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The Madonna/Whore Paradox: De-sexualizing and Re-sexualizing the American Mom

The Madonna/Whore Paradox: De-sexualizing and Re-sexualizing the American Mom
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Making babies is sexy. Having them? Sometimes not so much. For many couples, the transition from carefree lovers to full-time parents comes with unexpected consequences in the bedroom. Maternal instinct can put the kibosh on the libido—of men and women alike. So, can a woman be a model mom and a red-hot momma?

  Choose Your Pigeonhole

Among my peers, I’ve observed the shifts taking place in of all of us: How we did or did not turn into our own mothers; how we did or did not neglect our sexual selves. You don’t have to be a mother to be labeled as a “nurturing” or “caring,” or even “maternal.” Every woman understands the psychological fracture born of the black-and-white stereotyping that decrees we are either “good” (Madonna) or “bad” (whore).

The dichotomy is pervasive in our culture. While some flout convention, like the women who donned T-shirts that read: “Hot Moms’ Club” in acknowledgement of the Madonna/whore split in their own lives, or the adult industry with its attempts to tap into the MILF porn niche and turn it into its own moneymaking industry, the question remains: Can a mother be a sexy?

My husband, an insightful and thoughtful, albeit very heterosexual male, offers the following take: “ I think it has a lot to do with a man’s insecurities. If he feels inadequate around his wife and children, he will be more likely to put her in the box— the place where she’s not hot anymore, she’s just the mom, his mom, the house mom, whatever. He’ll look for his fantasies elsewhere to prove to himself he’s still the man. But if he feels good about himself, and feels he’s pleasing his wife and she’s happy with him, he can still see her as hot and a mom all at once.” But the ball isn’t solely in the man’s court, he adds. “The woman’s got to make the effort to keep the heat going, too,” he says. She doesn’t have to be a different person, but she needs to put their chemistry on the front burner, so to speak.”

I can see his point. It takes a lot of inner strength for a man to feel his place in his own household when the mother is the one who tends to bruised knees and egos so effortlessly. But it also takes a woman feeling good about herself to make that date night count, and not just devolve into a ball of sweatpants and face cream once the little ones are tucked in for the night.

  Culture Versus Nurture

If you want to see evidence that humans come fully equipped with a complex, multifaceted sexuality, visit your local art museum and peruse the displays of graphic statues and statuettes once used in ceremonial worship rituals that were fundamental elements of ancient cultures from around the globe. Large, protruding breasts, bellies and phalluses did not indicate wanton, freewheeling sexuality, but rather, a connection to fertility that in many cases was considered to be divine. Historically, men’s role was to walk tall and carry “a big stick;” women were supposed to grow large in the belly and heavy with child. These were part and parcel of our life cycle, aspects of our sexuality to be applauded and celebrated.

As society shifted from matriarchy to patriarchy, the perception of female sexuality was redefined, dividing women into “either/or” categories that translate to: “Hot women are selfish and cold” and “more nurturing (i.e. mommies) types are not at all sexy.”

Thankfully, some men refuse to buy into the current zeitgeist. “Every woman can be beautiful and sexy, just as every woman can be a cold selfish, heartless person. It really has less to do with what ‘type’ a woman is, and more to do with how happy she is,” says Frank, a newly married 27-year-old. “For me, if a woman is happy and confident and feels good about herself, that is going to be sexy, and I’m not going to sit there thinking about what category she fits into.”

But women have to stop buying into the hype as well. Women who project their own insecurities about their potential lack of attractiveness onto their partners are deflecting, rather than dealing with their own issues. A woman who fears she is no longer the hot siren she once was—or longs to be—may be sending the message to her partner that he simply “doesn’t get it.” It’s a counter-intuitive and dangerous tactic. All psychobabble aside, women must reconcile the split within their own psyches before they can relate honestly with their partners.

In Pink’s video, “Sober,” she attempts to resolve the conflicting aspects of her sober side and her impaired side. She begins by holding and comforting herself—the nurturing mother; but ends up actually making out with herself—the dirty whore, and it’s all the same woman—which may or may not turn you on, but it’s food for thought.

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Comments

Mistress Says  

I think this depends on men and what they find sexy. All the men I have dated plus ex-husbands found lactation enormously sexy and found the strength of motherhood appealing, but if it's the tiny pubescent figure and neediness or weakness that attracts you then the strength of motherhood would definitely be intimidating. The other problem is the prevailing Catholic idea that Mary remained a virgin her entire life. I think that the weariness of caring for a newborn and the demands of child rearing cause us to take our sexuality for granted. This is why I believe in premarital or pre cohabitation counseling.

02/02/2010

I wrote a blog post about this subject:
[http://thebeautifulkind.com/columns/article/mother-whore-complex]

I think we all want it all - men want a nurturing mother to their children AND a whore.

I want a bad boy AND a caring, loyal man.

Trouble is, most men can't handle the mother and whore in one person. Also, most men can't be a bad boy AND a caring loyal man. That's why so many people step outside their relationship to take care of their unmet needs.

Both men and women need to work these kinks out and get over some issues.

IMPORTANT: I have good news for those of you deep in the baby trenches - for a couple years you have to give up yourself to your child, but once your child gets to be 2 or 3, you can start having your adult life back. The complete sacrifice of yourself is temporary. I did not know this when I was knee deep in diapers. I was very depressed, I thought I'd never get my sex drive back or swing again. Needless to say, I'm making all my wild fantasies come true AND being a great mother to my daughter. YAY!

02/02/2010

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