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March 10, 2009

Sex, Shame and Motherhood

-20 I've found a plethora of awesome single moms since starting my own blog in 2007. Two of my friends are bloggers on this very network, one here at Rocky Mountain Moms, and one at LA Moms. Another single mom writer recently published a post at Salon.com and people literally threw a fit over the "ickiness" of her topic. They painted a pretty clear picture of the American public's general opinion: Moms are still NOT allowed to be sexual. At all.

Commenter's berated my fellow blogger for her "lude" behavior, for bringing a "stranger" into her home (even though the date was set up through a mutual friend), and for putting her sexual desires above the safety of her daughter. One commenter gave out the ultimatum, "Until you're done lactating, keep it in your pants."

Apparently breastfeeding women should be sent to a nunnery.

The ignorant comments lambasting my friend painted a sad, sexist portrait of our "modern" society, and most of these accusal's were from other women. It breaks my heart that popular opinion remains, that as a female, we can flaunt our sexuality (in a modest way, of course, lest we be label a whore) from the consenting age of 18 until we find ourselves pregnant. Anything outside of that box is utterly taboo. Moms having sexual needs are just "gross."

Are we honestly still of the "babies come from storks" generation? Hello, pregnancy is proof that moms know what sex is. Wedded mamas obviously do the deed, but its behind the locked door of the martial bedroom. They don't discuss it with our kids, on tv, and they don't discuss it in "married woman" magazines. How ironic that the pages of Cosmo are plastered with sex-related articles, while Good Housekeeping promotes creative cake decorating and interior design. How can the same 20-something woman go from sexual temptress to sexless, baking mother? That's a pretty intense transformation to make in 9 months, trading one identity for the other.

We have gained few coined words regarding sexualized mothers in the past decade. Thanks to the movie American Pie, where the term "MILF" was introduced, our conversational dialog is now peppered with the word. You can buy t-shirts expressing the derogatory phrase. Babies sport similar wear, with "My mom is a MILF" plastered across their onesies. Its considered a compliment between mothers of my generation.

For the older crowd of moms, you now are privileged to carry the title of "Cougar" if you decide to date a younger man. Because a woman of advanced age, must prowl for her next sexual meal, of course. For those of you dating men your age, or having sex with your baby boomer husbands...yeah you're still gross. You're not discussed. In fact you're cringe-worthy movie scenes involving Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton.

Why do we celebrate the MILF and the Cougar? Is it because they are the only exceptions to the sexual mom rule? If you aren't a MILF or a Cougar, you must hide your carnal needs in the sock drawer with your vibrator. Its obvious the public outcry the arises when moms start talking about sex. Would you want to think about your own mother going at it like rabbits? Probably not.

 I was a member of the grossed-out club too. Before I donned the pure veil of motherhood, I was a cocky college student, proudly wearing "cooch riders" as my friends and I called them. Being able to wear Britney Spears-inspired jeans that barely covered your naughty bits was the ultimate sexual freedom for a girl my age. I was in full Cosmo mode. My peers and I would actually laugh at jeans that covered your entire stomach, blatantly labeling them, Mom Jeans.

I look back at my drunken sexual prowess and I'm a little saddened by it. I bought into the notion that it was impossible for moms being sexy, in fact, by calling ugly jeans "Mom Jeans", I was literally defining Motherhood as unsexy. Sure, I had seen tons of moms go from frumpy to cute on TLC's "What not to Wear", but none could hold a candle to the pure, unadulterated drug of single hotness I was experiencing.

That window of liberation didn't last long. A year after I graduated college, I was pregnant. I was exiled from my previous life. Sometimes I wonder if women are constantly trying to relive the time when they were the most desired, especially if that time was hardly a blink of the proverbial eyelash. Those who became moms before they could wield the power of sexual freedom, those who never got the chance to find out who they are and what they could do, those who are now trying to live vicariously through their daughters. We've all seen what plastic surgery has done to gratify an aging woman's fantasy of their youth. Sex appeal is a hard drug to give up.

I am a mom now. A single mom. I don't even have the luxury of having socially acceptable sex with my husband behind closed doors. I have to navigate the "He's just not that into You" crowd of dating singles. Its scary. Its hard, and being judged the way Rachel Sarah was on her article, is not uncommon. Its the rule of single motherhood. Its why many single moms never remarry, or never even date. Logistically, socially, emotionally, physically and mentally, sometimes its just not possible.

Maybe society will realize that the basic sexual needs of a mom are also the basic sexual needs of every other childless woman. Gross as it may seem, we are passionate, pleasure-seeking, sweaty, lactating creatures. Maybe instead of giving us such a tiny blip on the radar where we are sexual goddesses, America can grant us the gift of life-long, undemonized sexuality. That way we won't be chasing those memories forever. We wouldn't be manipulating our bodies, and bitterly attacking our fellow moms' morals.

Johanna writes about single motherhood, small town living, pop culture, microbrews, and raising a Gemini at her personal blog, Cost of Living. This is an original Rocky Mountain Moms blog post.

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