In a time of rather unsettling news, one might imagine that the fact that Dame Judi Dench, at the age of 82, still rather enjoys sex, wouldn’t rate a mention.
But, alas, here we are.
In an interview for The Radio Times, Dench spoke about her latest role playing Queen Victoria in the throes of a romantic-tinged friendship with Indian clerk Abdul Karim in the twilight years of her life. The film, Victoria and Abdul, said Dench, explores the quite shocking idea that sex, romance and intimacy isn’t just for the young.
“Well, of course, you still feel desire. Does that ever go? To the older reader, I would say: ‘Don’t give up,'” the Oscar winner said.
Dench then further scandalised everybody by admitting that she doesn’t wear older lady certified undies (beige, bloomer-esque, devoid of any sexiness, one supposes).
“There’s a lovely naughty knicker shop — but don’t buy up everything because I’m going there,” Dench said (or perhaps she purred? We weren’t eye witnesses).
Dench also spoke about not needing to fake an attraction to her co-star, Ali Fazal, who plays Abdul Karim,
“He is very, very tall.
“He is extremely beautiful and he is an utterly delightful, charming man.”
“No acting at all required.”
In her personal life Dench has also found love once more with conservationist David Mills, 73, following the death of her husband of 30 years, Michael Williams, in 2001.
She told Good Housekeeping recently, “One hot night during the summer we swam and had a glass of champagne in the garden and I said: ‘This is so fantastic’. I get overexcited about things. I love having a laugh.”
Dench joins Jane Fonda, 79, this month in the scandalous act of talking about older people both having sex, and a zest for life.
Speaking at the Venice Film Festival Fonda spilled on filming (and enjoying) sex scenes in her 70s. Because it reflects where she’s at (in the bedroom).
“First of all, we’re braver,” Fonda told The Hollywood Reporter of her sex life now. “What do you have to lose? So my skin sags… so does his. You know your body better, so you’re not afraid to ask for what you need. I think on a love and sex level, it just gets better.”
And here’s the thing, just as in Fonda’s show, Grace and Frankie, in which she and co-star Lily Tomlin have rediscovered their sexual desire after unsatisfying marriages (and created a rather nifty new product line in vibrators designed for older women), older people have sex. And experience desire. And fancy the pants off people.
Something that was reflected in New Zealand’s brand Lonely Lingerie’ decision to cast 56-year-old model Mercy Brewer for its autumn/winter campaign earlier this year. Because, it turns out, (some) women over 30 like nice smalls too – be it for a partner or purely for their own pleasure. Again, wouldn’t it be nice when a woman in her 50s posing in her underwear isn’t celebrated but is, in fact, business as usual?
According to a recent study of 7000 men and women aged between 50 and 90, half of men and almost a third of women aged 70 and over were still sexually active.
As The Conversation reports, about two-thirds of men and more than half of women thought “good sexual relations were essential to the maintenance of a long-term relationship” and “being sexually active was physically and psychologically beneficial to older people.”
Putting to the side sexual problems that can come with age, and creating expectations around what the sex life of an older person ‘should’ look like (it might be swinging from the chandelier! It might be no sex but a nice cup of tea, please! All of which is fine). But it sure would be nice if the news of Judi Dench and Jane Fonda’s sex lives didn’t have such cut-through.
For, surely, we have far more urgent things to be alarmed about.