Sex as a mother: another patriarchal to-do on my list?
That look in your partner's eyes that suggests naughtiness. The lurch in your stomach that screams "I just want twenty minutes to myself". Do we owe our partners sex? Does the patriarchy still demand our subservience?
A short five minute read about patriarchy, spreading our legs in a grey-zone of consensually and how our needs get lost on the way.
Now, hear me out. I am most definitely one to poke the beehive. And I am ALWAYS the one to lower the tone. So when my friend told me how she would have sex with her husband so he would stop nagging her I was completely dumbfounded.
“Why” I asked incredulously, keeping quiet on the fact that this was entirely a grey zone of consensuality and most certainly derived from the times where marriage was automatically a man’s right to “have at” his wife whenever he desired.
What followed was a long conversation about her as a woman and how being a mother had entirely changed her identity. How so? She had lost it. She had become a pawn in the patriarchy of our times.
MARRIED, MOTHER, MULE.
Saying that, I like mules. They are more patient, hardier and longer-lived than horses, and are perceived as less obstinate and more intelligent than donkeys.¹ But being one in your family means you carry the load (the mental one more specifically). Plus, and here is where the beehive is going to get some poking: it seems you have a dance card² where everyone can poke a hole into and use you for their purposes.
Mums: don’t you feel like everyone wants something from you all the time? Exactly.
A few weeks after this conversation, during a co-operation with a big parenting magazine here in Germany, a mother slid into my direct messages with the statement:
It feels like another patriarchal to-do on my list.
And my goodness, that hit me right where I needed it to. I’d like to tell you this article will take a strong stance on this extremely opinionated matter, rooted in years of female oppression. But I can’t. Because I am someone who will take both sides into consideration, empathetic to all arguments raised.
INTIMACY IS NOT A TO-DO
So, first of all: it bothered me, that she felt like intimacy with her partner was another to-do (completely disassociated from the patriarchal aspect). Whilst I fully empathise, as mothers bear the mental workload as well as the legwork most days, I mourn for her sentimentality. Ofcourse, I have not had a full-blown conversation with her but there’s a general consensus around mothers that intimacy is not their top priority as child rearing and family management devours most of our time.
But, as someone who stood before imminent divorce due to these exact reasons before, I urge you to reconsider that list of priorities.
Intimacy, pleasure and sex are not chores.
Our family life can change when we strengthen the physical bond with our partners (as applicable). See my articles on loss of lust, restructuring your life as a woman or how to freshen up your bedroom banter.
Second of all, I gulped at the term “patriarchal”. As an in-the-shadows feminist but in the open pleasure activist I abhor patriarchal systems seeking to control females due to male uncontrollable cravings.
Are we not living in 2022? Are we not moving toward gender equality? We have contraception today!
Male-dominant and male-controlling patriarchal ideology is on its way out, certainly not a trend anymore.
To associate having sex with our partner to the yay-old rites of marriage, patriarchal entitlement and the man-made duties of a wife threw me completely. I was prepared to put on my tunic and shawl, hurl myself at the stove to prepare meals for the family and brace myself for my “bedroom duties” as a serving wife.
Where did this leave me? Whilst actively discouraging myself from spreading my legs and “taking it” to please my partner, I felt compelled to find a solution (blame it on the testosterone in me).
I am 100% aware of the thousands of to-do’s on our lists as mothers. But does this attitude toward our partner and sexuality make us happy? I decided to put myself in their shoes and contemplate “what would I do?”.
BREAKING THE PATRIARCHAL SEX CYCLE
Luckily, I’ve kind of been there before! And all I can say is;
our mind is a powerful cock-blocker (insert gender-neutral version of this here).
This word “patriarchal” points a finger. It makes us believe that our partners are the ones who have rights and needs that need to be fulfilled (by us, in a perfect world). It makes us believe we are inferior in our wants and needs.
My first intuitive step would be to distance myself from the idea that my partner is the king of the house and resume a democratic family life because that is probably a more realistic version of events.
Changing my reality will most likely lead to a healthier emotional connection where I feel my needs matter too.
Ergo, if my needs are fulfilled, I will be a happier person.
Which leads me to my second to-do, if you will.
Stop believing sex is a to-do.
Sounds like a catch-22, right? Well, it doesn’t take much to realise that sex can be fulfilling. If it is not, then likely something is missing, has gone wrong or you have as of yet not discovered what turns you on, makes you hot, gets those happy hormones going. And there are so many ways to change that! See my article on female pleasure to change that, right now!
Don’t forget, a lot changed for our partners too. Suddenly they experienced a monumental shift from their partner for life to their partner for a few hours when the kids are asleep in which period you don’t want to be touched, have “stuff to do” or in general want nothing more than to lie in a foetal position and think about your life choices.
The secret to moving from a “patriarchal to-do” to a loving, intimate relationship and more space for your soul to breathe is (drum roll please): communication.
Ah, yes, I hear you sigh. Everybody’s talking at me all day and I just want five minutes of peace. I get it.
But when you get past that first proper chat after an emotional drought, it’s like riding a bike again. And everyone needs a little push to take that step, break the cycle, end a period of winter in your relationship.
So, here is your push today.
In conclusion, if having sex feels like another to-do on your list (worst of all, a patriarchal one), then it is most definitely time to have a conversation with your significant other and start discussing your wants and needs.
Nothing changes if nothing changes. For real.
Here’s a conversation starter for you:
Darling, I want us to have better sex. Can we talk about it?
Perhaps not over breakfast whilst the kids gobble their cereal, but in a quiet moment. Take the plunge: it’ll make it or break it but it will definitely cause a chain reaction.
Charles Darwin wrote:
“The mule always appears to me a most surprising animal. That a hybrid should possess more reason, memory, obstinacy, social affection, powers of muscular endurance, and length of life, than either of its parents, seems to indicate that art has here outdone nature”.
Hence, go out there and be the mule who says what it wants and reserves its dance card for the really good pokings!
PS Mules can’t have babies but let’s use it anyway cause it’s a nice metaphor for mums.
¹ Source: Wikipedia
² Source: Wikipedia – A dance card or programme du bal is used by a woman to record the names of the men with whom she intends to dance each successive dance at a formal ball.