” ‘Don’t you like my big boobs?’ said my client to her husband with a playful smile as they sat on my couch in couples therapy. ‘When I look at your breasts now, I think of the baby breastfeeding. That is not a turn-on,’ he responded flatly to his beautiful wife. Her face looked stung with rejection and then silent tears streamed down her flushed cheeks. She longed for the intimacy they shared prior to their 6-month-old baby’s birth.
Freud might say her husband was suffering from a ‘Madonna-whore complex,’ a psychological condition where men desire the erotic vixen but cannot desire the respected partner. Dare I say, I think this is a very real phenomenon, and one that does not bode well for women’s sexuality or relationships.
I blame the Madonna-whore complex on our culture. Young women and mothers are often polarized, with younger women being sexualized and mothers seen as wholesome, pure and nurturing. Even in Jungian psychology, the three female archetypes are Maiden, Mother and Crone. This means women are first young and beautiful, then become moms, and then get old. This bothers me.
Can we mothers please have the opportunity to be seen as sexy and desirable after we have given birth? Can women please be afforded the same right as men to remain sexual beings beyond the transition to parenthood?”