Oh, Baby! Yet Another Young(ish) Mother Responds to Erica Jong

Erica Jong is right about one thing: I don’t like to talk about sex.

In her article,  “Is Sex Passe?” (published in The New York Times on July 9th, 2011), Jong asserts that my generation of mothers are bored with sex and so we use motherhood and pregnancy and birth to distance ourselves from our husbands so we don’t have to have sex.

I’m not sure whose reality she’s observing, but it’s not mine.

I don’t like to talk about my sex life. Jong gives the impression that anyone who doesn’t talk in detail about their sex life doesn’t have one, but that’s just not the case. Just because I don’t talk about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I think it’s a matter of a contrary definition of “intimacy.” In my mind, sex is an intimate act. If I talk about the details of my sex life, then it’s no longer intimate.

With that in mind, I’m going to do my best to talk about sex without actually talking about it. We’ll see how this goes.

While bringing children into our homes (and our beds) and loving them (and providing for their needs all day and all night, in sickness and in health, on and on forever), can make “Mommy-Daddy Snuggle Time” difficult to swing logistically, the act of bringing these children into our lives and parenting them can set the stage for incredible intimacy—and a great deal of heat—between their parents.

At least in my relationship, my husband and I are more comfortable with each other since having children. We know each other better. We’ve shared the metamorphosis of my body during pregnancy and birth, and we’ve shared the lasting changes that childbearing has wrought on my body. We’ve shared the intimacy of birth and the explosion of love in our hearts while gazing at our progeny. Even the process of disagreeing and then reconciling about how to raise our children brings us closer.

And really, what’s hotter than a man who’ll sit in the birth tub with his wife while she births their son?

In addition, seeing the amazing things my body can do (creating a human being then nurturing it with milk my body produces? How awesome is that?) has given me a much greater appreciation for my body. I’m more comfortable in my skin and better able to see the beauty that my husband sees in me, which makes it easier for me to feel close to him in the brief moments that we’re actually able to be alone and in close physical proximity to one another. This turns the thermostat up another several notches, as well.

I’m happy with my marriage, and I’m happy with the intimacy that my husband and I share. Were I to judge our physical relationship by Jong’s standards, I might be disappointed. But why should I do that? My husband and I share an equality and mutual respect that it seems many women of her generation only dreamed of, and parenthood has been a factor that has positively contributed to this closeness and sense of partnership in my marriage.

Jong says women of my generation are bored with sex. As a woman of my generation, I disagree. Maybe Erica Jong thinks my love life is boring. But from where my husband and I sit, the thrill is not remotely gone. And I happen to think our opinions matter more than Jong’s on this particular issue.

I’m not remotely the only voice speaking out about the heat that exists in post-baby relationships. I offer some of the ones I particularly like, for your reading pleasure:

“Parents Have HOT SEX Too” at ForgeOver

“Get Out of My Bedroom, Erica Jong. You’ll Wake the Baby.” at The Bad Moms Club

“Dear Erica Jong” at Raising My Boychick

In addition, the comments on the original NY Times piece are quite articulate and pleasant to read and offer great critiques of Jong’s article.

(I’m sure I don’t have to warn you that these posts deal with “adult themes,” but some also have a fair amount of swearing. I would read them when little ones who know how to sound out words aren’t around.)

8 Replies to “Oh, Baby! Yet Another Young(ish) Mother Responds to Erica Jong”

  1. I have nothing against open relationships but I have a really hard time understanding why a feminist would hold them up as an indicator of sexual health either.

    FWIW I’m totally impressed with how (and /that/) you addressed this topic.

    Nicely written!

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    1. That was the thing that caught me, too…that she was implying that there’s something inherently boring in monogamy and that the reason women of my generation embrace it is because we don’t want to be punished by our culture for enjoying sex. Seriously?

      Thanks for the comment and compliment! I was impressed that I addressed this topic, too. This is about the third version of this post. I almost scrapped it entirely, but your words about how dangerous it is for people of our generation to keep silent about this kept haunting me.

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  2. Great post! I am also a lot more comfortable with my body since becoming a mother, but I know that I am comfortable with it within the confines of my relationship and the clothed self that I present to the rest of the world. If I had to be out there in the dating scene in order to find passion and intimacy, I might be a complete wreck over things like my stretch marks, my muffin top, and so on.

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    1. Absolutely agree. I think that’s part of why Jong’s claim that our generation’s focus on monogamy and motherhood is boring compared to her generation’s focus on raunchy sex in open marriages doesn’t make sense to me. Aside from its being a gross generalization, it’s taken me sixteen years and two children with the same man to feel as comfortable with myself as I do. The physical part of the relationship wouldn’t be nearly so fulfilling to me without that closeness partly because I’d be too worried about holding in my stretched-out belly to relax.

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  3. All week I’ve been thinking about how I just love the husbands who love their wives particularly AFTER children. . . how my husband, I’ll speak for myself, loved me when I gained 50lbs in 9 months (or less really) because I was growing a human being inside of me, how he doesn’t say “eww, look at those stretch marks” because, we remember, easily, why they are there. . . and I love that, when I see my friends’ husbands loving them. . . in sickness, in health, in round bellies and puking our guts out. . .there’s little pretense left, and that’s WAY hot. . . knowing someone, really KNOWING THEM and them knowing you and there’s no facad. . . and on and on 🙂 I haven’t been great about commenting of late, rest assured, I’ve read everything 🙂

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    1. Yep, I happen to be very happy with the generation I was born into. The kind of marriage you and I are talking about didn’t seem to be as common a generation ago.

      And I’m keeping track of your doings, too! Exciting stuff is afoot in the Beehive State! 🙂

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