The not-so-unexpected challenge of new mothers: Dealing with entitled men

'horny husbands'

New mother? Feeling stressed or challenged due to the fact that you grew then expelled a human being out of your body and now have to take care of it day and night for many more years to come? Well, that’s not all! There is yet another stress you mustn’t forget (baby brain is no excuse, ladies!): males and the ever-urgent needs of their dicks.

In an article at The Sydney Morning Herald, writer Jenna Price reveals that new research shows our sex lives disappear when we have a newborn. Gasp! I mean, can you think of anything worse?? You literally just pushed a whole person out of your vagina, and now are trying to ensure it stays alive, 24/7, probably barely have time to eat, sleep, or bathe, but what you really need to concern yourself with is the lack of dick up in you.

Spoiler alert! How often they are being penetrated is not a concern for mothers of newborn babies! Believe it or not, they have more pressing concerns. This is only a concern for men… Pardon me, “horny husbands,” as the headline describes them.

Researchers surveyed more than 200 parents in North America whose babies were between three and 12 months, and found that “nearly all new parents are very concerned about their sex lives.” The fact that the only reason the women were worried about their sex lives was because they were worried their male partners would feel neglected (read: their male partners are whining and complaining, or even threatening to cheat or leave, and it is stressful to be on the other end of that even when you don’t have a newborn) was presented as being entirely beside the point.

Price explains that based on the survey, “the top concern for women” was found to be “frequency of intercourse after childbirth and the changes in body image and its impact on sexual activity.” In other words, women are pressured into reproducing, by society, by their families, or by their husbands (or a fun combination of all three!), then are made to feel bad about the impact giving birth has had on their bodies. I guess the trick for women is to make babies, be super nurturing to the babies, don’t fuck up the babies (warnig: this one is a trick — pretty much all moms are failures as moms), but also continue to perform the role of sexy fuckable sex thing! It’s no big deal — we’ve all seen how good celebrities are at this.

Price spoke to one woman who told her, “My partner took it to heart that we were allowed to have sex six weeks after birth, and wanted to try as soon as possible.”

Like, actually go to hell you selfish prick.

The woman went on: “He was so keen and to be honest I wasn’t very interested… at first it was very weird and uncomfortable.”

But hey, I mean, sex isn’t really about female pleasure anyway, right? Sex is important because sex is for dudes, and all dude things are inherently of value, unlike lady things, which don’t really matter because, at the end of the day, we are just empty vessels put on this earth to insert and expel various things into and out of our vaginas.

“For her,” Price explains, “sex was right at the bottom of the priority list, way below sleeping, eating and having showers.” Weird! Do you think this could possibly be because these things are important whereas men’s dick-feelings are not?

The research says health care providers should be talking about this issue with new parents, but I’m really curious to know how that conversation would go.

Price talked to Desiree Yap, a gynecologist at Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne, who says, “We need to be telling everyone that it is normal to be worried about it and telling [expectant parents] more about what to expect.”

Does it ever occur to any of these researchers and doctors to say, “You know what? It’s ok to not want to have sex. You are allowed to not want sex and to say no to sex. Your partner will live.”

Like, just warning couples that they may feel “worried” about sex really doesn’t help. Heterosexual women already know what it’s like to feel worried about whether their male partners are sexually satisfied and are able to effectively sexualize their bodies based on what they’ve learned from porn culture. That’s basically what we’re socialized to feel worried about our whole lives.

Another woman, pregnant with her second child, said she was “relieved her partner doesn’t have much of a sex drive.”

Price explains, “They’ve had a hell of a time what with IVF for months on end, morning sickness, vomiting and the birth was accompanied by a second degree tear that even after six months was causing pain.”

The woman told Price she was grateful not to have to “fend off horny husbands” like so many of her friends, and added this lack of pressure from her husband was “one less societal expectation to try and handle.” Between worrying about breastfeeding, returning to work, and “the image of what a body looks like after childbirth,” this woman had enough on her plate.

Anita Elias, head of the sexual medicine and therapy clinic at Monash Health, told Price that she tries to counsel couples that “sexual problems, especially in the short term,” are normal. She adds, “If they are addressed at the time, then it can be resolved. If they are not, what should be a short term problem turns into a long term problem.”

But why is the fact that women don’t want penetrative sex — especially after giving birth — assumed to be a “problem?” I mean, it’s clear to everyone involved — from researchers, to doctors, to sex therapists — that the “problem” here is not women, but men. They are the ones with the “problem,” not women. And why must men’s problems be our problems?

Price concludes with a story from a woman she claims had “no trouble.” The woman tells her that sex was better after her first child, saying, “Obviously first time after was a tiny bit painful — but then again, I only waited five weeks.”

No trouble! Just grin and bear it, ladies.

I wonder if any of these people ever considered the fact that none of this should be a consideration for women at all. If men need to ejaculate, they know how to take matters into their own hands. That women are expected to engage in painful sex they don’t desire (and considered a “problem” if they don’t do it) demonstrates in no uncertain terms how normalized misogyny is in our society.

These aren’t horny husbands, these are rapey husbands. And they should be told as much, not only by their exhausted wives, but by researchers, medical professionals, therapists, and the media.

Fuck your neutrality — this is rape culture we’re talking about.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • melissa

    I remember reading this Jezebel article top voted comment from someones like a year ago…

    ” In addition I have vaginismus so sex is also painful (despite lots of lube.) Right now 100% of the sex we have is maintenance sex and while that sucks, it’s all I can really do. I actually start to have nightmares that my husband is going to divorce me if we go too long between having sex (and the longest has been over a year during the time I was gestating and nursing our daughter)…”

    “…but to even have sex I need to be completely focused on my breathing and on getting my pelvic floor muscles to relax, it’s painful and stressful. I could absolutely be celibate if I was single, you are spot on that it’s a lot of work. This is why I will always gun for a Viagra for women…”

    “… Sex was so painful I resented my husband for even touching me and it took a heavy toll on our relationship. Eventually he confronted me with his feelings and I realized that like it or not, sex is a part of a healthy relationship (unless neither partner wants it) and that our relationship was worth pelvic floor physical therapy and maintene sex. And honestly, it’s not all about him. Doing PT and making the effort to endure sex (sad that’s how I have to put it but were working on it) has made me feel much, much better as well- even if I’m not having orgasms. Have you confronted your wife with your feelings? I am 100% sympathetic to her situation but there are ways, even if they suck like PT, to ease sexual pain…”

    .”..My husband could probably have sex every day, I can only manage it a few times a week and not at all during my cycle (luckily he’s not into that anyway.) But my need to abstain was not more important than his need to indulge and so I found a balance. Not to mention sex doesn’t always need to be sexually gratifying to be gratifying in general. There are nights I get really hurt and have to sit in a hot tub for awhile but just the act of intimacy and closeness has made me feel happy. And trust me, I’m not pretending to be a martyr.”

    It almost seems like everything i ever read about marriages keep reinforcing why I’d probably never get married. I mean fuck,not only that someone’s not enjoying the sex, but to be in physical pain and still feel you must let your husband stick his dick in you a couple of times a week all out of the fear of him leaving you, sounds utterly miserable.

    • Morag999

      Reading those Jezebel comments makes me want to wail and break things and run around saying over and over: “Don’t you see? Don’t you SEE what’s going on here?” You know, like a “hysterical woman.”

      And, yet, this is normal for women partnered with men and for women and girls generally. How to cope with male supremacy? Learn to endure suffering, learn to build up your tolerance to pain, try to keep men happy, try to avoid provoking male violence. Be a good sport, be agreeable, pleasant, sexy.

      Most important, reframe these precautions you take against male violence as your own choice, your own “sexuality.” And when you deny your own boredom, disinterest, humiliation and pain to mollify men, to keep their punishments at bay, and this somewhat stable state of affairs makes you feel just a little safer, call this feeling “happiness” or “love.”

      It’s a fucking racket.

      Thank you, Meghan, for your consistent bravery in naming the omnipresent threat of rape, and other punishments, that women are subject to when they say “no” to men. Even — or especially — to the men who “love” them. For knowing that they’ll call you crazy, but speaking the truth anyway.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Oh my godddddd that comment is so fucking awful!! This poor woman actually thinks enduring painful sex is ‘part of a healthy relationship’??? I hate this world.

        (And thanks for your comment, Morag)

    • anne

      This reminded me of what I went through with my first husand, albeit in a different context. It made me sick and shocked, reading it, before I realised just how much I can sadly identify. I too like Morag want to smash the world right now.

  • Tinfoil the Hat

    Oh HELL yes.

  • Pat Wilms

    Rape culture isn’t a thing. It is a myth, just like patriarchy.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Byeeeeee

    • Lucy Wainwright

      MRA is like the yapping of little dogs. Constant and meaningless.

    • Hierophant2

      Oh okay. That’s why most rapes are prosecuted, why people universally speak against rapists, why spousal rape has always been illegal, and why we don’t glorify rape in pornography. Oh wait…

  • Karla Gjini

    No surprising, still upsetting.

  • Lucia Lola

    My sisters both told me their husbands tried to and were thrown out of the bedroom for attempting sex soon after they gave birth. My two sisters-in-law said they felt guilty. Guilty!

    I can’t even begin to process the idea of feeling a need to accommodate a partner sexually after birth. That these men don’t have an iota of self awareness is baffling. And for the peanut gallery that always seems to lurk around here, yes, I know not ALL. But enough to have studies drawn up and enough to have articles published presenting it as a “problem” of the new mothers.

    Ugh.

  • Meghan Murphy

    And, like, her husband’s ok with that!?!?

    “My need to abstain was not more important than his need to indulge.”

    WHY?? Why is his pleasure more important than her pain?

  • Meghan Murphy

    It’s almost like everything men know about women they learned from porn!

  • melissa

    i was appalled reading this crap. misogynistic libfems are exactly what pushed me to became a radical feminist.

  • Morag999

    What part of “fuck your neutrality” didn’t you understand? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

    Men need an education, alright. Namely, that “female” and “human” are not distinct categories, but one and the same — and all that entails.

    • Cassandra

      Glad you and radwonka responded to that f*ckwittery. I can’t with the even.

  • I lived this, complete with ex-hubby shacking up with 20 yo office co-worker while I was still nursing our 8 mo daughter. While I was enrollled in a #STEM phd :/

    But WEV, it made me what I am today, fearless (mostly).

    • Just Passing Through

      I’m so glad I’m done with men. (as partners)

    • Cassandra

      I’m sorry this happened to you, Orla. Your husband was not only a complete asshole to you, obviously, but he was also a sexual predator, as the judgement center of the brain of a 20 year old girl is not finished developing and no match for a grown man. Glad you got rid of him!!!

  • Cassandra

    And from what I understand though, vaginas bounce back at some point. Men are ignorant.

  • Morag999

    What a disgusting man. I don’t care how many domestic chores he does — he’s a john: “I’ll do your laundry for you, but in exchange, I get to penetrate you when I feel like it. Fair is fair!”

    The woman who wrote Girl, Interrupted –Susanna Kaysen — wrote another fascinating memoir called The Camera My Mother Gave Me. It details the time in her life when she experienced severe, treatment-resistant vaginal pain.

    One of the things she found out, which many women already know, but which is so hard to face, is this: your partner/lover is a potential rapist.

    And the way to find out if he’s a potential rapist is to say, not necessarily just once or twice, but many times over, until he runs out of patience: “sorry, we can’t fuck; it hurts me too much.”

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes, this ‘sex is taboo’ thing liberals use in order to push pornification as liberation is garbage. Sex isn’t taboo — we are told to center our entire lives around sex.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Oh seriously???? I had no idea who she was! I just assumed she was some rando, ignorant reporter. This makes SOOO much sense!

    • Georgia95Luciana Todesco

      Yes, and she’s tight with Amnesty Australia members.

      Here’s Price on her DestroyTheJoint FB page. Many of the comments are by members of Scarlet Alliance, the self-proclaimed peak sexworker body here in Australia. They are funded by the government. They lobby for decriminalisation. A government-funded lobby group–go figure.

      Other commenters like Chris Johnson are from the Australian Sex Party. Yes, we have a registered political party, funded by taxpayers, that lobbies for the sex industry.

      There’s even a supporting comment from Pye Jacobson, owner of shares in a strip club. Like she’s going to care about prostituted women 🙁

      https://www.facebook.com/DestroyTheJoint/posts/912272165487195

  • Morag999

    Haha!

  • Morag999

    Yeah, women doing housework is an everyday, boring thing, not worth mentioning. But a man? Nominate him for man of the year.

    No wonder you didn’t want to talk about your sadistic ex doing household chores. How could you stand to hear him publicly praised when he was so cruel and frightening in private?

    There a few things that mess with a woman’s head more than hearing her friends/family admire her tormentor. It’s just more crazy-making, and so, so lonely, which feeds into the isolation, making it all the more easy for him to take the abuse further … ugh, just terrible.

    • Liz

      yes! “he’s so niiiice, how could you leave him?”

      i think this is a social trap for women. especially when things start out well…you are so happy, you think he’s wonderful, you tell everyone. then he outmaneuvers you…surprise, he’s awful, but who would believe you, he’s happy to remind you…

  • radwonka

    We live in such a pornified society than I wonder if sex, respectful sex, ever existed as a norm. It seems like an utopia at this point, the objectification propaganda is fucking agressive and we have no where to go, and on top of that you have men who have the nerve to want more smh. “sex is hidden” is probably the biggest joke of the year.

  • Morag999

    Male and female are sexes, not genders, and there are obvious biological differences. Also, female sexual/reproductive capacities are exploited by men, which creates more difference: I.e., creates a caste system. Pretending there are no differences — both natural and socially constructed — is a great big problem.

    Basic human rights overlap, but are not identical. Neutrality — which in practice assumes male is the human standard — is how women get screwed over. Example: “consent” being the moral standard by which our society decides whether one party has harmed or exploited another.

    Neutrality does not serve oppressed classes very well. Much of the time, it erases or obscures the conditions under which they (females, poor people, racialized people) make ostensible choices.

    Fuck neutrality. And fuck “education” too. I mean, if men want to get more educated about women’s bodies, childbirth, etc, they’re quite welcome to do that. But let’s don’t bullshit that education is a solution. That implies that what men do to women in private is born of ignorance. That it’s a mistake. It isn’t.

  • Cassandra

    “The whole world is a miss universe pageant to men.”

    Yup.

    • be kind

      I don’t want to be That Feminist, but I think I will anyway. #NotAllMen. This is the kind of subject about which I don’t want to tarnish the good guys.

      • Jeanne Deaux

        You don’t actually know which ones are the good guys. So how about drop the hashtag.

        (No. No really, you don’t. They will surprise you every time. Stop defending them and protect yourself.)

  • Cassandra

    This video isn’t very good quality but gosh I remember how hard I laughed the first time I saw this.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyugVgNi6Wg

  • Cassandra

    Well, they are socialized to be ignorant about women’s actual biology to some extent, which is what I meant. They don’t have to know anything about us, really, not the way we have to know them in order to survive. But as Morag said, the way they treat women in general is not a product of ignorance. Men in general know exactly what they do to women.

  • Judith Bell

    Thanks Cassandra! And I definitely second your point!

  • cocopop133

    Heck it could make a fine tattoo, that Pyramid.

  • Gwenyn

    Seriously though! I had completely assimilated the narrative that blue balls are unbearable and painful, so the first few times my first boyfriend and I were making out I always insisted he finished. He always told me that yes, it was uncomfortable, but it didn’t matter too much if we were in such a hurry that both of us couldn’t finish.
    i know it’s kind of strange, but meeting him and interacting with him was an important part of me walking away from liberal feminism. I wanted to be the ‘cool’ girlfriend who is okay with her boyfriend watching porn, going to strip clubs, trying anal for him, etc., but he did not want any of that. I realized I did not want to be or do any of that stuff either, I just thought I did because porn culture was so ingrained into me.

  • Hierophant2

    “If men need to ejaculate, they know how to take matters into their own hands.”

    *raises an eyebrow* eh? ehhh????

  • Hierophant2

    No, education is not gonna change anything. This is the liberal ideal of “if we just educate people who disagree with me, they’ll change their minds.” That’s not how reality works. This is an issue of entitlement, not ignorance.

    • cvxxx

      Entitlement? Or social contract. Most men have little understanding so that in the age of urban dwellers is not that surprising. Then of course we do not have complete sex education either(US).

  • Hierophant2

    They could at least make it more patriotic and paint their balls red and white as well.

  • Just Passing Through

    I posted my comment before I saw this..woops!

    • Cassandra

      I knew what you meant! 😉

  • be kind

    I don’t understand why so many women read about this, know about this, and still have babies.I had a BF who could hardly wipe his own ass. But he was very upset that I didn’t want to have children. We split up, and months later I was getting calls from creditors for him because he couldn’t even handle a checking account without my help. How the HELL was he going to help with a baby? Women need to be more realistic.

  • Just trying to Understand

    Don’t forget about white supremacy.

  • Robin Goodfellow

    The solution is very clear. Women need to boycott marriage and children.

  • Robin Goodfellow

    They have no right to complain about the looseness of their wife’s vag. Don’t get her pregnant in the first place.

  • cvxxx

    Men need more than that. Honesty really is very good to start empathy. One of my friends has that issue. The difference was she told me straight off the first night.
    Many men have been exposed to bait and switch. Those are going to have a difficult time believing.
    Yes, pain can really put one off. NSU can be a killer as the pain and fear build in the mind. Many men never have any pain associated with sex. Someday there will be a way to link the brains so each feels what the other feels that will be a real changer.

  • cvxxx

    Thanks for the URL. I read the comments and there was a lot of agreement about maintenance sex from both men and women. Our society tells males that they are supposed to want sex at anytime. Unfortunately too many people believe this myth. Yes, Women buy into it too. When in school, dating or that first career job,or any combination there of. It may seem like that (the other wants sex all the time and is ignoring the other’s feelings). Then think a couple who is not living together might see each other any where from daily to weekends only.
    Myth busting would be very good.

  • shy virago

    This is great.
    Cheers Meghan, for telling it straight up – ‘rapey husbands’!

    If we lived in an egalitarian world, birth would be a miracle, and the new mother a miracle maker!
    The natural role of the new father would be making her comfortable, making sure she sleeps, making her
    happy, and doing the extra work because all he had to do was watch. Men would be socialized to
    take care of themselves, and sex would only be when she was dying for it.

    This brings up the definition of sex as penetration – what if sex meant two people assisting each other to orgasm w/o penetration? Endless nights of foreplay, except it would be called sex instead.

  • alex

    You had sex days after giving birth! That’s terrible! Im actually a sex worker but have always felt neutral about it. Ive had a good run with it but i know that’s not the case with everyone. The “upscale ” sex workers are the minority.

  • Lathyrus

    “become” women and force your way into our private spaces and tell us to shove our “cis” privilege”
    That is transphobic bullshit.

    I agree with the overall thrust of what you’re saying, but I cannot condone your disgusting transphobia.

    • cocopop133

      Oh. See, some of us don’t buy in on the cis stuff. Just thought you should know.

    • Just Passing Through

      oo you told me! I will sit back down now and stfu and know my place so my mere existence as a female bodied person doesn’t “trigger” you. So sick of you guys and so over it… I couldn’t give 2 tiny fucks what you think. I do not care if you condone what I said I am not asking for your approval…

    • Just Passing Through

      and why don’t you take a little peek at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Wc6-HikFz4 Women are sick and tired of being shouted at by you guys. You are bullies. (most of you)

      • Lathyrus

        “Why are the harms they do to us beyond reproach?”
        I have a genuine question here: what harms have trans-women done to cis-women?

        • Just Passing Through

          Your question is in no way “genuine” as you have a wealth of knowledge and documentation as a reader of Feminist Current at your fingertips. I linked you to a website that has long been documenting the HARMS done to women (Terfisaslur.com) by these hateful misogynistic MEN. Why don’t you visit some of the transwomen from that site that threaten women with rape and death threats and ask them why they do what they do instead of coming onto a radical feminist website that is KNOWN for being gender critical and chastising and gaslighting women? And why don’t you stop being a MISOGYNISTIC BIGOT! Seriously..I have nothing else to say to you. If you don’t know what is happening to women in regards to this issue then it is up to you to get educated but you don’t strike me as someone who genuinely wants to listen to what women have to say.

    • Just Passing Through

      I mean seriously, what on earth makes you think I care what you think, or what you condone? Are you, special or something?

    • Just Passing Through

      I cannot condone your judgemental and haughty sense of superiority… come down a few notches why dontcha?

    • Just Passing Through

      I will never call myself “cis” and do not bow down and hang my head in shame at the “transphobic” label that is thrown at anyone who does not hold up trans dogma or for simply pointing out the abuse done to us by these men. I do not let the trans agenda define my reality. Nice try though. You must be mistaking us for liberal fun-fems… sorry, wrong site.

      • Lathyrus

        No one is asking you to be ashamed of being cis, and I don’t know where you could possibly have got the idea that anyone was.

        What you should be ashamed of is being a transphobic bigot.

        What is it you think that trans-women are going to do to you? They do not, as a group, hold institutional power; they do not, as a group, hold cultural power.

        When men are misogynistic, they have the power to control our lives and our bodies through sexist legislation. When men attack women, their cultural power means that we are less likely to be believed than they. Trans-women do not have that power. Quite the reverse, cis-people have that power over trans-people.

        • Just Passing Through

          “They do not, as a group, hold institutional power” they are MEN you fuckwit! Of course they hold institutional power. They do not for one second loose their institutional power or male privilege just because they put on a dress and some lippy… why do you think even the highest office in the land does their bidding? Title IX is even being rewritten for them….They are MEN! Wake up for crying out loud. You are so brainwashed it’s sad…. and EXTREMELY ignorant. That you do not even understand what women have to lose from this is the saddest part of all.. carry on with your delusions.

  • MJ

    Another reason many women aren’t choosing motherhood…geez.

  • Just Passing Through

    Amen to that!…. however I feel we are talking to a wall … I feel quite certain Lathyrus is one of those stick the fingers in the ears and go la-la-la-la types when it comes to saying ANYthing critical of transwomen. Lalalala I can’t heeeear you lalala!!

  • Lathyrus

    The difference between misandry and transphobia is about power differentials.

    An argument I’m sure you’re familiar with is that “misandry” doesn’t exist because women hating men as a group has no impact on their lives outside the interpersonal sphere. Women do not have the legislative power to limit men’s access to healthcare, women do not have the cultural power to drive down men’s wages and increase women’s wages. So misogyny has a massive impact on women’s lives in every arena, while “misandry” is a man feeling sad because women aren’t catering to his every whim.

    Similarly, if every trans-person in the world hated cis-people as a group, it would make no difference at all to the lives of cis-people: they would still be able to vote, work, travel, go to the bathroom totally unencumbered by the hatred of these hypothetical “cisphobes”. But when cis-people discriminate against trans-people, trans-people’s lives are materially affected in those areas. Which means that transphobia is a real problem, and “cisphobia” is you being sad because some people don’t like you.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “Similarly, if every trans-person in the world hated cis-people as a group, it would make no difference at all to the lives of cis-people: they would still be able to vote, work, travel, go to the bathroom totally unencumbered by the hatred of these hypothetical ‘cisphobes.'”

      And what if said “cis people” were simply women? No difference? Totally harmless?

    • Jeanne Deaux

      If you are going to throw around big terms like cis and trans, how about using them correctly, you bloody bore.

      In chemistry, cis- and trans- denote different presentations of THE SAME MOLECULE.

      A transwoman is not actually a female. Therefore cannot be a different presentation of a female. Therefore calling a man in womanface “transwoman” is nonsense.

      After all, a trans-fat is not a carbohydrate that identifies as a fat. It’s a frigging fat, just in a different molecular shape.

      I can tell all you idiotic postmodernist shit-fitters are English majors or something equally scientifically useless by the way you go on about this, about not knowing what a person’s sex actually means and about thinking that sex is somehow “assigned” at birth. Crack a real science book, grow up, and stop harassing actual women on the internet.