Can we talk about the wife, Claire, from House of Cards for a sec? How sexy is she? Not gonna lie, watching her command her non-profit’s workforce in those form-fitting, lightweight wool sheath dresses is one of my fave parts of that show. Yum. But sexy women dressed sexily on TV is not exactly novel. What’s awesome about Claire? Chick is old!
When’s the last time you saw a woman past menopause played explicitly as sexy and sexual on television? The last woman I remember seeing with any sexual agency beyond 40 on the teeves was Blanche Deveroux, and that was campy as hell.
Claire is both sexy and sexual. She is depicted as being sexually desirable to more than just her husband, and she demonstrates an obvious desire to have sex, despite being past the age when it could result in pregnancy.
I love this for a few reasons. First, because I think it’s something many people experience that doesn’t get much play on TV. It is also instructive to young people, so, for me, it helps allay some fears about aging and sexuality.
Around 80% of 50-90 year–olds are sexually active, yet they are almost never portrayed as such in popular media. For good or bad, art is both a reflection of the culture and an influence upon it. I want a culture where women can be considered sexually capable beings for as long as they want to be, not until they hit some societally imposed expiration date and then are told to focus on their knitting or whatever.
More specifically, I have fears and anxieties, which I frankly doubt are unique to me, that my days of being considered sexy and desirable are numbered and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.
Of course there are biological realities influencing what people find sexy. There’s a reproductive advantage favoring females of child bearing age to those past menopause. But there is way more to sex than reproduction, and more to attraction than signs of fecundity. Confidence, intelligence and flirtiness are all essential to attraction for me, and I’d guess for most people I’d want to bang. I trust that all those attributes have increased exponentially for me as I’ve sailed past barely legal and begun a rapid approach to what I hope will be my “dirty thirties.”
Of course, some people are relieved to get old and take it as an opportunity to stop feeling any need or pressure to have sex. Awesome, there’s more to life than sex.
But this girl hopes to enjoy being sexy and having sex well past her first hip replacement. And she doesn’t want to feel like a weirdo for doing so! Characters like Claire help normalize the concept of a sexy and sexual older woman. I think this can help women not feel afraid of getting older.
Perhaps as we begin to help disentangle desirability from youth, the pressure to look and act young in order to be considered sexy will diminish, and women can feel more comfortable focusing on those other aspects of attractiveness, like agency, command, and adventurousness in the time they would’ve spent on the plastic surgeon’s table.
And maybe, just maybe, it can also relieve pressure on men to demonstrate their status by attracting one of a limited number of young women. Maybe instead they can work on attracting the highest quality, most interesting woman available, regardless of her age.
So for these reasons, and just because they’re fun to watch, I want to see more Claires. Keep them sexy and sexual older ladies coming, scriptwriters. Both because it helps me remember what I have to look forward to, and because I want the idea to be normalized that aging doesn’t need to mean an end to a rocking sex life for those who don’t want it to be. Or not, I’m still gonna get it on when I’m old. I also get off on being devious.