Today, I read this piece in the Huffington Post about why you should have sex with your husband every night. I understand, and even agree, with the basic premise; it’s good to set your busy, child-run lives aside and make time for one another. After that is where the author, Meg Conley, and I diverge. She goes into detail about her thoughts at 16 of what a married sex life should look like and about why you should rock your husband’s world every night. Some of them aren’t thought through to their logical conclusions. Others reveal how Ms. Conley has bought right into sexist stereotypes of what all men need/want (*eye roll*) and how we women are supposed to fulfill them.
I plan on going through Ms. Conley’s post, reason by reason, and analyze what’s right about them, what goes a bit too far in the wrong direction, and what is just a stinky pile of fucking shit. (See what I did there?)
I agree with Ms. Conley. There is nothing like being a mom to make a woman feel like nothing more than a gross, unshowered robot that has a never-ending list of tasks to complete.
1. Get ready for work/work from home/get ready to be a stay at home mom.
2. Feed whiny, cranky kids. Get them ready for school or daycare.
3. Complete projects at work/deal with parent volunteer nonsense at school/do the dishes and laundry, pick up toys, clean a potty accident, grocery shop.
4. Pick up kids.
5. Feed whiny, cranky kids their dinner.
6. Make sure homework’s completed.
7. Attend meeting for school, church, community organization, etc.
8. Put sleep-happy, crazy ass kids to bed.
9. Flop/finish work project/clean up hidden potty accident behind the chair.
With all these things, I still don’t have trouble remembering I’m a woman. (My cramping uterus, bleeding vag, and floppy breasts itching because cookie crumbs are stuck in my bra take care of that for me. And as a friend of mine said, Delivering a baby made me feel much more inherently woman than doing the deed.) No, I have trouble remembering that I’m a separate entity, that I’m Julie. I’m more than a wife and mother. Perhaps I need alone time to write or just flop. I don’t have to accomplish feeling like a woman by getting all bow chicka wow wow with my husband. (Also, I could just feel like a woman by eating chocolate, reading Fifty Shades of Grey, or baking a pie while barefoot.) In reality, if you’re forcing yourself to have sex when you really don’t feel like it, your hubby will just become another item on your “to do” list.
Another thing I take issue with is the implication that only sex with a man will make you feel like a woman. What about women who aren’t married or in a relationship? What about gay women? Are these women somehow inherently less of a woman simply because she doesn’t “do it” with a man/husband? There seem to be a lot of conservative, heteronormative underlying assumptions here.
This one just makes me want to bang my head on the table repeatedly. It’s SO sexist! It reduces men to nothing more than overly simplistic algebraic manquations.
Women need any number of criteria met to feel loved. Men are far simpler. They need to be fed, they need to be appreciated, and they need to have sex. That is it. Really.
Anyone who’s been to an evangelical church for more than 5 minutes or watched a formulaic married couple sitcom has heard that garbage before. In reality, men and women are no different in that they want purpose. They both want to achieve dreams and goals they’ve set for themselves. We all want to be nestled comfortably in the self-actualization top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
I will grant that, yes, some men are that simple. But to generalize this to all men is just silly. Just like women, men are complex individuals with unique needs. For instance, Mike may have times when seeing my body is enough to put him in the mood. Other times, he needs me to be there for him emotionally and intellectually first. Wined and dined, if you will. I agree with Ms. Conley that men need love and appreciation, just as all people do. But, “…let the poor man see you naked,” is:
A) Not always the best way to go about that, and
B) Objectifying. My body is not compensation for him working to pay the bills and taking care of the kids he helped to create.
And it’s not like I’m sitting around all day eating bon bons. So, come on, sugar. Hang brain for mama.
I don’t have much quarrel with this one. Remembering why you married someone in the first place is always a great idea. There probably was a carefree moment before mortgage, kids, illnesses and deaths that we should all tap into. Before Mike and I had kids, there were Saturdays when we’d spend half the day laying in bed together just being.
But here’s the thing. People change. Marriages change. Life changes around you. You and your spouse are on this journey together. I would say it’s wise to tap into why you’re married to this person now. A roll in the hay with reckless abandon like when you were a shiny and new couple is awesome! But if you need to do that all the time to take yourselves away from the here and now, you may have bigger problems than not having enough sex.
4) Sex Relieves Stress
I didn’t have a witty title for this one.
YES!!!!! (Cue When Harry Met Sally throwback.)
Sex can totally relieve stress! When your body is shivering and flooded with orgasmic bliss and your chest is heaving from all the exertion of making the beast with two backs, you don’t care about a damn thing. You’re not worried about a mortgage refinance, a deadline at work, or hearing back about medical test results. You are connected and in that moment with your partner.
The problem I have with Ms. Conley’s argument is that she creates a straw man. It’s either do something destructive or bang. Ms. Conley seems to forget about other things which relieve stress.
Masturbation (if you’re too tired for the physical exertion of sex)
Grabbing a drink and catching up with friends
Something creative like painting, dancing, writing, or creating pottery while listening to Unchained Melody
Then, there are those for whom sex is stressful.
There are survivors of sexual assault and abuse.
There are people who experience pain with penetration or pain from the act, beginning to end. (With my fibro, sex isn’t always comfortable, or it downright hurts.)
There are those who feel shame during sex because of puritanical upbringings.
While I’m sure Ms. Conley didn’t mean to overlook those people, it does reveal a lack of understanding or sensitivity to these issues. Sometimes sex relieves stress; sometimes it’s not that simple.
The argument: Sex is fun.
So is playing a drinking game while watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians and drinking every time someone says something stupid. I eagerly await Ms. Conley’s follow up article about why we should do that every night.
But, seriously, I don’t really argue with this one. At the end of the day, we could all afford to let loose and knock boots a little more often. Just make sure that if you are having sex with your spouse, it’s because you want to, and not because your sex life isn’t exactly what you pictured when you were 16.