Writer Erica Jong would have us believe, based on her last article in The New York Times, that our generation -- the children of the Baby Boomers -- does not value sex because we treat it differently than they do. We believe in monogamy and waiting and perhaps in pursuing more chaste ideals first. This doesn't mean we undervalue sex, though.
I say we may value it more.
In her essay, she says that this new generation has anesthetized sex via the Internet, held monogamy up as the ideal, and finally turned into such involved mothers that sexuality has taken a back seat. Jong says:
Sex for women leads to madness in attics, cancer, and death by fire. Better to soul cycle and write cookbooks. Better to give up men and sleep with one’s children. Better to wear one’s baby in a man-distancing sling and breast-feed at all hours so your mate knows your breasts don’t belong to him. Our current orgy of multiple maternity does indeed leave little room for sexuality. With children in your bed, is there any space for sexual passion? The question lingers in the air, unanswered.
On behalf of my generation of mothers and women, I say it's simply not true. It may be true that we seem more conservative to someone like Jong (born in 1942, just before the Baby Boom in 1946), but it's also true that we saw the follies of our parents' generation.
I don't remember a time when AIDS didn't exist and, for me, getting married at a young age and having my family was a goal because I learned early that fertility doesn't last forever. I value raising my children naturally, and yes, I sometimes co-sleep and I did breastfeed them both for more than one year, but it never detracted from my sex life.
That is the part she is missing.
There is no backlash against the Baby Boomers' values. I have taken the openness about sex and extended that into my marriage. I may not have a 1970s era open marriage, but I do have a very open attitude toward sex and my sexuality and so do 90 percent of my close friends who are also in my generation.
Any time one makes a generalized statement about a generation, there will be backlash. And certainly one person's experience (mine) isn't the norm, but this cry from the Baby Boomers, this idea that we have rejected their values when it comes to sexuality, is somewhat annoying and quite common.
Isn't it possible that we aren't rejecting it at all, but rather reshaping it into something better? Where did all that free love get our parents? Because what I remember about the late 1980s was AIDS, divorce, and latch-key kids. Maybe if they had valued monogamy more, there would have been less of that.
Monogamy isn't monotony and it can work. Even with a baby in a sling and another one nursing in the bed beside us. Maybe we aren't prudes at all. Maybe we're just expressing a more meaningful version of the sexual openness the Boomers taught us.
Do you think our generation is more prude-ish?
Image via derekGavey/Flickr