I remember when I first became a mother at 20 years old I felt this expectation to dress more matronly, certainly less suggestively sexual. I had copped a lot more hostile street harassment whilst pregnant, criticising me if I showed any flesh in public, even though it was summer. Society was doubling down on the pressure to ‘cover up’ now I was a mother and I felt very at odds with that expectation.
Mother on mother slut shaming was pretty rampant too. The mothers and babies group I attended was full of bland colours and ample covering from the chin down. All that was talked about was child development, nursing and homemade organic baby food. It certainly was not a safe space to discuss how we would nurture our sexuality as we recovered from birth and coped with breastfeeding. Dressing conservatively was so against my own inclinations and nature that it lasted perhaps two months, at most, as I made a futile attempt to fit in with them. I was already an outsider in the group being working class and so young to boot. So when I resumed dressing however I god damned wanted, their disapproval quickly turned to disdain. Plunging cleavage and faux snake skin rainbow boots did not fit their uniform requirements.
I was very isolated as a mother for the first couple of years. Getting into online amateur porn when my kiddo was 3 was a lifeline for me. Not only did it fund me to first get my VCE and get into University, it also began to heal the wounds that the severance of my motherhood and my sexuality had caused. In making amateur porn I discovered that my body wasn’t deserving of ridicule due to it being wrecked by pregnancy and birth, as my ex-husband had so loved to inform me it was. I also discovered the erotic mother was as adored and desired as she was feared and shamed, which is never just a coincidence.
The pressure to conform to the sexless mother societal ideal, The Madonna Archetype, often significantly impairs a mother’s relationship to their sexuality and the quality of their sexual relationships with others. In order to sever mothers from their sexuality, the erotic mother has been portrayed as deviant, selfish, insane and lacking a deep love for her children, or even a threat to their wellbeing, for centuries. The erotic mother’s fecund, carnal sexuality was strategically divided from her nurturing, child rearing role. The powerful archetype of the erotic mother was divided and conquered around the same time period they were burning us as witches, also not a coincidence.
Both mother and child are created by sex. Yet the traditional ideal of motherhood has her eschewing her sexuality in favour of modestly performing her duty to breed without succumbing to her natural lust. Yet if ‘god’ didn’t want us to enjoy sex why did ‘he’ give us so many damn ways to orgasm, and multiple times at that? In addition to clitoral, g-spot, cervical and anal stimulation, I can orgasm from neck kissing, nipple sucking, toe sucking, dreaming, dancing and meditating. I’m not an anomaly. I also wonder if the 20% (approx) of women unable to orgasm would be significantly reduced if their sexuality wasn’t obsessed over whilst simultaneously shamed, abused and ridiculed from the minute it emerges.
Affordable and safe birth control makes shaming and abusing women as a strategy to prevent unwanted pregnancies (a deplorable strategy to begin with) utterly redundant and absurd. We wrestle our right to choose when and if we will become mothers not from God’s hands, but from the hot sweaty meddling hands of the power hungry scoundrels who have too long masqueraded as God’s middlemen.
I’ve spent the last 18 years in a reckoning with the triple strength slut shaming reserved for sexual sole mothers. One thing I’ve learned with sexual fulfilment as a woman is that you’re dammed if you do and you’re dammed if you don’t. So I chose to do it, a lot. As a sex worker I was able to avoid energy draining minimum wage jobs and be able to work part time hours for full time pay. This gave me more time and energy to be with my child and to work toward much needed healing for myself. Monetising the sluttiness, for which I had always been vilified, was the most satisfying FUCK YOU I ever got to say. I don’t accept your shame and hate but your cards and cash are welcome, thank you.
The ‘amateur’, kinky, alternative, queer, feminist, ethical porn and sex worker community have been a source of so much healing and education for me. Before discovering the diverse and vivacious world of online smut I believed my genitals were deformed, my breasts were hideous and my considerable libido was an emasculating unlovable flaw. Oh and I had better not gain any weight, ever. I also didn’t even know where or what my g-spot was! I got the sex education and the body positivity I desperately needed in this community of hardworking revolutionary sluts. Most vitally I learned that my love of sexuality does not negate my worth. Amongst my sex working peers I learned to shed a crippling amount of unnecessary shame and start to develop self respect, learn how to assert my boundaries and to know, then insist, that my pleasure and desire matters too.
The peer education and support I’ve experienced in my corner of the sex work community is formidable. I’ve never been part of a kinder, more inclusive and more informed group of humans. I have made many regrettable choices in my life but sex work is not one of them. Being a whore has made me a better person and it certainly enabled me to become a better mother too.