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Utopian Futures for Sexuality, Aging, and Design

This excerpt is from a letter to a future self, a story written at a workshop held at DIS 2020 [1], where participants reframed and reimagined what intimacy might mean for the aging body and what role technology might play. Aging and the changes to the body it brings with it are often portrayed as something negative, a time of loss and fading away. Images of older bodies are rarely publicized or celebrated; in fact, old age is more often expressed through a (black and white) image of a hand placed on a shoulder. Although initiatives such as #nomorewrinklyhands try to make this lazy messaging visible as well as counter this stereotype, the prevailing societal fear of growing and appearing older means that— deliberate or not—we can tend to erase images of bodies that are engaged in processes of aging. However, when we ignore the aging body, we also erase experiences such as menopause and the changes—positive and negative—that this period brings for people undergoing it. When ignoring the body, we erase close intimate practices that are part of caregiving, including bathing, dressing, and close physical support. When ignoring the body, we erase experiences of intimacy and sexuality and the important part they play in our well-being.

Søndergaard, M.Schulte, B., & Brankaert, R., & Morrissey, K. 2021. 'Utopian Futures for Sexuality, Aging, and Design'. interactions. 28. Available: https://interactions.acm.org/blog/view/utopian-futures-for-sexuality-aging-and-design