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Sex Positivity and Parenting: Should Moms Still be Sexy?

Sex Positivity and Parenting: Should Moms Still be Sexy?
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Parents can be sexual, but there are limits.

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Milf2011  

Great article, i think women get more horny as they have children and get older aswell. It's there hormones you see.

09/20/2011
MadisonYoung  

Roland - There are numerous facts through out this article which you base your blog on which are simply not true. You say that you got the information from my gallery web site but that is obviously not true as well because you have printed inaccuracies on everything from the venue in which these events took place to the medium, title and content of the work. So if you can't get the basics of even what or where these pieces are taking place I don't see how you are supposed to critique them in any way. If you want me to go through step by step and point out the numerous inaccuracies of this article I'm happy to.
1. Neither of these events took place at Femina Potens Art Gallery. Femina Potens hasn't had a physical space since November of last year.
2. These events (Sizzle & The Visual Art Exhbit - Becoming MILF) were presented by Femina Potens as part of Femina Potens programming. Sizzle in August at Viracocha and Becoming MILF as part of a larger art festival at Michelle Oconnor Gallery. Both are supported by grant fundin g as mentioned above. Becoming MILF as part of the FP Family & Youth Program and Sizzle as part of our Healthy Community Program.
3. You say that "Becoming MILF " was a performance that I did at Sizzle that involved me breast feeding my child. - This is FALSE. My on stage involvement at Sizzle involved two things 1) Sitting on stage with two other mothers breast feeding in solidarity as part of World Breast Feeding Week and The Great Latch On as presented by La Leche League. While sitting on stage breast feeding we openly discussed difficulties, obstacles, challenges, and resources for breast feeding and lactation. There was nothing eroticized about this - just as there was nothing eroticized about the incredibly tearful and inspiring power behind the words of other performers who discussed potential exposure to HIV & rape survival. This was a community event that involved tears, hugs and togetherness. There was a discussion on Consent and Communication around Safer Sex. It was just that - a discussion. My child would be exposed to conversations around consent and safer sex and female empowerment whether I'm at the dinner table or at an event. There was NOT an explicit performance at this event. And this was specifically an ALL AGES event and an ALL AGES venue.
4. You say that "Sizzle! and other performance pieces held at her gallery, Femina Potens, always have sexual elements. " This is FALSE. Sizzle is not always a sexual event. It often is not about sex. Often it is about identity or gender, art theory or motherhood. We have have Sizzle based on LGBT history, breast cancer, & featuring university professors and famous beat poets such as Diane DiPrima. Sizzle is even growing to encompass book publishing. Sizzle is a literary program not a sexual program. Femina Potens most certainly does not always have sexual elements and as stated before even has a youth program. We have had circus themed exhibits, illustration and comics, childrens books, & are even partnered up with other SF youth organizations to provide art classes and mentorship.

5. You say "Becoming MILF" was a performance piece that included me breast feeding my child. This is FALSE. Becoming MIlF was not a performance piece. Becoming MILF was not even a visual art piece. And Becoming MILF did NOT involve a peformance of me breast feeding my child. If you had bothered to look at my artist statement clearly published on my gallery web site you would see that Becoming MILF was a visual art exhibit that took place in April regarding art works that documented my personal journey into motherhood and explore the post-partum sexual identity of women.

If you want to have a discussion regarding consent of my daughter participating in art work that I have created that is a whole other topic that is separate from that addressed in your article. Parents give consent for their children whether it is to play little league softball or to be photographed. My daughter makes art with me whether that involves playing with finger paints, reading books on Basquiat and Frida Kahlo or participating in photo projects. This was a small gallery opening in which I could name all of those in attendance. This was a celebration of my entry into motherhood and the birth of my daughter in which the media has decided to make into a huge deal nearly half a year after this small San Francisco exhibit in which my friends, family and community were in attendance.

I understand that the art I create will cause dialogue but if you decide to critique the work I wish that you would have some idea of what you are critiquing rather than participating in harmful and hurtful internet gossip and perpetuating lies for yet another blogger to write something about.

09/20/2011
Ryan Valentine  

Just to clarify .. its not technically a critique if you haven't actually seen the art. Just to clarify. Its a moral judgement. So you and Furry Girl both occupy the same territory here. Watch a youtube video or something at least. Your saying, breastfeeding at an event like Sizzle is wrong or talking about something sexual while you engage in breast-feeding is wrong. Your Edwardian British is showing. Those are moral judgements.

Also mildly idiotic and most likely the ridiculous under-current the artist sought to confront.

09/20/2011
JulieJezebel  

Thank you Ryan. That was succinct. I don't think a critical assessment can be done without witnessing the art. Like I said, Roland, you can decide you won't like it, but I do think there are moral judgements happening without context or possibly correct info. I mean, look into that, see what the facts are. I think that's a responsibility of all of us bloggers. Talk to Madison directly.

One thing that keeps coming up for me? Which has nothing to do with the piece that Madison is describing above but nags at me...breastfeeding is undeniably sensual. That sensuality (along with the sexual connotation of breasts in western cultures) makes many many people damn tweaky about it.

It can be one of the most sensual relationships and moments a woman ever ever has (and not with a partner but with her child) and I think that freaks people out. And frankly I suspect most of us love breasts (men and women both) not because of the hot/sex action they can facilitate but because they are so damn comforting. Because life came from them. And that is highly charged and even more so in a culture that pretty much hates sensuality, nudity, pleasure.

It's no wonder people freak the fuck out about it, but it isn't a reason to stop creating art and dialogue about it. In fact it may be the only way it winds up changing.

Really though the only way that dialogue can happen is if it actually happens, not if people decide to write posts about it based on hearsay, which seems to be happening a lot cause ....well...internet.

09/20/2011
Eristocracy  

Not a critique but a shallow moral judgement made with inaccurate facts. Good journalism means doing your research and not half-assing it. And it's not really a controversy, breast-feeding in public for World Breast-feeding week, now is it? I have a hard time imagining why people who value breastfeeding would have a problem with this, but then again, you didn't have your facts straight and you obviously have a hang-up about nudity.

09/20/2011

Everybody keeps telling me that my facts are wrong, when the fact I'm complaining about - that Madison breast-fed at Sizzle! as performance art - is absolutely, 100% accurate. If there was some confusion about the name, or the venue, or what type of sandwiches were served during the intermission, I apologize - but really, it's like the police sending you a parking ticket with one field identifying your vehicle as "red" and you sending it back saying: "I don't have to pay this. My car is VERY CLEAR scarlet, not red."

My entire ISSUE with this is the fact that Madison's supporters look at the minutiae, while in the great, big sphere of teh interwebs all the repressive right wing will see is "porn performer breastfeeds at sex event." Like it or not, that's the legacy of Madison's performance for those not willing to do their research.

(And for those that do, the headline will read: "Artist who just happens to have stared in 74 pornographic films breastfeeds at an event that occasionally has had sexual elements to it.")

09/21/2011
oldman  

Nice post, excellent rebulttles.

09/21/2011

Okay, so I've had a bit of a chat with Madison and I have had my perspective broadened a bit.

I think the issue is that Madison does not exist in a single dimension. The issue is that she does things that have absolutely no sexual element to them at all - like the reading at Sizzle! - but because the public perception of Madison Young is such a sexualized brand (just Google her name - the results are NSFW) people like Furrygirl and myself have issues separating non-sexual Madison from sexual Madison.

Therefore when she does perfectly rational and appropriate things (like breastfeeding, which I strongly support) many people view them through a sexualized filter and therefore feel that they're inappropriate - even though they're not.

So the "problem" isn't really with Madison herself, but with the way other people view her. Yes, perhaps Furrygirl and I are dicks for not being able to treat her as an artist who can perform in a non-sexual capacity as well as a sexual one.

But then again, she's the one who has created her personal brand and shaped that view; so like it or not she had some responsibility for how others view her; and if that is not how she wants to be viewed, will have to embrace the challenge of separating the sexual elements of her art from the non-sexual ones.

You can't become a popular figure by playing off your sexuality and then divorce yourself from it. That's not how fame, or infamy, works. She needs to launch a re-branding campaign; although perhaps her performance at Sizzle! was one of the first steps in doing just that.

09/21/2011
JulieJezebel  

I think how our world has built itself in to a binary (you can be a porn star, or you can be an artist but not both) is at the crux of her work. You can be a mother, or you can be sexual. When you do both and have more than one identity, people resist. The culture resists in part because it's how corporate branding works these days (search engines etc). I AM THIS! If you are two things, no one believes you, people doubt you, and yoiu have to "rebrand" which I is a term I don't like.

I don't think we can separate the sexual out of our lives. We can compartmentalize it, sure. But it isn't excised. In the worst cases (priests and religion) it becomes toxic. The irony is that her work and very name were being attacked as toxic because she was integrating herself and her work and her identities.

She's highlighted that tension RIGHT HERE. Right in that work. Anyway, I'm very glad to see you all spoke. Thank you for sharing that with us.

09/21/2011
JulieJezebel  

"I think the issue is that Madison does not exist in a single dimension." And yes, this. None of us do.
"and if that is not how she wants to be viewed, will have to embrace the challenge of separating the sexual elements of her art from the non-sexual ones. " what if she wants to be seen as both? As a whole person and performer? I find that to be a thrilling question for all the reasons I stated above.
What if all of us mothers want to be whole, alive, sexual and maternal and non sexual and all of it.
And frankly, I think she (or any artist) has the right to try and make that happen.

09/21/2011

Hi Julie,

Madison faces a challenge doing that because she is a public figure, and the public perception of her is largely sexual (read the Wiki entry on her, and Google her name to see all the NSFW links.)

I think that's why Furrygirl and I had the reaction we did. We're so used to seeing her as a sexual performer, that it's difficult to wrap our heads around her being anything else.

Madison created her public image and now her life is moving in different directions, it's sometimes working against her.

09/21/2011
JulieJezebel  

Yeah, I get that. I understood it in the first post.

But what I'm saying is all of us face that challenge and that tension is inherent in the work of (I suspect anyway) anyone playing with the challenges of being a mother and sexual. It's a meta commentary. You all had that reaction because of the paradigm of "how things should be" "you can be one or the other" and it rattled you and others. And it's inspired some amazing conversation which I think is also kind of awesome.

I think the current cultural stance is (with corporate this and that and branding and identity management) is that you can "only" be on way. Like when Jim Carrey started doing serious work. No one wanted him to do that. He had a type and a brand and so the fuck what if he wanted to stretch. It's up to him as a performer to decide if he just wants the paycheck that he gets for pleasing the masses or to do his own thing artistically.

I think all of us could bear exploring that tension in our own mundane little lives, shake it up a bit, be an outlaw of sorts, not by compartmentalizing, but by integrating and demanding people see the whole.

Not that it will be easy. I'm not naive, but I find that a fuller expression of humanity and art than just "being a brand" from any artist.

09/21/2011

Amen. Great comment.

Okay, I'll admit that the way it was presented to me made Madison's performance kind of squickish, but the more it's been explained to me the more I understand where she's coming from and why I had the reaction to it that I did.

09/21/2011

yes

01/10/2013
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