Body

Published on November 29th, 2016 | by Allegra Hirschman

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ONE SEXY MUTHA: Madison Young Talks to Allegra Hirschman About Her ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SEX THROUGH PREGNANCY AND MOTHERHOOD

Any self-respecting queer feminist in the Bay Area (and likely beyond) is familiar with Madison Young. I remember when her feminist art space, Femina Potens, opened up on Market street, it made me all kinds of proud. To launch something so radically femme and feminist on such a main thoroughfare inches away from the male-dominated increasingly corporate Castro was truly an accomplishment. Young has had no lack of accomplishments since- as a feminist porngrapher, artist, sex-educator and conscious, sex-positive mama. Most recently she is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Sex During Pregnancy and Motherhood. As a feminist mama, pregnant body enthusiast and someone who plans to be pregnant herself, I was primed to read the ultimate guide and ask a very pregnant (strike that, recently post-partum) Madison some questions before (I mean, after) she’s back in the haze of newborn life. – Allegra Hirschman

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MUTHA: First off, you are not still in labor, right?

MADISON YOUNG: Ha ha! No, I’m not in labor right now. But I was in early labor a few days ago when you first reached out about the interview. I gave birth to a sweet little mini-feminista this past weekend, so I’m absolutely floating in love hormones and endorphins from what was a truly incredible and magical birthing experience.  

MUTHA: Huge Congrats! I was rooting for you when I got the “I’m in labor” text and then the most adorable pic of you and the newbie. So taking it back a bit, what was the impetus for writing this book?

MADISON YOUNG: When I was pregnant the first time around, I looked all over for a comprehensive book on sex, intimacy and sexuality that covered pregnancy and motherhood. I was surprised at the lack of published information on the topic. When I was able to find information on sex and pregnancy/motherhood it seemed to be coming from a strictly heteronormative and very vanilla perspective that wasn’t appealing or helpful for me. I wanted to hear from folks that were queer and having babies, folks in poly dynamics and how they were navigating parenthood, mothers who were kinky and how their bodies, relationships and sexuality shifted (or didn’t) during pregnancy and motherhood. I had so many questions the first time around and had to be bold and persistent in seeking out sex-positive care providers that could offer me resources and unbiased advice. Sex and technology writer Violet Blue suggested that I pitch a book—and I thought it was a great idea. But I had a lot of research to do first. This book was written from the perspective of a mama who has been there as well as a sex educator and sex coach that helps couples and individuals during this time of transition.

I finished writing the book and turning it into the publisher the week after Christmas and conceived the newest addition to our family that same week. So the stories and resources and words of affirmation and love and encouragement within this book have been a real gift to me, as I experienced pregnancy and now postpartum for the second time around.  

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Photo by Lydia Daniller of Madison performing an cosmic sex ritual as part of her one woman show Reveal All Fear Nothing

MUTHA: You write that your inspiration for this book came not only from personal experience but from discussions with other moms, which led to you  forming the “Sexy Mamas Social Club.” Can you tell us a little more about the details of the clubs activities? Unless it’s a fight club kind of thing and you can’t say.

MADISON YOUNG: The Sexy Mamas Social Club was a group that I formed early in my postpartum experience. I wanted to be with my community, but was uncertain of who my community was now that I was a mom. Most of my queer artist community didn’t have kids at the time, so I felt a gap in shared experience. I wanted to be with other folks that had been through a similar physical and emotional experiences transitioning to motherhood, but I felt like most mom’s groups were just so far outside of my community that it was difficult to bond with them. So I did what I have always done. When I can’t find a resource that already exists, I create it. I posted a description for the mom’s group that I wanted to find—a group for moms and their partners who were queer, trans, kinky, poly, or sex-positive parents to casually meet up, have tea, food, and conversation. It was really more about having space to talk about who we are openly and building community rather than about specific activities. We ended with spin-off groups like a sexy mamas writers group or a meet-up to go on field trips with our kids. It was in this group setting that I really started to hear about the experiences of other women’s sex lives, relationships, relationship with their bodies, emotional experiences and more that were experienced during pregnancy or new motherhood. It also really helped me in not feeling alone in my own early motherhood.

MUTHA: And you include the voices of many mamas in this book. What surprised you the most in hearing others’ experiences?

MADISON YOUNG: I was really blown away by the openness of each woman that shared her experiences. They are all such brave, open voices with a real diversity in their perspectives. Each of these women navigate through pregnancy and into motherhood in their own way sharing tools that helped them and emotions that crept up. I think these different stories and voices helps to give us permission to feel and accept ourselves just as we are, to love ourselves as we are, to be gentle with where we are right now.  

MUTHA: You talk a lot about radical self care, which really struck a chord since my whole notion of that has been turned upside down since becoming a parent. When I actually make myself a sandwich of my own instead of dining on crusts, apple cores and half-sucked fruit pouches, I feel like a fucking queen. How has the idea of self-care changed for you through pregnancy and motherhood?

MADISON YOUNG: Yes!! Sometimes making a sandwich for ourselves is a form of radical self care, right? Our self care in different points of motherhood or our pregnancy may look really different from what we defined as self care pre-mama life. But it is just as nourishing and can help fill your vessel. When we are able to build small moments of radical self care into our day and really nourish ourselves and bring a mindfulness to the way we are treating ourselves it can make a huge difference in how we feel and in our relationships to our body, our sexuality, our kid/s, and our partner/s. For me personally, self care has definitely shifted through both of my pregnancies and into motherhood. During my first pregnancy I was able to indulge in a lot of self care that was really difficult to find time for or was just not realistic the second time around (because I was simultaneously running after my five year old). During my first pregnancy I loved taking long warm baths, was able to do lots of yoga classes, and get weekly mani pedis. Second time around a 5-min hot shower, yoga at home with my 5 year old, 10 minute increments for meditation and wearing my favorite red lipstick were all part of my self care routine. I’ve learned that how we engage in self care will ebb and flow but the important part is being flexible and gentle with yourself and finding small ways to nourish yourself.

One of the biggest and most common challenges that I see new parent couples face is feeling depleted – experiencing an empty vessel – and then letting feelings of resentment bubble up. Parenting takes a lot of energy, time, resources and can be physically and emotionally draining. It’s important that each individual in the relationship has the opportunity to fill their vessel. This is where we come back to the self care element. If we aren’t able to engage in self care, we can become resentful toward our partner/s if they are engaging in the care they need, which leads to an off-balance in the relationship and a lack of intimate or sexual desire towards our partner.  Make loving yourself a priority! It’s hard to do sometimes, but so key to being present for the people in our life that we love.  

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Painting by Nancy Peach

MUTHA: The Guide has so much information it really does feel like a reference manual you can return to again and again depending on where you are at in the process.

MADISON YOUNG: Thank you! It’s a guide that I keep referring back to myself. We are all always growing and changing. In no way do I feel like I’ve mastered the art of awesome sex or feeling like a sexy mama all the time. For example as I’m writing this I’m leaking breast milk all over my t-shirt and icing my postpartum hemorrhoids! Not the sexiest feeling in the world. Still, I love my body and I’m in awe of the beautiful baby that my body was able to produce. I do feel immensely loved and connected to my husband and to my family. Right now, our intimacy is in tender kisses, snuggles, massages, and in healing together during this early postpartum period.

MUTHA: Can you share some of your many creative, kinky and unique suggestions for different ways of staying intimate during pregnancy, postpartum and while juggling family life?

Yes. First off, try to release yourself of any expectation of how and when you feel like sex needs to happen between you and your partner/s. Before anything check in with yourself.  Work on your own personal relationship to your body and feeling confident, love, and pleasure in your own body. Whether your body is growing from pregnancy or leaking postpartum, try to find a place of acceptance and love for where your body is at at this very moment and send love and acceptance to the places in your body that need them most.

What turns you on about your body right now? What type of pleasurable, intimate touch from your partner do you currently crave?  Do you just want to be held?  Do you want to make out?  Do you want massage?  Maybe you are feeling really sexual in your pregnancy and are craving vibrators, blow jobs and sex but just in different positions that are more comfortable for your pregnant body.  

Think about these things and communicate with your partner where you are in your desire, energy level, and body needs. Also hold space for your partner to express what kind of touch they might be craving and where their desires lie. There are a lot of fun prompts and games in the book to catalyst these conversations about desire.

MUTHA: Sooo, this one I’m asking for a friend, but how exactly do you get it on while doing dishes and does the quality of your work suffer (in either realm)?

MADISON YOUNG: So I’m no Martha Stewart and domestic house work is not really my forté, but I enjoy doing the dishes much more when there is a little bit of an erotic distraction involved. I’ve had many erotic experiences over a big pile of dirty dishes. I really enjoy the game of trying to focus on a singular task like doing the dishes while I’m being distracted by my husband from behind. There is a lot of potential there. You’re turned inward toward the sink, butt is jutting out, spanking is an easy go to or even a little whipping with a dish towel. If you’re wearing a dress or skirt, hands can easily make their way up under your clothes for some finger penetration, vulva massage or anal play. I also love to have my nipples played with while I’m doing the dishes. I’ve found as a parent we often grasp short intimate sexy moments versus marathon sex. Over the sink is one of those places that we like to sprint. Does my housework suffer for it? Well it definitely slows me down a bit in my efficiency to clean the dishes but well worth it.  

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Photo by Nikki Silver of Naughy Naturals

MUTHA: On the spectrum of sexy mamas, you started this process on the sexy side of things, as someone who has dedicated your work to sexuality as well as keeping up a vigourous personal practice. For those on the other end of the spectrum, who might have to google “nipple clamp” for example, do you think that pregnancy and motherhood can be a potential catalyst for someone to expand their sexual repertoire?

MADISON YOUNG: Absolutely! I think parenthood forces us to think creatively, think outside of the box. Once we realize that what used to work for us in our pre-child lives isn’t necessarily going to work for us now, then we can look at our sex lives as this huge open-ended possibility. Just because pre-mommy Jane wasn’t into kink or blindfolds or roleplay doesn’t mean that your post mommy self won’t totally dig that. It’s an opportunity to explore sex in a whole new way. Go to a sex-positive toy store like Good Vibes or order some fun sex toys online, watch some feminist porn together, maybe go out to an erotic art exhibit or an erotic film festival. Find new and interesting places to have sex, to make out, to ravage each other.  It can be a challenge, yes, but you can also see this transition as an opportunity, an adventure.  

MUTHA: Many of our readers are also writers and I want to know more about how you wrote this book while raising a toddler when I, for example, struggle to even eek out a blog post with any regularity.

MADISON YOUNG: I’m planning on writing a piece on that topic! It’s definitely a dance.  

When my oldest was first born it was super frustrating. I was used to having so much time for creating new work and I greatly underestimated the amount of time and resources that parenting takes. I had decided that it was a great idea to put on an exhibit of my artwork just 7 weeks after giving birth to my daughter and that it should be all new art works focused on my transition into motherhood. It was an insane task. I don’t recommend it. It was really stressful. This time around I’ve made sure to give myself a lot more work free time in my postpartum.  

I work on a really tight schedule. I know how long it takes me to write a chapter and how long it takes for me to edit or outline a book. I schedule in time to write each specific chapter of the book and I usually start with a chapter that I feel super confident about. During this first draft I don’t edit, I just write free form, working purely on story or content.  

I find pockets of time to schedule in writing before my daughter wakes up or after she is in bed or when she has classes or school. I don’t wait until there is a period of time that pops up and then wing it. Projects are just too big and by the time you decide where to dive in your window is over.

MUTHA: So we had been racing against the clock to get this interview in before your next baby came. Clearly, we failed. How has this pregnancy been different? In the second addition of the ultimate guide is there anything new you would include? Or advice that you didn’t need with #1?

MADISON YOUNG: Yes, definitely. I’ve certainly acquired another book’s worth of content from this second pregnancy and birth. It’s been a very different experience for me both physically and emotionally.  I’d love add another chapter to the book on caring for our children while nourishing our pregnant selves. Also pregnancy and the birth of our new addition has been a great catalyst for further discussion with our oldest child about our bodies, birth, and loving ourselves in all of our bodies many shapes and sizes.  

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About the Author

Allegra Hirschman

Allegra Hirschman lives in San Francisco with her wife and almost 3-year-old daughter. She is a social researcher, social media maven, outspoken bisexual, and line dance enthusiast who recently completed a Masters in Women’s and Gender Studies. She has been writing for decades but only recently thought she might start to show her writing to someone that would not be marking it with a letter grade. You can find her occasionally commenting under the unfortunate twitter handle @allegrahirschma



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