Erica Jong, known best for her book “Fear of Flying” is waxing poetic in the Sunday New York Times about what has happened to the sex lives of the younger generation. According to Jong, younger women are yearning for the nostalgia of a 50’s era happily ever after notion of monogamy, marriage and motherhood. Jong says it’s a kind of rebellion and a desire for control. I find Jong’s piece startling as I had been reading something else in the New York Times of late, a cultural acknowledgement that monogamy isn’t working quite as well as most of us thought it should - reported in Married With Infidelities by Mark Oppenheimer.
I came late to my own true sexually. Just like many of the young women of today, I started life obsessed with marriage, monogamy, and motherhood when I was in my twenties – this is thirty years ago. I don’t think that I was rejecting sexuality – as I remember it way back then – it was pretty good. No – it wasn’t swinging from the chandelier sex – but it was good sex. I was not alone then – all of my girlfriends in their 20’s and 30’s were on the same exact path. This is hardly a new phenomena even if Erica Jong is just noticing this with her 30 year old daughter.
To me, a seasoned fertility advocate and founder of the American Fertility Association – this is simply not new. In fact I will go further and say that this is in great part due to biology and the culture that most of us are raised in. Most women intuitively know that they need stability to bring children into this world (remember the famous “It takes a village” line?).
Unfortunately, most women don’t have a village to help them raise a child – so they count on monogamy and marriage to help them do the job.
Today’s woman not only doesn’t have a village to help raise her child, but she is usually working a full time job – and hoping that her husband will carry some of the child rearing work. After the love, the marriage, and the baby carriage – what we often end up with is exhausted women with little children, full time jobs, lots of pressure and not much of a sex life. I don’t believe that this generation of women are much different than my generation of women – sexuality wanes when you are a working mother without a village and a tired overwhelmed husband.
I also believe that women in their child bearing years are naturally more focused on marriage, monogamy and having children. For so many of us it is simply wired into our DNA. To me, the really interesting sexuality story is what happens to women in their forties and fifties. That is where the juice really lies.
Once those children are raised – in that fabulous period in women’s lives, that I call “The Shift before The Shift” which arrives somewhere between peri-menopause and menopause – all bets are off! Those same girlfriends who I grew up with, sharing scraped knees, high school graduations, wedding, motherhood, monogamy and children were now winking at the bus driver! They were no longer content being boxed up in a life of boy scouts, the PTA, and high stress jobs. Now these women wanted sex – sex like they had never had it before. Yes – Erica – now they were ready for “Fear of Flying Sex”!
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