One of the greatest compliments I ever heard was from a Tantric Rabbi, Azis, who came to stay at our home from Israel. Over a cup of turkish coffee he announced that I was a perfect embodiment of both the Madonna and the Whore. He went on to say that the most fundamental problem with patriarchy is that men are afraid. Not of war, but of feminine power. War is like a game for most boys, they could sign up for the military before they could face the deep and vast emotional nature of the goddess. A woman’s emotions are far more mysterious and frightening. He then acknowledged my husband Michael for not being afraid of me. If more men in this society could embrace the full range of potential within each woman, we could heal this sick society.
This got me thinking. How many husbands are truly comfortable with their wives full sexual expression? In Pop psychology the Madonna-Whore complex is “the inability to maintain sexual arousal within a committed, loving relationship.” The condition was coined by Freud who wrote: “Where such men love they have no desire and where they desire they cannot love.” And numerous notable feminists have since tried to tackle the taboo between motherhood and sexuality. The dualistic belief that a woman can either be a obedient wife/mother or a sexy slut oppresses both women and men.
Within the culture of the polyamory family, there is a celebration of BOTH sexual freedom AND deep long-term commitment. One of the innovating books in Polyamory is The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy. These pioneering women assert:
“As proud sluts, we believe that sex and sexual love are fundamental forces for good, activities with the potential to strengthen intimate bonds, enhance lives, open spiritual awareness, even change the world….(and here comes one of my favorite quotes of all times…) Sluts share their sexuality the way philanthropists share their money: because they have a lot of it to share, because it makes them happy to share it, because sharing makes the world a better place.”
Personally, the archetype of the Mary Magdalene has always come easily for me. I admit in my early college days I may have misused the power of the vixen to gain attention or other favors, but since I found tantra I’ve opened to a healthy new stream of kundalini energy that pours through me naturally, almost unconditionally.
The archetype of Mary the Mother, however, has not always been so accessible. At first I wrestled with heavy post-pardum depression, and even after I healed, I had a hard time integrating motherhood into my career as a sex educator (especially when hosting adult events). The mainstream is constantly giving messages that these two Marys should not mix.
So how did polyamory help me heal the Mother/whore split? In three big ways.
First, I’ve surrounded myself with lots of lovers who are not only able to meet many different needs, but able to reflect my many different sides. My community loves and supports all of me, not just the sexy part of me. My lovers are not just interested in sex, but embrace the domestic goddess who wants to stay in together to cook, clean, schedule and do life planning.
Secondly, we have a virtual village of lovers and friends who are committed to enriching Devin’s life. For example: We do holidays with Auntie Viraja. Tahl teaches Devin about video games and stories of Africa. Cheri takes him out into nature. Jen teaches him about having dogs and cats. Daniel is the nocturnal scientist and Roxanne just had her first sleepover and got to exchange notes on how best to cuddle and tickle.
Third, I am celebrated as a MILF. (Michael is also highly sought after as a DILF) My poly community sees the sensual, sexy, playful, and even kinky side of parenting. Of course we are always conscious about what is developmentally appropriate to talk about and do in front of the kids. But there is no harm in an occasional “who’s your daddy” scene. And in some cases a threesome with a man and a woman can be more fulfilling than a Freudian therapy session to satisfy ones core longing for attention from both mommy and daddy. In general, our polyamory community recognizes that parenting is a sexy, natural and attractive role in life.
And so, as a conscious lifestyle, a polyamory family can be a rich personal growth path that helps to heal some of society’s deeper wounds. Whether or not you practice polyamory, I’d love to hear from others who’ve had experience healing the Madonna/Whore dichotomy. Blessings.
If you’d like to join Kamala Devi and the San Diego polyamory family for a fun weekend retreat to explore firsthand how they do polyamory, check out Poly Palooza: Top 10 reasons to go to a 4-day festival for free lovers! or go to Poly Palooza: The Weekend Festival for Free Lovers.