sex. When we were young, just thinking about making love with our partners may have been enough to arouse us physically, but as we grow older, as sex hormones decrease and distractions build, it takes more. But not too much more. For some of us, reading a steamy novel will do it. For others, visual stimulation works better. A hot movie, for instance.

Ever since I first conceived of MiddlesexMD, one of my goals has been to gather a tasteful collection of erotica, visual and verbal art that will stimulate arousal in older women. All we had to do is find it, right? How hard could that be?

None of us at MiddlesexMD had really explored the world of erotic art. So we set our product buyer to work, buying up a sampling of the “state of the art,” beginning with films. She studied and chose a good selection, from how-to films to soft-boiled, story-centered erotic movies. We chose films targeted at women. And films targeted at older women. As the DVDs piled up in our product room, we decided to take an analytical approach to our selection.

Sort of analytical. We each invited a few girlfriends over for glass of wine, a viewing and a discussion.

Our goal was to review these films to gather criteria and characteristics of films that most appealed to our friends — some way to inform our buying choices for the store.  Which would they use? Which would they recommend to their friends or watch with their partners? How would they rate them? What, specifically did they like about each? We had our notepads and our pens poised. We had poured the wine, curled up in front of the TV…

And then, showtime!

One film after another… fell flat on its face. We couldn’t watch more than a minute or two of any of them without reaching for the eject button. There was no analysis, no rating, no pulling apart criteria. We all… hated everything about all of them.

And we were disappointed. Really? Does it all really have to be so awful? We began again, discussing scenes in mainstream movies that we love, that work for us.  We could easily name dozens of scenes that made us blush just recalling them. Scenes from the English Patient, Room with a View, Breathless, Nine and a Half Weeks, Body Heat, The Piano, Atonement, Shakespeare in Love, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, The Godfather, Sweetland, The Graduate, Under the Tuscan Sun, Thief of Hearts, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Moonstruck, anything with Daniel Craig in it. We exausted ourselves thinking of the scenes.

And what characteristics did these movies and scenes have that mattered to us? The story is important, the emotions feel real. There is a buildup of passion, tension, and release. The woman’s seduction receives detailed attention. In short, there is romance.

What we didn’t like? Explicit sex. Mechanics. We really enjoy using our imaginations to fill in, and are perfectly happy with closeups of rapt faces.

We learned a lot from each other that night. We learned, too, that among our friends, at least, we’d all rather read a good sex scene than watch one. So now we’re looking for really good erotica to offer in our store.

How about you? Have you found tried-and-true erotica that works for you? What do you like about it? Have you failed to find anything? What is it about the works you’ve tried that doesn’t work for you?


  • Porn made me feel like a peeping Tom, which was NOT a turn-on. It also inspired concern for the people involved and their sick lives, wondering whether they’re doing it for drug money or why else they’d be so desperate. I can’t imagine they’re actually enjoying it. Play-acting sex must wreck their real sex life, not to mention their love life! After all, who would want their lover to do it for money in front of everybody with somebody else? Ick.

    Erotica can be titillating, but I’d rather not fill my mind with images of other people having sex. It’s something wonderful that’s just between my husband and me and I don’t want anyone else “in the room” with us.

    For me, the most arousing thing is when I spend time reflecting on how special my husband is and why I am so blessed to have him in my life. I find that when I spend an evening with a group of women friends, all the rest of whom are either unhappily married, separated, divorced, or always single, I inevitably go home grateful for my loving husband and anxious to see him. Needless to say, he never has a problem with me hanging out with them!

    Jane on

  • There are two books that always work for me. One I consider erotica, and I’m a bit embarrassed by the fact that I’ve read it many times. It’s “The Insiders” by Rosemary Rogers. It’s naughty and immoral, but there’s something about the characters … and they do develop and change … and it’s, well, hot.

    The other book is somewhat tamer, and contains much romance and memorable characters in addition to the great sex scenes: “Til We Meet Again” by Judith Krantz.

    My worst experience with erotica was finding a British book of erotica at the local food and clothing pantry and taking it home to peruse. It was very Benny Hill meets horny Euro tarts.

    Reka on

  • A movie that works for me is the beautifully shot “Lust, Caution.” Like the writers here have expressed, porn and strictly mechanical sex scenes fall flat. First of all, I much prefer reading a scene in a book in which I’m fully invested in the characters that works its way up to a sexual situation. But equally erotic are those little moments when characters, on TV, in film, and in books, are washing dishes together and their shoulders brush. If there’s (italics) something between them (end italics), just the smallest look or touch will suffice and be a turn-on. It’s personal preference which characters work for any of us. I have mentioned at this site that the eye contact between the characters of House and his underling, Cameron, in the first three seasons of House, M.D., are the equivalent to using a vibrator for me. All they have to do is hold each others glance. Eye!sex. I recommend, if you are a fan of a TV show or movie where two characters ‘do it’ for you, that you try reading (or writing) Fan Fiction at There’s both wretched and inspired writing to be found there.

    I am actively looking for erotica in the form of fiction that isn’t just two random (and ‘randy’) people f—king for the sake of f—king, and I would love recommendations. I also want to state that one good kiss goes much further than a stupid sex scene, especially those annoying, choreographed scenes set to crap music like in “Top Gun.” A great movie kiss is found in “My Brilliant Career.”

    I hope this site recommends print erotica.

    Reka on

  • How refreshing to read this! I’m much more stimulated by a well-crafted, erotic (but not nasty) story with plot, emotions, and character development than with an erotic movie.

    I’ve tried to watch porn, and it just doesn’t do it for me. Seduction is important, eye contact, gentle touching.

    Ah, maybe if the tech geniuses out there could devise a way we could feel the touch, then I’d be aroused looking. But just looking?

    I know many women do like watching porn/erotica, so I’m not generalizing at all.

    Joan Price

    Author of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty

    Join us — we’re talking about ageless sexuality at

    Joan Price on

  • And where was I when this movie night was called??

    Seriously…its so good to have my feelings confirmed. Seeing body parts in a variety of contortions does nothing to arouse me. Seeing a love scene where a man knows how to love a woman’s body is simply…amazing. The feeling of arousal through romance is timeless. I remember needing that at 20, 30 and now 50. The difference at 50 is that my comfort level is higher (and therefore more willing to explore different contortions/places and I am "better"at sex because of this comfort.

    Becky on

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