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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