A Blogazine, based out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, that features fun and interesting articles. Topics include: parenting, society, real estate, career, style, spirituality and more. Written contributions are always welcome!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Baby Love

I've been in an inquiry lately about women and our voices, and the topics about which we either speak or remain silent, so these questions were naturally at the back of my mind when I recently saw
BabyLove at the 45 Bleecker Street theater. The show began an extended run through July 27th, and is directed by Julie Kramer. Christen Clifford, a Brooklyn mom and the writer/performer of the show, gives a choreographed, no-holds-barred reenactment of her conception attempts, pregnancy, delivery, post-partum sex and life after baby through the lens of her “sex-colored glasses”. The place where the maternal meets the sexual is one of those territories about which women seldom speak. We often are deeply unsettled just carrying both identities around simultaneously—I have one friend who wouldn't have sex for a year after having a baby because she could not traverse between the roles of “milk cow” and “sex kitten”.

Time Out New York's Raven Snook wrote, “In a postfeminist world, you’d think a woman could embody both Madonna and whore, but society still doesn’t quite accept the dichotomy. Clifford takes it one step further as Madonna, whore and MILF.” BabyLove is shocking in part because it does address this terrain that our culture gates behind closed lips, but it also addresses it in an explicit manner. In an interview with The Gothamist, Christen Clifford said, “It is explicit, but not for the sake of being sexually explicit. My goal is to be sexually honest. . . . I feel it's important to talk about motherhood and sexuality. We are a sexually open society yet there are still so many things that retain that Puritan influence and remain taboo. The deep changes to women’s sexuality that happen when we become mothers is rarely discussed.”

Christen Clifford, Brooklyn mom and the writer/performer of BabyLove.

Some audience-goers or expectant parents are missing pertinent information about having sex after baby, and will enjoy this comical and detailed, health-class-goes-burlesque presentation. Other parents may be less fascinated with what's going on with their own bodies and may spend as little time remembering their hospital experiences as the food they ate on their first date.

For many, Clifford's show will break the ice around topics previously off-limits, and they will find her experiences relatable and honest. There's a role that many of the arts play in society, whether experimental theater or runway fashion: presenting something shocking and dramatic in order to begin a conversation in society or to open it up a little further. Christen Clifford's show is definitely giving people something to talk about, and those new conversations will come as a relief for many. Her work is candid and daring, and she doesn't pull back from displaying her insecurities or fears with any less vulnerability than her passions. She's adding her voice to a chorus of women who continue to choose to speak and not remain silent, and whether or not her content is “right” for you, the presence of her voice is good for all of us.

Jen Lee is a Park Slope mother and writer, and a regular contributor for Hip Slope Mama. For more of Jen Lee: Writer, Mother, Newbie Yorker, visit jenlee.net.