Did You Give Up Sex for Motherhood?
Erica Jong’s name may ring a bell. She wrote Fear of Flying in 1973 and put into words what many women of the '60s were thinking about the stifling stereotypes of being a ‘good wife and mother’.
Recently, Jong has been making news for taking on this generation of mothers, admonishing us for losing ourselves in motherhood. In the Wall Street Journal last year, she wrote how attachment parenting was imprisoning women in motherhood and coined the term: "motherphilia".
Recently, in the New York Times, she wrote about how women are choosing motherhood over sex. In her piece entitled “Is Sex Passe?” she says that women are turning their backs on the ideals of “sexuality without fear of dominance, repression or unwanted pregnancy”.
According to Jong, wearing a sling puts distance between yourself and husband and extended breastfeeding shows men that women’s breasts “do not belong to him”.
To which I have to ask, didn’t Jong teach me long ago that my breasts belong to me and are not for men??
Jong is disappointed that modern women are choosing monogamy over open marriages and that we are settling down returning to some kind of '50s stereotype. Is frequent and open sex what keeps marriages together? Or is it the acceptance of our individuality, our commitment to raising a family, and our sense of humour that keeps us bound to each other? (And yes, sexual intimacy as well.)
Jong seems to think that a rejection of her definition of good sex is also a rejection of feminism. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Because of her and her feminist colleagues, women now enjoy access to birth control and extended maternity leave from the careers we choose. Because of feminism, men share in the life of a family; they are caregivers and partners and may even wear the sling sometimes.
Jong is selling herself and the movement short and I am disappointed in her superficial assessment of motherhood. It isn’t easy to figure out one’s role in this day and age. Perhaps, I do rely too much on the idea of motherhood for an understanding of my role in life. I worry that I am not setting a good example for my kids about the importance of women working and contributing equally to my family.
But Jong has no right to condemn my monogamous sex life, which is just fine – better than she thinks actually. My kids may have ruined my sex life for a few months at a time, but parenting overall has deepened our connection to each other – not distanced it.
Do you feel like you gave up your sex life for motherhood? Or has it just made you more creative (and/or tired)?
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