Gather together a group of married women anywhere — the office, a restaurant, a party — and they will get to talking about everything from kids and work to books and movies. If they’re close, there may be talk of snotty noses and partners who refuse to empty the dishwasher and difficult in-laws. You may even have the rare occasion when women will discuss bodily functions and whether or not they are correctly functioning.
What you won’t hear is married women talking about their sex lives. There are always some exceptions to the rule, of course. But in general, sex is simply not discussed in any meaningful way once you’ve settled down into a longterm committed relationship.
Why don’t women talk about sex? There are a couple of reasons. The primary reason is because married women supposedly aren’t “supposed” to care about sex. We’re meant to be worried about our kids and our houses and our spouses — and all the emotional labor that comes with them. The quality and the quantity of sex are expected to be a lower priority.
The implication is that for women, particularly married women, to think about sex would be selfish. It would imply not only that women are interested in pleasure but that they care about it and — oh, the horror — that they have a right to it as much as anyone else and they are aware of that right.
Married women might also avoid the subject because sex is “private” — the real kind, anyway. Movies and politics and ads can be all about sex all the time. But when it comes to sex between two people who have committed their lives to one another, the topic is suddenly taboo. But in reality, that privacy is contrived and unnecessary. What’s the benefit to women when sex cannot be talked about? None. Then there’s the fear of comparison. What if you’re having too much sex or not enough? What if what you’re doing is too boring or too wild? What if you’re the only woman in the world who thinks about George or Amal Clooney when you’re having sex? What’s the benefit to women in avoiding comparison? There is none.
Here’s the thing: These are all terrible reasons for married women not to talk about sex. Terrible. They are societally manifested and self-perpetuating. Well, not societally. I take that back. That’s a cop out. They are created by men to keep women from knowing that they have every right to pleasure and that they deserve great sex.
Think about it. If married women talked about sex, we could share our secrets and desires and have them validated. We could empower one another to ask for what we want. We could support one another in never faking another orgasm again. We could tell men that putting tab A into slot B is not sex. It is merely one component of sex. Foreplay is not a thing. Foreplay is sex, and our pleasure cannot be an afterthought.
Married women have sex. Married women like sex. Married women want sex, all kinds of sex and all of those kinds — as long as they are between consenting adults — is good. Married women have a right to orgasm. It’s not selfish to want pleasure. It’s human. And it’s our inalienable right. Sex is self-care. It’s not just OK to want it and to have it. It’s good, really good, for us mentally and physically.
There’s no reason for married women talking about sex to be taboo. Not a good reason. It divides us as women. And we do not need that — now or ever. It creates a mystery, a competition, a veil around sex and sexuality, something we also have no need for.
We have best friends who we confide in. Maybe we talk to them a little about these things. But we should be able to talk to them about everything — sex toy recommendations, new positions, how to talk to our partners, near misses and home runs. (Apologies for the sports metaphor.)
But we also should be able to talk to all our friends and even our acquaintances. All at appropriate levels that are comfortable for us personally. But it should not be a generalized taboo. When information about sex is shared in the same way as information about food or travel or beauty, then sex and sexuality become as “normal” as food and travel and beauty.
So, I’ll start. I love having sex in the morning. I love the morning light and waking up to my wife’s hand finding her way to my bare hip. I love knowing she woke up wanting me. It makes me feel loved.
Now, it’s your turn. Let’s talk about sex, baby.
A version of this story was published December 2018.