Iris Krasnow talks the life stages women go through with sex
BY MEREDITH MORRIS For Sun-Times Media April 21, 2014 11:58AM
Iris Krasnow discusses
7-9 p.m. April 23
Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St.
(708) 452-3440; Oppl.org
Updated: May 18, 2014 6:08AM
When it comes to sexuality, there are as many seasons as there are life stages and lifestyles.
Oak Park native Iris Krasnow, now a New York City author, journalist and professor, explores the ways in which women sustain intimacy throughout the stages of their lives in her new book, “Sex After...Women Share How Intimacy Changes as Life Changes.”
The book features interviews with 150 women, from waitresses to CEOs, ages 20 to 88, as well as with sex researchers, gynecologists, oncologists and therapists. Krasnow will speak about “Sex After” at the Oak Park Public Library April 23.
Krasnow ranks her local upbringing as significant to her career.
“I am so proud of being from Oak Park. It’s at the core of my being,” she said.
A graduate of Oak Park-River Forest High School, she was honored in 2011 with its Tradition of Excellence Award.
“I was born the day we bought our house at 926 Forest Avenue and lived there until I went to college,” said Krasnow, 59. “I was obsessed with spelling and words and writing since the time I was in kindergarten. I remember in second grade writing something and the teacher said, ‘You’re going to be a writer.’”
Krasnow referred to “Sex After” as the “obvious next step” after penning her last book, “The Secret Lives of Wives.”
Whereas that book focused on how to make intimate relationships endure, the new book looks at how women can keep intimate connections aflame during life’s roller coaster that can include “after college, after the honeymoon, after midlife malaise, after cancer, after divorce and after other losses and heartaches.”
“I go from the hooking-up passages in your 20s to after widowhood,” Krasnow explained. “As a journalist, I just ask honest, frank questions and I always get honest, frank answers.”
Yet those answers don’t come easy. To get to the level of intimate conversation that her research requires, Krasnow’s interviews can take up to 18 hours.
“I think this was my hardest book,” she said, compared to her past five. “When you’re talking to people about intimacy and sexuality, it’s intensely personal, private and not always dinner conversation.”
In Krasnow’s eyes, Americans are just hitting stride with sexuality in a way that promotes shedding our Puritanical views and more candidly grappling with intimate issues.
“I came of age during the early 1970s, an era marked by the struggle for gender equality and what was then considered the modern Sexual Revolution,” she said. “I don’t think that was an authentic revolution. I think that the Sexual Revolution that’s going on right now is more authentic, and healthier.”
In a sense, she said, “we’re catching up with our European counterparts in recognizing sex as a normal behavior.”
A hallmark of this current age, Krasnow said, is children’s exposure to sexuality at a younger age and to previously non-public behaviors like same-sex marriage.
“This is part of a more authentic Sexual Revolution,” she said. “Whether we, as parents, are on board with this or not, there’s no denying it’s happening.”
The most effective and caring thing parents can do, she said, is express the sacredness of sex and help their children gain a healthy approach to “letting people into that sacred space.”
Krasnow believes “Sex After” can help readers expand their perceptions of what’s acceptable.
“I think it’s a hopeful book and that everyone who reads it is going to realize that there’s no ‘normal’ when it comes to sex,” she said.