Thursday, July 5, 2012

37 Is A Fine Age at Which to Blossom (Against TNG Ageism)

“TNG is about having a comfortable place for younger folk in the lifestyle. There are a bunch of regional groups, but nothing for people from different places to get together to talk to each other and trade advice.
Please be aged 35 or younger. I won't stop you if you are not, but I will be peeved if anyone uses this as a place to troll for younger folk.”--From the TNG Global group on Fet Life
This week, I’ve been having somewhat of an age panic. Earlier this week, I was feeling like putting some mingling on the calendar, and the only thing I could make it to this weekend was the local TNG (the next generation) munch. Just like the global group above and most cities’ TNG groups, our local group has an age ceiling of 35. If you’re over 35, you have to get a younger friend to “chaperone” you to their munches.

I got interested in TNG events because I’d like a dom who doesn’t have, like, two decades of experience on me, but one the other hand, this “chaperone” business seems humiliating, and not in a good way. I also resent the implication that 35 is the age at which one automatically starts “trolling” for younger people to play with—predators and victims come in all ages and experience levels, and putting an arbitrary age limit on interaction just creates more possibility for alienation and miscommunication.

The age-35 cutoff for TNG groups stigmatizes age (even, I think, adulthood)  in a way that mirrors mainstream consumer culture. For a community of people who are so creative in their physical expression, I hate when kinky folks sure seem to exemplify and even exaggerate the limits which mainstream society places on us.

Its true that some cities’ communities may skew a bit old, so I can see the appeal of being able to get together with pals one’s own age. After all, I go bonkers over guys who are 37, they’re the dreamiest and hard to find in an available state. As I learned with Firguy, playing with someone who has so much more experience can create a scary power imbalance.

However, I would not want to restrict myself to only 37-year-old partners—I’d miss out on so much! A large part of what I’m learning here are the best practices for a sexed-up adulthood, so it’s very helpful for me to spend time with couples of all ages and categories.

Society so often sends us the message that sexuality is only to be explored by the young. I’m told in a million ways a day by pop culture that my age makes me less worthy of affection and love. (Think Barney’s constant ageist cracks of How I Met Your Mother.) Even though I’m a good sport with a lot to offer, I often worry that I took too long to blossom and now I’m just an undervalued resource. Everyone has stuff that might limit their dating capacity: size, disability, even just having really specific tastes. It seems really creepy to add arbitrary age limits on top of that!

Dear TNG, it isn’t my fault that this particular phase of my sexual awakening came at 37 instead of 20. I was doing worthy things with those years, making art, travelling, writing poetry, making friends. I’m so proud of everything those years meant to me, even if it meant that my kinky side didn’t emerge until later.

My perspective isn’t any les valuable because I’m 37, nor is my ass any less hot. I’m trying to keep reminding myself that age-fears are just that, fears, and I shouldn’t let them hold me back from my adventures. I don’t feel right about needing a chaperone to attend a public event, so for now, I won’t do it. I’ve learned by now not to dabble in things that offend my childlike sense of justice. If something’s not fair, it’s just not fair.

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