Sex and the Single (Older) Guy: Sexual Lives of Older Unmarried Thai Men During the AIDS Era
In Thailand and elsewhere, some older persons remain sexually active well into late middle and old age. Sexually active older Thai men without a regular sexual partner may be at risk for contracting HIV. Since many of these older men came of age during an era when unprotected commercial sexual relations was normative for unmarried men, if these older men should find themselves without a marital sexual partner -- perhaps as a result of divorce, widowhood, or separation -- they may revert to these former practices, especially since older men have not been a target of intervention campaigns in Thailand. Also, unattached older men are outnumbered by unmarried women in age groups appropriate for sexual liaisons with them, and this imbalance may facilitate noncommercial sexual relationships for older men. We explore these hypotheses using qualitative data from semi-structured, in-depth interviews of unmarried older Thai men, most of whom were in their 50's. These interviews were conducted in a central Thai provincial city during June 2001 and explored a wide range of topics. Here we focus on discussions regarding prevailing social norms regarding older male sexuality during the current era; the number, types, and key features of recent sexual relationships engaged in by these men and by men in their friendship groups; condom use; and the understandings these men have about the risks of contracting HIV and AIDS. Opportunities exist for several of the men we interviewed to engage in a fairly wide range of sexual relationships. Some do, but others choose celibacy because of declining interest; a wish to avoid financial hardships thought to be inextricably linked with sexual relationships; a wish to avoid social sanctions; and/or desires to pursue interests thought to be more appropriate for their age group. Risks for acquiring and spreading HIV do not appear to be great but such risks cannot be ruled out given how little we know about the sexual behavior of unmarried men in this age group.
Later Issued As:
VanLandingham, Mark, and John E. Knodel. 2007. "Sex and the Single (Older) Guy: Sexual Lives of Older Unmarried Thai Men During the AIDS Era." Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 22(4): 375-388. DOI. Abstract.