After baby, the things you find sexy definably change. Where once you fantasized about a strong man opening a jam jar then tossing you over their shoulder, or a woman hacking a log in two with her homemade axe then interlacing her hands behind your neck while you listen to Seal, new moms often find that the hottest thing a partner can do is hang out all those Dr. Brown's bottle nipples to dry on the flower stalk rack, or affix a wall-mount to that new chest of drawers, or discuss politics with nuance and understanding. The disconnect between the concerns of supposed "erotica" for women (like, say, being spirited away to a forest and robbed of your mortality by an overbearing vampire boyfriend, or getting into BDSM for the kitchen backsplashes and expensive shoes) and the care, help, and attention women actually want was the seed of a humor piece that went viral on McSweeney's earlier this year by Brooke Preston, Caitlin Kunkel, Carrie Wittmer, and Fiona Taylor. New Erotica for Feminists: Satirical Fantasies of Love, Lust, and Equal Pay is now a hard, throbbing, satirical title from Penguin Random House, and available from all the sexiest places you like to get books. It is funny and smart and will put you in a good mood.
Romper touched base with one of the authors, Brooke Preston (who you might have come across on these here webpages), to chat all things erotica and baby, sometimes at the same time. The overwhelming takeaway was that there needs to be more room in the popular imagination for things women actually like. In bed and otherwise. And also Ruth Bader Ginsberg can never never die.
Romper: Motherhood and erotica sound like they come from separate universes — is there some overlap?
Preston: As we were writing the parenting section of the book (which admittedly was one of the hardest!), we did struggle to initially combine some of the elements of parenting with elements of erotica. After all, NO ONE is trying to eroticize children!! But as two of us are parents and we all know how hard parenting is, it was important for us to make parents and moms in particular feel seen and empowered.
So we really had to brainstorm on the things that would feel like a major release for tired feminist parents, so much so that it would feel sexual. Someone noticing you need help with your stroller when the elevator is broken and many stairs loom in front of you, a salesperson who hands you a magically flowy yet flattering top no matter what stage of postpartum you are, a babysitter who ably watches your children for a fair wage while you and your partner go see the new Star Wars movie that’s just Laura Dern in space. We found that the most erotic elements tended to involve receiving the basic help and dignity you need without having to weep to get it.
I got the "green light" to resume sexual activity from my doctor after baby, but you couldn't pay me $5,000 to ride a horse at this point. Is the green light a hard green, or more of a traffic cop wave?
We think of it more as a “CAUTION” sign, as in “CAUTION: I will claw at you if you touch me right now, I’m so tired and trying to figure out my new body, I am the only one who gives any of the lights.”
That said, if you’re feeling sexy and into it and want to go for it the day you get that medical greenlight, we bow to and celebrate you. But guilt and pressure isn’t erotic. Talk to your partner honestly about how you’re feeling mentally and physically and tell them — without apology — what you need from them. You just brought a child into the world, a little honest talk will be a breeze by comparison.
The only fantasy I can conjure right now is of the anesthesiologist's face right before he punctured my spinal cord with his sweet sweet needle. Is it okay to picture that during sex?
Oh wow yes, epidurals plunging deep inside? Highly erotic. (And yes, we see you and celebrate you, too, natural birth moms.) We are fully on the side of anything you need to feel sexual, let your damn mind go there.
Can erotica co-exist with a life of children crawling into your bed at 5 a.m.?
We think our kind of erotica can! We wrote the book to focus on the things we wish we were getting, like parental support at work, the ability to breastfeed in public or whenever it’s most convenient without prying eyes and snide comments. We did write a vignette about 12 uninterrupted hours of sleep, which is very elusive, but hey, erotica helps you open your mind up and dream!
That said, we totally believe that everyone is different and there’s not one “normal.” Some couples may just get right back into their rhythm (in our experience, this closely correlates to how well the baby sleeps and naps... or doesn’t) or even experience a new passionate chapter. But dry spells or less wild or spontaneous habits are also super normal- — lots and lots of women experience hormonal or post-birth conditions that can make sex uncomfortable or painful and for some reason that’s considered taboo or unsexy to discuss. Instead, let’s try and focus on what forms of intimacy can work in this season, not just to give our partner what they need, but so our needs and desires are met. Mamas need orgasms too. (Runs off to make and immediately sell out of 10,000 tees with this printed on it).
Is the relationship of Coach and Tami Taylor erotica, yes/no, and please offer support for your argument.
Literally everything about Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, individually and ESPECIALLY together is pure erotica, even though Julie Taylor is the worst character in television history and is hell bent on ruining their perfect banter.
Yes to seeing more couples onscreen who actually love and want each other, in addition to supporting each other’s professional goals and realizing that marriage is a give and take of who’s in front.
Our approach to parental sex lives: clear eyes, full naps, can’t lose.
Can children sense the slow return of marital relations, and is it true they are hell bent on thwarting it?
Yes, this is why they were sent to Earth, as we understand it. We would send them back, but their heads smell delicious.
Are ankles erogenous, or will they do while I get my mojo back?
We’ve watched enough ballet content to believe that ankles are a WAY undervalued erogenous zone. Here’s our rec: watch the documentaries Ballet 422 and Restless Creature. Then treat yourself to a showing of the seminal film Center Stage. Look at your ankles. You have the same basic ankle as those ballerinas. That’s pretty sexy and you’re doing your best.
Sexy mental redirects for when you associate your boobs with one of those god awful bovine pumps?
Remind yourself you’re a powerful goddess literally keeping another human being alive and nourished with your fertile, strong body. Nothing sexier than that. (Except Tom Hardy and Idris Elba but that doesn’t really apply here).
What is the sexiest thing a partner can do during flu season?
Get their flu shot without being reminded. Mega sexy bonus points if they know who your child’s pediatrician is, make the appointment and take your child to get THEIR flu shot. Encourage all their friends to get one and be able to do so while clearly explaining the concept of herd immunity.When you inevitably get the flu anyway DESPITE getting the flu shot they very second it was available, they never question the degree to which you feel like you’re dying and take on all household and childcare responsibilities while you moan in your bed.
Is there any way to ~rebrand~ whatever it was my partner saw during birth?
Yes, just say you had an “internal fire sale” to make way for your exciting new body inventory. (Yes you’re just talking about breast milk, stretch marks and whatever bits of hell goes into those asian-pear-net underwear they give you at the hospital, but this terminology will remind them of shopping for TVs at Best Buy and will make them feel distracted, warm and happy.)
New Erotica for Feminists: Satirical Fantasies of Love, Lust, and Equal Pay by Brooke Preston, Caitlin Kunkel, Carrie Wittmer, and Fiona Taylor is out now from Plume.