50 Shades of Red Over Fifty Shades of Grey. ~ Donna Highfill

Via elephant journal
on Jan 7, 2013
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I admit it. I was raised as a Southern Baptist preacher’s kid with a mother who thought French kissing was disgusting.

Sex was not a big topic in our household unless we were practicing the anatomically correct words for all body parts. Believe me, say penis and vagina enough as a kid and you’ll never want to interact with either one of them.

I’m not saying I entered marriage as a virgin or stayed pure by any stretch of the imagination, but I did always feel a little guilty for whatever I experienced. I remember the first time my high school boyfriend borrowed his dad’s car and took me parking. I had never been parking before and things moved pretty fast for a girl who had only been kissed. My boyfriend got my bra unhooked and my blue jeans pulled to my ankles.

I wasn’t sure what he was going to do down there, but I imagined it was going to be pretty good.

Then we saw the flashlight and heard a knock on the window. Yes, the first time I let loose of my libido a cop showed up. I pulled my jeans up so fast that the crotch of my underwear pulled up but the rest stayed at my knees, binding them together. I pulled my shirt down, but the bra was still unhooked.

As we were asked to get out of the car, my bra was causing my sweater to do all sorts of funky things, and I had to hop to the back of the car since my knees were held together by Hanes. When the cop mentioned that the neighbors had complained about us, my only response was, “We weren’t that loud.”

So I learned to be quiet. Sex has always been good, but a very private thing for me. Once a cop catches a glimpse of your privates you tend to become, well, even more private. So I’m the woman that goes into the hot yoga locker room and locks herself behind a stall door to change clothes. I refuse to shower because I don’t want someone to catch a glimpse of me.

I wish I would have worked on this issue when I was young and had the body to express my future new found freedom. Breaking out as a 52-year-old is kind of like Mother Theresa discovering the bikini. You’re happy she has this new freedom, but you’d rather not look at it.

When my daughter told me to read the Fifty Shades of Grey series, I went to Barnes and Noble to purchase them. I hovered around the display for new books, looking to my left, then to my right. Just as I reached for the volume with handcuffs on the front, I saw a man walk up behind me. I quickly put it down with a sound of disgust as if I had picked up the wrong book. How did I end up holding such smut when I was interested in the new Lincoln biography?

I moved to the intellectuals only table and read through some of the classics that bored me in college and still sit on my shelves at home. I stayed there, reviewing something boring, until the man left. Once he moved towards the cash register with his book, I wandered back over to my grey area. I hovered around, reaching and releasing the handcuffs, reaching and releasing. Finally I saw a worker moving towards me, probably reporting a potential shoplifter. I picked up Lady Chatterley’s Lover from the classics table and moved directly to the cash register. If only it were 1928, I would be seen as a sexual libertine.

Later I realized that D.H. Lawrence was no competitor for today’s smut, so I decided to download the books on my iPad. As I tried to download, my password refused to work. Was this a sign from God? Did She know exactly what I was doing?

I read a blog that shared a few lines from the second book and turned fifty shades of red.

Yes, I used to read erotica out loud to others in college, and I looked at pictures of Long Dong Silver with his impressive prick…I mean, penis. But that was when we could all laugh and pretend it was about the comedy. I will read anything out loud if it will make people laugh and sex is the adult-version of potty humor. Say “Long Dong Silver” to anybody, anywhere. A laugh is guaranteed.

My daughter and son were talking about the books later that night. My daughter said, “I know it sounds like porn, mom, but it’s actually a great story.” My son looked at her with a smile on his face and said, “That’s what men have been saying about porn for years.”

I have yet to read the books. I’m pretending it’s because people have told me the writing is horrible. The whole event, however, has caused me to think about my sexuality as I tip over the 50 mark and slide towards 53 this year.

So far, the only thing really subduing my sex life is an 85-pound boxer that sleeps in the bed with my husband and me.

I listen to young women in their 20s who obsess over their bodies and talk about how they don’t like certain parts of themselves. I think that is the big stop sign for women in their 50s. It’s not a total lack of desire as much as it is a reluctance to be naked for any reason. I recently read something where a male writer said that women judge their physical appearance much more than men do.

Men, pretty much, would just be happy with the sex.

I think that my friends who have always been a little hyper-sexual are more concerned about keeping their sex lives super active and youthful. I’m pretty happy with mine. I actually feel guilty saying that, but it’s true. I don’t need handcuffs or whips or Nicholas Sparks to have a good sex life.

I don’t believe there are any black and white rules for sex after 50. If you and your significant other are happy, shut out the rest of the opinions on the topic. Be happy. If that means quality over quantity, be happy with it.

Or if you like a little spanking here and there, go for it.

My husband knows that if he tried to spank me I’d knock him unconscious, so we leave spanking out of the equation. But we have burst into laughter in the middle of an intimate moment—that’s our thing.

No matter what your age, when it comes to sex you know what you and your partner respond to. Have fun. Enjoy it. Don’t worry about how much or where or when. Sex is sex, whether you’re 18 or 55. Stop looking for black and white answers to what is or is not an acceptable sex life. There are no absolutes, because with sex there are many shades of grey.


donna highfill Donna Highfill has worked with corporations and individuals in the change arena for more than 25 years, documented in her book “Real People, Real Change.” She believes in the people side of change, and has driven major corporate initiatives by working behaviors from the middle-out. Donna also loves to make people laugh, and because she loves laughing more than meetings she is expanding her speaking, writing, and coaching. Donna is a regular blogger at HuffPost50, and you can contact her at [email protected].



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Ed: Kate B.


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24 Responses to “50 Shades of Red Over Fifty Shades of Grey. ~ Donna Highfill”

  1. javaj240 says:

    Honestly, I read the first book because someone gave it to me. It's patently ridiculous. If Christian Grey is what women in their 20s want, more power to them. But, I'll bet the uber controlling man-child won't be hanging around til their 50s.

    Great post.

  2. sharongreenthal says:

    My first time, my mother walked in on us. No joke.

    I am happy with my sex life. My husband and I are completely in tune with each other, and we seem to do ok most of the time. On the other hand, I don't expect my sex life to be stupendous at this point in my life – satisfying and intimate is enough for me.

  3. imnotasupermom says:

    This is such a sweet post! I love reading about a relationship that is content, fulfilling, and still exciting.

  4. I agree with you completely. The whole control thing in my 50's would either be laughed out of the room or result in physical harm to the guy with the whip. Of course, I loved Rocky in my teens, maybe because he was a little rough around the edges . . .

  5. Sharon, I am amazed you ever had sex again. I do remember my father coming out to tell me I needed to come in and my teenage boyfriend and I were so grateful for the extremely steamed-up windows :). And, I agree, satisfying and intimate rocks.

  6. Haralee says:

    Too funny. I have not read the books. I got them from the library, and didn't read them and they had to go back. I got them again on tape but then never got to them that time either.

  7. grandmasbriefs says:

    This is so refreshing…and funny. I've felt like such a loser for not jumping on the Fifty Shades bandwagon. To hear I'm not alone is wonderful news. To hear I'm not alone in my attitude toward NOT sharing my sex life with anyone other than my husband is even more wonderful. Thank you! This is too funny: "My husband knows that if he tried to spank me I’d knock him unconscious." Same here! Great post!

  8. This post made me smile, and crack up (in a kind way of course) over your adventures with the policeman.

    As for 50 Shades of Grey, any woman who has spent any amount of time living in France (who, moi?) will shrug, and yes bemoan the writing, then reference The Story of O, and move on to other topics. I'm with you on "whatever works for you." But that said, a little playful something new (and 50 shades of Red Shoes?) can work wonders to put a spring in your step.

  9. As I fast approach 50 (I turn 48 this year) I can so relate to this blog post! It's so funny when I think of all of the products and such that people try to get in the mood. I have to tell you what gets me in the mood, repeat the following 3 words after me: DAUGHTER NOT HOME. Seriously. That's all I need. Just some alone time without us worrying that we'll wake her up. She wasn't home last Friday when I got home from work and well….it wasn't quite 50 shades-worthy, but nice just the same! Thanks for a great story and not being afraid to reveal a part of yourself through your writing. I'm visiting from She Writes, by the way. – Take care, Lisa

  10. Janie Emaus says:

    That story in the car is too funny! I haven't read Fifty Shades yet either. And not because of the sex. Afterall, I worked in the porn industry for ten years. I just haven't had the time.

  11. I lost my copy and did not feel the urge to get and buy a new one. By the way 52 is a great time to start to express yourself..Great piece.

  12. Thanks for this frank and sweet post about your experiences. Rings very true for me, except for the policeman.

  13. I write about sex sometimes on my blog, but I could not make it through this book. It wasn't the sex that hampered me, it was the insipid and completely unlikable heroine of the story. For God's sake, there is not a university graduate in literature in Seattle who doesn't have an email account!! How did she sign up for classes? How did she get her grades??

    See, I can't enjoy my smut while having worrying thoughts about the heroine's grades, and whether or not she had late fees, or had to crash her courses to get in to class, because she couldn't registered for them on time for lack of an email account! Suddenly I'm thinking, "What sort of parents don't get their daughter at least a cheap laptop for college and help her sign up for hotmail?" Who cares about Christian Grey's horrible abusive childhood when neglect like that is going on?

    And suddenly I'm not turned on at all; I'm just annoyed.

    The fact that her only curse words are "crap" and "double crap" didn't help either.

    I wanted to like this book. I really did. I even like a little kink, so I should have liked this book. But I couldn't. Maybe after that lobotomy I'm going to have someday I can give it another try.

    As far as you, you are hilarious. I did feel bad right away for your dad, though. No French kissing? Really? That's sad. That's very, very sad. But before I could cry too many tears about your dad, you had me laughing about your pants. BTDT. Only for some reason getting caught by the police didn't hinder my love of parking too much. May I suggest you try it again? It really is fun when you're an adult and there aren't any parents to call. But I suggest you don't take the dog.

  14. @EllenDolgen says:

    Love how open and honest you are Donna. I have read all three books…here was my take on them&hellip ;http://www.shmirshky.com/menopause-blog/2012/07/30/menopause-mondays-fifty-shades-of-menopause/

  15. Chloe – you slay me. I laughed all the way through your comment. think you need to write an entire post on the heroine (or lack thereof) of 50 Shades of Grey. Have you already? If so, I'd love for my daughter to see it!!

  16. Yes, I think the policeman was my own special gift :).

  17. What is the significance of 52? Because I do seem to be breaking out of all sorts of boxes right now.

  18. Janie – your perspective on that book would make for an incredible series of blogs!!

  19. Hi Lisa – I've read several of your blogs and love them! I need to post more things on She Writes. I just haven't gotten going there yet . . . and there seems to be a lot of great writers there. Thank you for commenting.

  20. What about a pair of red track shoes? That would be cool. I dated a guy from France once, and I have a feeling he would wonder what the big deal was about 50 Shades. Definitely requires the Puritan background to seem risque.

  21. Thank you – I've read a couple of your blogs recently and love them!

  22. I'd love to know who's reading those books on tape . . . Connie Stevens, perhaps?

  23. L-O-V-E the humor and the absolute permission to let your sex life be whatever it is…in our society we have too many dagnabbed rules already- and they do not belong in the boudoir:)