11/13/2008 12:25 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Advice For A Liberated Woman

Q: I have a question. It's not about something that has happened, but rather about something that I wish could happen. I want to pay a man to have sex with me.

I read in the paper about a popular French movie whose main character is a dynamic middle-aged woman who pays for sex. On the surface, this might sound very French -open, as usual, about sexual matters. But the article informed us that the French have their hang-ups when it comes to the sexuality of women. In fact, the movie's screenwriter, a woman, could not get her film made. It was only when she recast her screenplay as a novel and the book became a best seller that money was found to produce the film. Still, the French might have been a tad reluctant to make this movie, but make it they did and it became a sensation. To the apparent surprise of lots of the French, something about this tale hit a popular chord.

I responded to the story as well. In fact, I want to do what the woman in the movies does. I have never admitted this to anyone else. I have never discussed this with anyone else. I have never even heard it suggested in all of the women's groups I have been a part of. I have never even heard it mentioned as a goal of the woman's movement. Sexual equality? Sure... But within reason.. or something like that.

I remember always having the fantasy that as a single woman I could enjoy sex without emotion. I always kept quiet when it was stated that a man has biological needs while a woman has emotional needs. Why can't a woman have both needs? Why can't she have one need one time another need another time and both, God willing, every once in a while?

In my present situation, I find the desire becoming even stronger. I am a 50 year old career woman with two college aged children who are out of the house. My husband and I responded to the empty-nest by taking a look around -and getting a divorce. We both wanted it and we are both happy to move on.

My husband has easily moved into the dating scene and of course he has a wide variety of "friends"! He doesn't have to limit or hide his obvious sexual needs while enjoying the companionship of other more serious friends. I, on the other hand, am always being told that it is not the right time yet for me to date, that I should find someone who also has older children. My friends are all looking for the perfect, serious man who will match my needs.

Why can't a woman search for a life-mate, for a loving supportive relationship, and for a compatible partner while also wanting someone who "gets" her physically? We are always told that we cannot find everything we need in one person. We're told we need to compromise, to accept relationships that fall somewhat short of perfect but contain the elements we value most - trustworthiness, for instance, sobriety, for instance, kindness, for instance. If all that comes in a dull sexual package, so be it. What's more -and here, as Shakespeare put it, is the rub -should we seek sex without emotion we will inevitably find that emotion in the wrong, inappropriate partner. Our punishment is a life of deep regret.

I don't buy it. I just want a sex-filled night. I want what men have. They are supposedly capable of handshake sex - slam, bam, thank-you ma'am. It's accepted that they can detach their biological needs from their emotional ones. Not so women. But I don't want a relationship yet with the "right" man. I want to feel sexy, young, and alive. I want to be able to approach a man purely for sex. That is a difficult thing to do, but how wonderful it would be to have a number I could call for sex without feeling that I am some sort of whacko!

In short, I want what men have. I want to do what men do. What do you think, Dr. Mona, is this possible?

A: Hold on a minute! First, let's just dispose of an obvious fact: you're feeling a need for freedom, for change, for youth, and for LIFE! You're getting out of a marriage. Your kids are moving on. This is a major transition for you and it's one you choose to interpret in sexual terms. This is understandable. You associate sexual freedom with independence.

Once, of course, such a route would have been bold and virtually unheard of. Now, though, there is even a name for a woman who has sexual relationship with a younger man: Cougar. At least on TV, cougars are those free, proud women who enjoy both the sensual kick of younger sexual partners and the ego bath that comes from adulation. This, of course, is what older men have been getting from younger women for eons. It is a version of the mentor-mentee relationship - a relationship that is often supercharged with sexual power.

This is almost certainly a piece of what you are feeling. But I was really much more interested in what seemed to be an underlying issue in your question - your feeling (even before the divorce) that for a woman to be truly equal, she must not only be equal in the workplace and elsewhere, she must also experience a man's sort of sexual freedom. This is something I felt keenly when I was younger. I, too, wanted the freedom to enjoy whichever sexual partners came along. So, as they say, I know where you are coming from.

The true gift of the women's movement, of feminism, is the right to be what you want to be and do what you want to do. It means that a woman can, if she so chooses, step out of stereotypical roles. This should include sex. You might say that you want to act like a man. I would say you want to act like a woman--a woman who is not constrained by outmoded sexual roles. True equality means being able to do whatever you feel comfortable doing.

In your case, you might very well be comfortable having unemotional sex with younger men, even men you pay. You have my permission to do what you want and, please, have a very good time.

One other thing: You may be on the cutting edge of social change, but some of your sexual partners will not be. Liberated women are now common; liberated men are not. In my case, men were always assuming that a sexual relationship was just a prelude to a desire for a stable relationship and a walk down the aisle. Several times I had to make it perfectly clear to them that our relationship ended at the edge of the mattress; it went no further. I was not searching for a long-term relationship, but rather for a short-term pleasure. Not a single one believed it. Men, it turned out, are the true Victorians. Their liberation is yet to come. (As a parting gift to them, you might want to give them the French novel you mentioned.)

But in your case or in the case of many other women, there is no need to control your sexual wants. Enjoy yourself, and at the next women's group meeting, bring up this topic. You may find that other women may desire what you want.

Have fun--and keep me informed.