Societal Attitudes Toward Elderly Sexuality
Although very little empirical research has been conducted to support the premise that society has a negative view of elderly sexuality, a rather large number of people have written about societal attitudes toward elderly sexuality from an historical and present day perspective. These articles describe a variety of viewpoints and provide a starting point for most current day research efforts. The current scientific literature strongly supports the finding that many of societal attitudes toward the elderly and sexuality are based on stereotypes. Throughout history society in general has had a negative viewpoint toward elderly sexuality. The major goal of the most of the writers in this chapter is to convince other health care professionals that the elderly are interested in sexuality, have a capacity for sexual behavior as long as they are in good health, and have a right to express that sexuality, even in long-term care.
One of the most important books on this subject is Robert N. Butler's Pulitzer Prize winning book, Why Survive? Being Old in America ( 1975). Many well-known researchers have taken the time to write articles arguing against current societal stereotypes such as Irene M. Burnside, Myrna I. Lewis, Nathan Kogan, William Masters and Virginia E. Johnson, Domeena C. Renshaw, and Bernard D. Starr. Their articles are listed in this chapter.
Among the titles in this chapter are some literature reviews that focus almost exclusively on mythology associated with elderly sexuality. Also included here are any studies of societal attitudes that do not