Your points are valid, but they must be viewed against the backdrop of our society as a whole. When you look at them this way, you’re failing to see the larger picture of how women are expected to behave in our culture.

The fact is women don’t receive just one message about sex in our lives; we receive many messages.

In my essay on Medium, entitled Sex is Not a Commodity I “Sell” to Men in Exchange for Worth, I discuss just how confusing these mixed messages were for me, growing up. As an adolescent, I received one message: I should dress sexily to attract boys’ attention. Then I received a second message: “Dress this way but never put out.” Dressing like a “slut” was fashionable. I just wasn’t supposed to actually be a slut.

Adolescents like myself grow up into women, who later become mothers. These messages live on in our heads. In some ways, the conflicting forces are even more marked for a woman once she becomes a mother.

Now she doesn’t just have to deal with slut-shaming; she has to deal with real shaming that could have very dire consequences, especially if she is a single mother like I am. Act too openly sexual and Social Services might show up on my doorstep.

MILF might be a popular term today, but let’s not forget it used to be taboo.

I agree very much with what psychologist Dr. Rose Robbins says: “There’s a common duality women deal with between the mother figure who’s asexual and the Magdalene who is a sexual being. There’s no equivalent for men.”

The duality is the problem. It’s hard for mothers to be both things at the same time. Society makes it hard for us. MILFs might tantalize other fathers (and teenage sons) at social gatherings, but how does society view the “Mother I Like to Fuck” as a whole? Is she viewed as a good mother?

Relationship psychologist Dr. Natasha Sharma asks: “Why do we have to identify a woman as a mom that you’d like to have sex with? That plays into the idea that this is a mom and therefore a member of a subset of otherwise asexual people who happens to be attractive. We’re inadvertently creating a culture that believes mothers who are sexual beings are an odd thing.”

C. Hogan goes on to write in her essay for The Ascent called The Dance of Motherhood and Shame: “Mentally, I was careful to keep any sexual fantasies separate from my desire for motherhood. I knew sex was generally speaking a prerequisite for motherhood, but that was as far as it went.”

Women receive mixed messages about sex their whole lives. We internalize these messages. When we don’t, we’re shamed. This is was what I was attempting to convey in my piece.

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I write about relationships, women’s issues, and my highly imperfect life. Learn more about me: my.bio/theformerlymrs Support: ko-fi.com/ellesilver

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