June 4, 2012
I bought Your Orgasmic Pregnancy: Little Sex Secrets Every HOT MAMA Should Know online, sight unseen, for my lending library for clients. Written by Danielle Cavallucci, a pregnancy fitness specialist, and Yvonne K Fulbright, PhD, a sexologist, this book has a lot to offer, and yet bothers me on many levels. It happens to be one of only a few on the subject of sexuality during pregnancy. The authors touch on a lot of important things that readers may be shy of asking their care providers, and some we might never even think to ask. For example, I love that they tell readers that nursing leads to lower estrogen levels, which means less natural lube production. And they do a fairly good job discussing feelings that may come up at various points.
The authors DO make a point of using “your partner,” which is really nice and inclusive for those of us who are unmarried. This phrasing does assume the reader has a committed partner, as well as monogamy; single hot mamas and poly hot mamas are not likely to find themselves represented in the text.
As far as queer families go, the authors do say “his or her” when referring to your partner, and sometimes say “penis or strap-on-dildo.” There’s an occasional “what about same-sex couples?” addendum, and a few of the cutely drawn diagrams even show a pregnant person being done by her strap-on wielding honey (pregnant person always the one being penetrated). I’m thrilled that they went so far with trying to be inclusive. However. The text mostly seems as if they wrote it assuming straight folks, and then they decided to add in the “or her” and “or dildo” afterward. There are plenty of places where they talk about things specific to cis male partners, like “growing his seed inside you” kind of talk (not relevant to many families in which partners are not bio-related to the baby). They discuss techniques for pleasing penises, without any mention of similar techniques for vulvas. Other hetero-centric phrasing includes calling the reverse cowgirl position “woman on top,” which doesn’t make any sense if there’s two women, and needlessly genders both folks.
Non-vanilla readers are also likely to feel left out of the discussion. The authors talk about how to handle your “sexy, rock star” navel piercing during pregnancy, and I can just see them congratulating themselves on their edginess, while failing to mention genital piercings and nipple piercings! Similarly, they ask readers to experiment with a little rope bondage, but have no tips for members of the kink scene on how to accommodate their pregnancy. In fact, the only mention they have of BDSM is in a sentence I find disturbing: “most couples can continue with their normal prepregnancy sex lives, as long as ‘normal’ doesn’t include death-defying gymnastics, rough or violent play, or the insertion of oversized objects.” (p 46) I have a hard time with these women getting to define normal for their readers, especially when they throw around “death-defying.” I am also curious as to how exactly one determines the line between an inserted object being appropriately-sized versus oversized.
Trans and gender-variant readers will certainly not identify with this book. The target audience is specifically femme-leaning women. And implicitly, participants in stereotypical gender roles. There’s no mention or drawing of the pregnant partner being the one wearing a strap-on (for partners of any anatomy), but plenty of discussion about clothes, make-up, and shoes. This book inflames my feminism: the idea that only penetrative sex counts as sex; oral, manual, and anal are repeatedly described as alternatives to “going all the way,” a framework that is both insufficient for queer couples and detrimental to straight couples. The authors also sexistly and insultingly tell (cis dude) partners to make things easier for their sweeties by doing some housework, or even baby-sitting. “Baby-sitting” their OWN KIDS. One of my hugest pet peeves.
My midwife alarms went off over several pieces, too. The authors insist that readers religiously practice their Kegels: I disagree with the theory that Kegels are universally good for the pelvic floor, so I would give my own clients that disclaimer before recommending the book. There is also an assumption that most readers will not be exclusively nursing, which I find disheartening. The authors had the opportunity to help re-establish nursing as a norm for baby feeding, and did not take it. But perhaps the most offensive sentence was when the authors say that watching the birth itself “may alter a man’s perception of sex as he watches his play zone getting ripped and stretched.” This line is just wrong on so many levels, not to mention creepy as all get-out. “His play zone”? Seriously?
Anyway, I am really glad for some of the great information and perspectives this book offers. I’ll probably keep it in my library, though I may scribble objections in the margins.
Tags: Book Reviews
Perinatal care specialist. Parent of two. Hosted three fetuses: my big kid, a surrogacy in the middle, and my little kid. Vegan; drinks a lot of tea. Board game (and general) geek. Goat hugger extraordinaire.
Read more about Jasper here.