It takes a lot to shock me. I spent a lot of years editing women's magazines and I have two words for you: sealed sections. Oh so many of the things. And now, as the publisher of women's websites including iVillage and Mamamia, I publish posts like this [NSFW!] and this [NSFW!].
And yet still I was shocked when I watched Beyonce perform her song Drunk in Love at the Grammys this weekend. Did you see it? Here we go:
You know what shocked me? Not the sexy grinding or the sort of weird humping the floor thing that female singers always do or even the G-string leotard. This is the Grammys, not Little House On The Prairie (look it up if you're Gen Y).
What shocked me was seeing Beyonce being all sexy with her husband, Jay-Z, who features in the song and shared the stage with her. Hot monogamy? Now that's not something you see every day. And it's certainly not something I can remember seeing depicted in pop music, not since J-Lo convinced a beleaguered looking Ben Affleck to appear in her Jenny On The Block video.
And that was different. They had only just started dating (look it up if you're Gen Y, yes they did date and everyone called them 'Bennifer'. It was a thing.).
Pop stars are always thrusting and grinding and tweaking and humping with models and dancers and even sometimes other pop stars in their videos and on stage. Ho hum. That stuff has become wallpaper. But who does that with their husband? Beyonce does. In fact she's made a whole album and 17 videos pretty much about being sexy with her husband. Hot monogamy was undeniably the theme of her latest release, with Jay Z featuring in several of the videos, most notably the one for Drunk In Love.
She also sings about struggling to find her mojo after becoming a mother - both as a woman and as a wife.
In Mine she sings:
I've been watchin' for the signs, took a trip to clear my mind, oh
Now I'm even more lost and, you're still so fine oh my, ohhh my
Been havin' conversations about break-ups, and separations,
I'm not feelin' like myself since the baby,
Are we gonna even make it oh
Cause if we are, we're takin' this a little too far
If we are, we're taking this is a little too far,
Baby if we are, we're taking this a little too far,
I find this fascinating. Because frankly, you don't need to be an internationally famous pop star to feel the jolt of disconnection around your sexuality and your identity as a woman after you give birth. Not only is pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and the care of a baby a monumentally physical challenge, it's a life-changing emotional and mental one. The relationship with your husband - all aspects of it not just the sex - shifts fundamentally when you go from 'couple' to 'parents'.
Don't you think? Not that the solution is to necessarily straddle a chair and flick your hair around - unless you want to, in which case go your hardest - but I think it's important to acknowledge that for some women, it's a struggle to reconcile 'mother' with 'wife' and 'woman'. And that like anything, acknowledging that struggle is the key to overcoming it. Especially in a society where being sexy and looking sexy and feeling sexy is sold to us as The Most Vital Thing You Must Do As A Woman.
This article was first published on iVillage.com.au