Sex: The Mother’s Perspective

Posted by on February 12th, 2010 at 7:07 AM

In her Pajama Diaries, cartoonist Terri Libenson doesn’t shy away from conjugal canoodling. Her alter ego protagonist—Jill Kaplan, a young mother of two who runs a graphic design business from home— and her husband Rob feel the urge every so often, and Libenson indulges them (off camera, of course, but we know what they’re doing). Not too long ago (well, it’s been a few years, actually—but still), Hi got letters from some of his readers when he raised a randy eyebrow at Lois; marital sex can still provoke Puritanical protest, however low key. The subject is permitted but it must be treated with several layers of care, sensitivity, and restraint—which is to say, usually, not at all. Libenson delves in that direction pretty well but more often and more blatantly than almost anyone else. So when she decided her comic strip couple should tell their offspring about the birds-and-bees, I was intrigued: how would she handle this delicate matter? Just how specific—explicit?—was she going to get? Here’s how she started out (click to enlarge):

Promising enough. Ken and Barbie are going to do the trick (so to speak). Ken and Barbie are responsible for this entire episode, by the way: the kids were observed “playing inappropriately” with Ken and Barbie, so to set them on the right road to sex, Jill decides it’s time for the lecture. I continued for these first couple days to wonder if Libenson had some sly exemplary birds-and-bees maneuver that she’d foist off on us, providing young parents everywhere with a model to imitate. But she got to the end of the series by leaving out the juicy stuff—the lecture happens, like so much Really Important Stuff in comics, off camera. But the end itself is a perfect comic strip ending—a joke (click to enlarge):

A good joke. A terrific joke. And, moreover, the joke is on me and thee, tovarich, if we expected a comic strip to be a “how to” manual. Comic strips are supposed to provoke laughter, and this one surely does. Comic strips can also inform and instruct, but not this time.

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