I’ve been thinking a lot about how our culture so damn mothers’ sexuality. Yeah, we’re all cool with women having casual sex and women owning their orgasms and women being as freaky as they want to be.
But for moms? Different rules entirely.
Women with children are expected to abide by an antiquated, prudish code that renders us chaste, “good” examples for our children. Which is bullshit, of course, because moms have just as many sexual needs and desires as other women. In fact, I believe motherhood is a massive gateway to unlocking your sexuality, if your experience is like my own. That experience includes evolving from a perfectly healthy sexual woman, to a woman who is now fully living in my body for the first time and enjoying my body and other people’s bodies more than ever in my life. And I am now a mom.
FYI, just yesterday I ordered from Amazon The Neutered Mother, The Sexual Family and Other Twentieth Century Tragedies. Stay tuned for a review of this 1995 academic tome!
Then today a reader posted this awesome comment that even I was not bold enough to write myself. It is in response to this popular post:
Oh my goodness, thank you for writing this. I am overwhelmed with the amount of conservatism and self-sacrifice people expect of single moms.
I have a two and a half year old and am newly dating someone (about 3 months in). We’ve not had a sleepover yet, but we’re serious about one another — given, we’re as serious as you can get in a few months — and I don’t think sleepovers are too far off for us.
Shocker — I believe in modeling healthy sexuality for my daughter. I read in some thread that if I don’t want my kids having a parade of partners through their lives then don’t show them how to do that. Well, I actually don’t care if my daughter decides that she wants to have lots of casual sex… when she is capable of making that decision — near or at adulthood. I also don’t care if she is gay, or decides polyamory is for her, or is into kinky sex. All I care about is that she feels respected and empowered and in control of her sexuality. I care that she doesn’t hurt others or manipulate them, so I will make sure I don’t date people who are hurtful and manipulative. I care that she can communicate her wants and needs to someone she cares about, so I will model that for her in my relationships. What I cannot protect her from is loss. We lose people we love. Sure, I don’t want her to be heartbroken if I can prevent it, but I won’t always be able to do that.
Sometimes we will make the wrong choice, and our kids will have to go through those consequences with us. This is true whether we are happily married forever or single parents and dating. We will cause pain to our kids. Hopefully rarely, but it is inevitable. How we help them heal is much more important than that it happens.
Anyway, thanks for bringing this refreshing perspective to the overwhelmingly conservative, prudish, and outdated conversations around this topic.
To which I say: THANK YOU. Also: THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
What do you think? Do different sexual rules apply to women and moms? Post in the comments ….
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.