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Having Sex Like It’s Going Out of Style

You know me, I love a good uproar on the internetz, and I know that YOU love it when I throw in my two cents at least two weeks two late – just to let the dust settle a little bit. Just kidding, I live under a rock and I only today got around to reading Erica Jong’s New York Times Op-Ed about how the “new generation of women” are just just not that into having sex.

Fascinating.

I immediately balked:  First of all, am I in this “new generation”? What exactly constitutes this alleged generation? Secondly, do I not like having sex? WHAT?! How is it even possible that this article was written? Third of all, has this woman never met a teenage girl?

Rock Marriage Proposal

image by m. janicki

And then I reeled it in. Truth: I am a twenty-six year old who is engaged to the most wonderful person ever. Truth: I have had plenty of sex with plenty of people. Enough to know that I don’t need to go around banging whomever I please anymore, and am not all that sad about it. Truth: I just think that monogamy is the most complex, interesting, and compelling thing since sliced bread. I certainly don’t think that there is anything easy or simplistic about deciding to be faithful to someone for the rest of your life.

I started early, too early. Looking back, I wish that at the time I would have thought that I was worth waiting for. I wish that I would have just chosen to skip over the first handful of people that I let lie and tell me that I was beautiful and that they would call me. However, I don’t regret having made those choices, because it gives me a really good grasp on what it feels like to be young and reckless, and make choices because you feel so badly about yourself you are willing to give yourself away to anyone who asks.

I find it fascinating that in an era where sex is EVERYWHERE, that Jong’s op-ed asserts that women are choosing instead to focus on monogamy and motherhood. I also find it mildly offensive that these choices are being deemed unfeminist, sterile, or controlled. I find it interesting because, as someone who grew up in the middle of this unclear and wide-spanning “generation,” I find that when you see naked bodies plastered all over the internet, billboards, and with sex being sold everywhere – it’s just not that exotic anymore.

I find it fascinating that I can name the number of people that I know who are in loving, healthy, long-standing relationships on two hands.

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image by oedipusphinx theJWDban

People who are in it for the long-haul, who really love one another and are willing to do anything to make it work? Totally exotic. People who find a way to bring their fantasies and sexual appetites INTO their relationships, and create sex-positive environments for themselves with loads of intimate conversation and experimentation? WOAH. I love that.  Parents who are raising a seriously awesome, grounded, and well educated new generation? I have the utmost respect for that.

When I look around at my “generation” I see lot of diversity in regards to sexuality and lifestyle choices. I admit that I see a lot of people who are choosing to marry young. I know some who have already gotten divorced and are heading in for round two. As a child of divorce, I know that some relationships are beyond saving – and that is not the end of the world. However, when I dig deep and look in my heart, I find that I am inclined towards these old-fashioned relationships values. I am not inclined towards these values because they put me back in the kitchen, bare-foot and pregnant, but because I really believe that relationships can last and can be worth fighting for.

However, I don’t believe that marriage or children or monogamy or whatever it is that “we” are seemingly doing wrong means sacrificing your sex life for security. Isn’t it possible to have a sex life and be in a monogamous relationship? 

Resources:

  1. New York Times, Is Sex Passe?
  2. Jezebel, Younger Generation Totally Over Sex, Proclaims Someone In Older Generation
  3. Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, You Are Not Your Sex Drive: The Problem With Jong
  4. The Nation, No, Erica Jong, Sex is Not Passe

9 Comments to Having Sex Like It’s Going Out of Style

  1. July 22, 2011 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I always find the stereotype or expectation that monogamy is one in the same with sexlessness to be pretty offensive. I think the beauty of being in a monogamous relationship with someone you actually like is that sex isn’t always essential, at least in my relationship. We go through periods where we have sex almost every day and times when we simply don’t do it for a couple weeks at a time, and I honestly can’t say that either time is significantly more enjoyable. Because we’re in a committed relationship and love each other– LIKE each other, too– we don’t always have to have sex to have fun. When we have dry spells, it’s okay, because we can fill that time with other things. It isn’t that sex is passe, it’s that we’re busy people. AND we don’t feel like we need to have sex for the sake of it. I think these articles are making a weird assumption that we have some obligation to have sex with one another, but that’s not true at all in a relationship. There is, as you implied, this assumption that women should be hanging around just waiting to please their partner, but that isn’t what a loving, monogamous relationship is about. Monogamy rules when you’ve got the right two people together because they can have as much sex as they want– none, lots, and any amount in between– and still be just as in love. I think as part of what I think is the generation Jong refers to, I can say that it’s likely the majority of us women in monogamous relationships still love sex and think it’s great, but we’re empowered by the bonds monogamy creates to explore our relationships in an even deeper way, too.

  2. July 22, 2011 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    I have to wonder what part sexual education plays in this.

    I mean, I’ve had 2 sexual partners in my life. 2. I’ve also dated polyamorous men. But I’ve always been incredibly careful of my sexual partners because I’m not willing to be careless with my health regarding STDs. Watching the movie “Kids” in middle school SCARED THE HELL OUT OF ME.

    We’re women growing up in a much more open sexual culture, and from a young age we’re getting SOME kind of sexual education– whether it’s abstinence only or not, and that education, regardless of the political message behind it, is educating us about the risks of sex.

    As for monogamy being sexlessness… how ridiculous! My partner’s lost count of the number of sexual partners he’s had, and I know I’m the best of all of them. So…. what’s that say about my limited sexual partners, monogamist nature, and sex life…. I think I’m pretty fucking satisfied & satisfying.

  3. Sheila's Gravatar Sheila
    July 22, 2011 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I was going to write about being offened, but the two ladies who posted before me said it perfectly. I have been with the same man since I was 16 (10 years this June!) and the only thing I feel I have sacrificed for that commitment is worry, definitely NOT sex. Our first child was born 2 weeks ago and once I’m all healed up, the hubs and I will be back in the saddle with gusto!
    I will keep my active, wonderful, marriage and family and Erica Jong can have whatever else is out there (Stds, weirdos, etc.).

  4. July 22, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I think sex is such a personal thing. How can you tell someone what is the perfect amount or whatever. I think women have enough to worry about like body image, carreer choices, babies, etc, and now we worry if we are sexual enough or having a proper amount of sex to keep us relevant. I compleatly agree with the post. I know of one or two couples in my friend circle that I actually look up to and their commitment. It is so rare and incredibly exotic! Sex is so complex in a monagamous relationship that you cannot just define it by the amount.
    Great post!

  5. July 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I think people confuse a developed relationship/friendship not just consisting of sexual energy boring. From a different perspective, I have never been in a long term relationship in my adult life and I hope I find my own special weirdo. I would like to be comfortable and trust someone enough to share all sorts of things with them, not just sexual experiences, but I would be more comfortable with someone I had a bond with. Honestly, how much time do spend in the sack anyway? Sex is very important but it isn’t the whole shabang either!

  6. July 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    “Isn’t it possible to have a sex life and be in a monogamous relationship? ”

    Um…duh!? LOL My premenopausal hormonal lack of sex drive notwithstanding, my hub and I have an awesome monogamous sex life!! ;-)

  7. July 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Whoa. Not only was I totally weirded out by Erika Jong’s article, then I google searched and read the essay her daughter wrote (which her mom published in her anthology that really, basically, she’s pimping by doing this “controversial” op-ed). They’re both just blowing hot air, saying that the things they do/ their friends do is AN ENTIRE GENERATION. OMG.

    Yeah, I’m monogamous. And have been with my husband since we were 19, which is almost, not quite most of my adult life (I’m 36). But dood. We have an awesome sex life. And I breastfed and carried my kid in a sling (the horrors!). Sex is really really really not dead. That is RIDICULOUS.

  8. July 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I read your article, Mara, nodding along in agreement. I would say that there is no standard sexual history amongst the women I know. We are all different, and our own issues have influenced the paths we’ve taken, in our sexual lives as much as anything else. I too have had a colourful sexual history, in part because of self-esteem issues. After much work, and learning more about myself, my morals and values, I choose to express myself sexually today within my monogomous relationship. It is anything but boring and I don’t feel in the least bit restricted or as if I’m missing out.

    Feminist progress has opened up opportunities for me to choose how I wish to explore my own sexuality. It may change at different points in my life and that’s fine. If I choose monogomy, then this is because it is the most appealing choice to me of a range of choices now open to me because of feminists like the author of this article.

    However, I question whether the author can even claim a feminist perspective, having read the article from the New York Times. I found her bold assumptions about young women today quite offensive. Not because of the extrapolations she seemed to make between a lack of interest in sex and reversing the progress of feminist achievements her generation had attained. (Though there is a marked difference between a lack of interest in sex per say, and a lack of interest in sleeping around, which she didn’t differentiate between.)

    It was more offensive that a supposedly intelligent female scholar chose to write an incendiary article without appearing to have bothered to base it in research. It was based on her assumptions in editing her book; a book which, the last paragraph seemed to suggest, was the principle object of this marketing tool of an article.

    Secondly – perhaps as a means of covering this lack of background work; perhaps just down to poor writing – the article reads as very confusing. It jumps from using the word ‘monogomy’ as a dirty word, to be frank, to then saying at the end that sex tends to only become boring when something else is going on. This seemed like a reasonable statement to make. However when monogomy has been slated elsewhere in the article as essentially contributing to moving the equality agenda backwards, any sense it did make is rather sadly lost.

    I hope that there is no need for us to choose our standpoint and call ourselves feminist. We are just people. Humanist, if you will. If we truly wish to treat other people in an equally respectful manner, that is.

    Unfortunately, this article seemed to be another case of one woman pushing another (whole generation!) underwater to keep herself afloat. To which I’d say f**k it; I’ll do my own thing, thanks! ;-)

  9. July 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    I say: Hear, hear!

    How does monogamy = not having sex? & how can Jong have the authority to speak for an entire “generation” of women?

    Truth: I just think that monogamy is the most complex, interesting, and compelling thing since sliced bread. I certainly don’t think that there is anything easy or simplistic about deciding to be faithful to someone for the rest of your life.
    Amen. ♥

  1. By on July 24, 2011 at 10:49 pm
  2. By on July 30, 2011 at 7:14 pm
  3. By on December 20, 2011 at 4:37 pm

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Welcome! I’m Mara.

I’m Mara Glatzel. I’m an intuitive coach and writer. I guide women home to themselves and teach them to create lives brimming with supreme self-care. read more
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