Originally posted November 13, 2013
View this article on Elephant Journal
The headline read: “Michelle Obama Opens Up in ‘Marie Claire’: Our Sex Life Has Never Been More Open, More Experimental, More Generous.”
I almost gushed my panties.
“Holy shit,” I thought. This is groundbreaking. The First Lady (of all people) speaking so candidly about sex. Not to titillate. Not to sell albums. But simply because it’s her desire. Because she’s a grown adult woman who deeply loves her man and wants to share the wisdom her relationship has taught her.
Then I read the article’s origin. America’s Finest News Source, The Onion.
But I clung to hope. Maybe Michelle Obama did give a candid interview to Marie Claire and maybe (just maybe) The Onion was mocking the interview.
Nope. One simple Google search revealed that no such interview occurred.
But what intrigued (and alarmed) me more in my internet findings was a vitriolic editorial from one writer and the corresponding comments in response to the article.
Ashley E. McGuire, a writer for Acculturated, The Washington Post and many other publications, described the article as “sexually humiliating and disgusting,” and treated the president’s wife “like a dog.”
Was the article funny? Not particularly.
A little tacky? Perhaps.
But disgusting? Well…only if you think sex is disgusting and that “dignified ladies” shouldn’t be having it.
And it’s exactly this Virgin/Whore double standard that is harming relationships and keeping women from claiming our erotic power.
Had the article been about Paris Hilton, Miley Cyrus or Madonna, McGuire and her readers might have been more inclined to ignore it. Because society already perceives these women as “slutty and stupid,” so they deserve sexual parody—and are probably already defiling themselves with the “disgusting” acts described in the article anyway.
But to insinuate that the First Lady has a sexual beast inside of her is not only distasteful, it’s degrading.
However, the truth is that every woman, no matter her status, job, race, creed, religion or any other labeled box we can stuff her into, has both the saint and the sinner (and infinite variations in-between) within her.
Plus, despite the satirical tone of The Onion’s article, I found some of what Mrs. Obama “said” rather refreshing and in alignment with my sexual values.
“Their sex life has never been more open, more experimental or more generous.”
Well that sounds like the goal of every couple with whom I work.
“A recent spike in the frequency and intensity of their lovemaking has resulted in the most satisfying and adventurous sex she has ever known.”
That sounds delicious.
“It doesn’t have to be a big production every time. Sometimes we’ll just do oral, or we’ll only use our hands.”
Dude! I want to scream this to the planet! Sex can be anything you want, anytime you want. We get all caught up in the script that ends in screaming intercourse and mutual climax that we miss the whole buffet of possibilities.
“I remember I actually stopped masturbating for a while because I started to feel like a less sexual, less desired person altogether.”
While this is an attempt at a joke, it’s actually a disheartening and accurate sentiment shared by many women in relationships where the sex has faded.
“Obama noted that as a lover, the President is now 100% available emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and that he’s never been more attentive or celebratory of her body.”
Men, take note. This is the very thing women want from you.
“Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint,” Obama added. “We’re riding a high right now, and I know it’ll dip again. That’s okay. That’s how it works. But for right now, I’m just enjoying this flood of hot, hungry sex with my husband.”
Godspeed, fake Mrs. Obama. Godspeed.
Granted, I can understand how The Onion’s references to the First Lady participating in threesomes, BDSM play and watching porn might ruffle some prudent feathers.
But then, that got me thinking: what if the first lady spoke as candidly about sex as any starlet. What if a classy, powerful woman were courageous enough to share her erotic journey (no matter how kinky it might be) with her partner and with the public.
What if we, as a society, could receive and celebrate this woman? Without embarrassment. Without the giggles and scandals and tee-hee-hees that often come with talking about celebrities’ sex lives. Without trying to denigrate or shame her.
In my opinion, we need more frank conversations about sex, if only to stop feeding on the sensationalist pop culture that masquerades as sexuality.
We need to be revealing hidden fantasies and desires, if only to foster compassion by looking at each other and saying “Yes, I feel exactly the same way!”
We need more female role models declaring, with great love and dignity, “Yes, I am a sexual being,” if only to break through the private tyranny that comes with trying to be a “good girl.”
So perhaps, Ms. McGuire, The Onion left a bitter taste in your mouth.
However, to relegate any talk of the First Lady’s sexuality as “disgusting and defiling” only adds to the trauma we women already carry within our sexuality and tightens the noose around our already frightened throats.
Therefore, we need a public discourse about sex, if only so that publications like The Onion aren’t the only ones talking about (and subsequently lampooning) it.