"No strength": sex and old age in a rural town in Ghana.

Department of Anthropology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Social Science [?] Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.56). 12/2001; 53(10):1383-96. DOI: 10.1016/S0277-9536(01)00222-2
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This article is part of a larger project on social and cultural meanings of growing old in a rural community of Ghana, the fieldwork for which was carried out between 1994 and 2000. It deals with ideas and practices concerning sex among the elderly. Informal conversations were held with individual elders and with groups of people that were, middle-aged and young. Sex was generally regarded as a matter of "strength", which was diminishing at old age. For men the concept of strength specifically referred to sexual potency, whereas for women "strength" was part of a more general feeling of physical power and the ability to perform the many activities expected from being a man's sexual partner. Sex at old age is looked at with a considerable amount of ambivalence. On the one hand, it is something that the elderly should have left behind them. On the other hand, sex confirms the vitality and status of the elder. If sex is practised at old age, it should be orderly and restrained, "respectful".

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