Parenting Visibility

 Posted by on August 28, 2012
Aug 282012

istock_000019333456medium-300x199-2888682The mainstream representation of the parenting and sex dilemma is almost exclusively focused on the straight, monogamous, married person who is too burdened from parenting to have the sex life he or she (though usually she) once did. Pages and pages, site after site, blog after blog address and respond to this issue as if it is the only conflict between parenting and sexual behavior. Why? Because it is the only mainstream parenting narrative allowed to exist. It’s a faux-dilemma.

As sex-positive as I like to be, there is a lot of pressure as a parent to stay silent. To keep your head down and tuck away your sexuality until your kids are grown and out of the house. So here we are presented with two options: stay child-free and explore your sexuality all you want or have children and keep your sexuality contained in a neat little box.

Recently there was a blog post making the rounds written by a straight, legally married, white, monogamous, stay at home mother of several children with the headline, “I’m a mom and I love sex!” or something. She basically just announced that she liked sex and that sex with her husband was hot and that she wasn’t ashamed of her sexuality. Great. Awesome. I’m glad she was able to make such a bold statement. I’m just curious what a declaration like that is actually celebrating? What I got from that post, and all of the kudos it gathers, is that if you want to be a parent who is proud of your sexuality, your sexuality better be as close to the status-quo as possible… still.

Where are the: “I’m a Kinky, Poly, Multi-racial, Gender-queer, Pansexual, CEO and I love being a parent!” blog posts? I know they do exist, I know the people who write them, but those posts aren’t given as much attention. The schism that exists between what we can say about ourselves as parents and what we can say about ourselves as people is deep. We have to constantly chose who we are in certain spaces.

We all know that being public about our sexuality has consequences. Some of them are good and some of them are not so good. But they are there regardless. As parents, we have to think of consequences in three-fold: how are we, as individuals affected, how are our partners affected and how are our children affected? And often times the sequence of those considerations are jumbled up and rearranged depending upon the situation. If being open about our sexual exploration will be evidence used against us in a divorce, that’s a pretty intense incentive to not be public. If we perceive a threat to our children’s social acceptance due to being open about our sexual preferences, we are most likely not to share about them in any type of public forum. All of these concerns restrict our ability to publicly complicate the dominant narrative of how parenting and sexuality intersect and the actual challenges we are facing.

So, my point? Where do parents go to challenge these norms? Is it online through anonymous handles? Is it only in the private spaces of trusted company? Who are our role models and living examples? Feel free to comment and share who you admire, learned what not do from or are just aware of as parenting with an alternative sexuality in public.