How is your relationship with your mother? Strained? Smooth sailing? Sometimes good, sometimes not so good?
Well, for Erica Jong and her daughter Molly Jong-Fast, it’s strained, and it’s strained publicly in all its painful glory in this interview at NYMag.com. In it, the two women have a brief but telling conversation about sex; specifically, Erica’s unending curiosity about it, and Molly’s resultant prudishness.
Jong-Fast starts off on the very wrong foot, by being not just prudish but ageist. Observe:
E.J.: What I find interesting [after editing the anthology] is that the younger women writers are very reticent about sex, while the older women are very raunchy.
M.J.F.: Basically, the people who you would never want to have sex with, want to write about sex.
I understand she wants to set herself apart from her mother but thatâ€™s justâ€¦not very nice.
Still, what bothered me about the interview was more than that. In rejecting her motherâ€™s sexuality, Jong-Fast, 32, presumes to represent our generation. â€śYour generation wants to write about having sex and not wearing bras; my generation wants to pick their kids up at school,â€ť she tells Jong.
And you know what? To a certain extent, thatâ€™s true. Some time in the near future, I certainly would like to have kids that I will then pick up from school. But guess what? I also want to fantasize about zipless fucks and write about sex, be curious, experiment, and not be afraid to explore questions surrounding sexuality as I get older. Wanting to have a family and wanting to have an exploratory, dirty, fuck-filled sex life are not mutually exclusive, and itâ€™s dangerous to suggest that they are. (Iâ€™d add, too, that Jong probably did her fair share of picking her daughter up from school.)
And it wasnâ€™t just Jong-Fastâ€™s â€śdaughters of the second wave are prudesâ€ť talking points that bothered me â€“ it was her attitude. Case in point:
E.J.: I married my first lover.
M.J.F.:Ugghhh. Lover? Lover is a disgusting word. It makes me want to throw up. Itâ€™s a Platoâ€™s Retreatword. This idea of commitment, that was something I had to learn. It was not something my motherâ€™s generation was aware of.
So at 32, a) it still bothers Jong-Fast that her mother talks about sex, and b) she has nothing more insightful to say about marrying the first person you sleep with than to pull a Glenn Beck over the word “lover”? I might never know what it’s like to live under the shadow of a parent like Erica Jong, and snarkiness certainly has it’s place (for instance, it can be a fun tool when blogging). But Fear of Flying influenced millions of people because of its bravery and honesty. If our contribution as a generation is to act like 12-year-old boys when it comes to sex, we are not headed in the right direction.