“Society colludes to tell men they’re a little bit better than they actually are while it tells women they’re a little bit worse.”
One of many sound bites from Candace Bushnell, who twenty years ago had a dramatic impact on pop culture as her Sex and the City brand tracked the escapades of Carrie Bradshaw and friends as they faced the challenges of sex and dating in New York City.
Fast forward to this week as Bushnell, from a slightly different (older) perspective, re-examines life in her new book, Is There Still Sex in the City? (Grove Press). In a collection of commentaries, she introduces a new group of female friends as they navigate the highs and lows of middle age along with the challenges of mating.
Bushnell described how things go over 50: Parents die, kids leave home, people get divorced, jobs are lost and opportunities for reinvention are created during this tumultuous time, which she calls Middle Aged Madness.
Fans of Sex and the City will surely gravitate to Bushnell’s new book, a satirical tale based on her life after divorce and how she and her single, divorced and widowed friends tried to get back in the game in middle age.
Filled with heartbreaking and humorous anecdotes revealing adventures and challenges, Bushnell tells it like it is, sex and dating over 50 in all its glory and ugliness. She introduces us to labels she developed to categorize types of men, like the Hot Drop, Bicycle Boy and the Spouse-Child. And of course there are the well-preserved Super Middles (middle-aged people that are like they were before, only better) and then everyone else.
It’s not easy looking for love, and Bushnell keeps us chuckling through disappointments as she and her friends face the challenges of new, hopeful romantic relationships and the settling for status quo companionships.
A keen social observer, her stories are delivered with distinct style and humor. In a recent interview, we learned how her new book came about and some of her findings when researching middle age dating trends.
In one anecdote from the book, she describes how she was peer pressured into going out on a date with a former Ivy League football star who said he was in his late 60s. It turns out he was 75, closer to her dad’s age, and all he wanted was sex.
The author also notes there is a whole group of young men in their 20s and 30s who are interested in dating women 30-plus years their senior. This trend is called Cubbing, and it can happen to the most unsuspecting of middle-aged women.
She feels the #MeToo movement has allowed women to stand up for themselves more than before but believes men and women both feel the pressure to stay youthful. There are special surgeries and luxurious creams available to keep women looking and feeling young, but ultimately everyone has to make choices on what they want to invest in based on their own personal comfort level.
Bushnell talked about how in the 1990s working for The New York Observer, she was asked to investigate Jeffrey Epstein due to some suspicions about a private plane and models but was warned by someone close to him to stay away and stop asking questions.
Around the same time, Charlie Rose asked her which was more important to her: writing or a relationship. Back then, her answer was writing. Her priorities still stand, as she is passionate about her work and disciplined to accomplish her goals every day. She enjoys spending time with her current boyfriend, but they maintain their own residences and alternate time together and time apart.
Earlier this year the Wall Street Journal ran an article about the new rules of middle age, and Bushnell was quoted as saying “We are not going to do our 50s the way everyone is telling us we’re supposed to.” She believes after our reproductive years we are reinventing ourselves, starting new ventures, taking chances and learning new things more than ever before.
Asked which reality show is her favorite, she enthusiastically answered “Married at First Sight.’ She believes it is beneficial to have therapists meeting with the couples to give them tips on relationships and coaching throughout the early weeks of marriage.
So in answer to the title of her new book, is there still sex in the city, Candace says yes, but probably a lot less. And is it good? She says it’s probably the same as it was before – if you enjoyed sex when you were younger, you would feel the same over 50.
Is There Still Sex in the City? is now available.
About Candace Bushnell
Candace Bushnell is the critically acclaimed, international best-selling author of Killing Monica, Sex and the City, Summer and the City, The Carrie Diaries, One Fifth Avenue, Lipstick Jungle, Trading Up, and Four Blondes. Sex and the City, published in 1996, was the basis for the HBO hit series and two subsequent blockbuster movies. Lipstick Jungle became a popular television series on NBC, as did The Carrie Diaries on the CW.