Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Feminism Pt. 2: Sexuality

Female sexuality is such a wierd topic for me. Particularly as it pertains to black woman and our sexuality.

Historically(I'm saying let's go back to slavery), black women have been looked at as nothing more than a sum of our parts. Breasts, hips & asses. We've been ogled at and been made spectacles of, all due to the curvaciousness of our form.

Exhibit A: Hottentot Venus, Sarah Baartman*

Our sex has been used as a commodity, both against our will and with it. These bodies have made many a man person rich. And it seems like once we came to the conclusion that we could get rich off our own bodies, it all went downhill from there. We fooled ourselves into thinking that we were taking control of our bodies & sexuality by becoming the ones to own our exploitation. We got up on poles, undressed ourselves in music videos and pussy popped, not necessarily on handstands, for crowds to see, all at our own command. But I have to wonder, what exactly have we gained from all of this?

Not much if you ask me. I guess it sounds powerful to some women to be able to "own" their sexuality by putting it on display; by being able to sex just as freely as they love. But I've always seen this as a double edged sword. Women should no doubt be able to own their own sexuality, but why does owning ones sexuality usually end up translating to being able to sex the world with no judgement. Can women also own their sexuality by withholding it?

This is something I've pondered over the past year or so: can a woman feel just as powerful in her sexuality by choosing not to have sex? My curiosity on this topic challenged me to try it out for myself. Yes, celibacy.

All jokes aside...
One of my New Year's resolutions was to remain celibate AT LEAST until I landed in a committed relationship. I spent enough time learning the hard way that "free" sex was just not for me. It can be liberating I guess, but at the end of the day it was leading to way too much emotion for me. And emotion just winds up being extremely awkward when it pops up in situations where it was never invited in the first place. I've come to learn that actively choosing not to have sex has given me more power in my sexuality than ever before.

I didn't really think about the powerlessness I felt until I had a conversation with a friend. They asked me what I missed most about having sex and my response was "intimacy". But after pondering my response, I realized how lacking in intimacy my experiences had actually been. I had been cheating myself by continuing to be in situations that were full of action but very little feeling. And while I couldn't tell in the moment, I now saw how much power over myself and my body I actually lost in doing so. By choosing to step back from sex and taking time to evaluate my experiences I feel as if I'm able to step into the next chapter with a clearer vision on what I want my sexuality to look like. I didn't do it to gain respect from men or to get a seat on the express train to heaven; I did it for me. And honestly, I have come to feel more empowered by "keeping a nickel between my knees" than I ever did by spreading them.

I don't think celibacy is the answer for every woman out there who feels the need to own her sexuality, but neither is passing out the cookies like you're a Girl Scout at the peak of the season. Sometimes you just have to completely shut out what society thinks you should & should not do and figure out what works best for you.

*Sarah Baartman was a woman from the Eastern Cape of S. Africa, who was made famous/infamous by being exploited by her slavemasters and exhibited as a freak show attraction in Europe during the 19th century. Was made popular due to her "unusual bodily features".

Sunday, August 14, 2011

True Life: I'm A Feminist, Pt. 1

What do you get when you cross June Cleaver and bell hooks?

To this day, what do you think most people's impressions of feminists are? That they are all rough around the edges, hairy armpit having, man hating lesbians? That might sound pretty harsh but the truth is that's what many people think of when they think about feminists.

I won't lie, several pieces of that description were my own, once upon a time, feelings about feminists. But as I've grown up over the past couple years, I've realized that much of who I am agrees with feminist ideologies. I'm as pro-woman as can be, but without being anti-man. Is that possible? I think so.

I'm as much about making sure that I have the instincts and skills it takes to raise a family as I am about having the determination and confidence it takes to eventually own my own business. I love to cook and bake and take care of my toddler niece, but should that make me less a feminist? As I stated above, I think feminists are too often looked at as being anti-man. Can't I be for one thing without being against another? Why can't the two coincide? I'm not saying that it's easy, but I do think it is possible.

The struggle between being pro women's achievement & progression, while realizing that men are still going to be men, is part of the issue I believe we're having in trying to foster romantic relationships between one another in modern society. There's no denying that black women are achieving at levels unparallelled by black men. That has made us feel that we have a certain power and control in a relationship where traditionally we had very little. I can now, as a woman, be the breadwinner and financially provide for the family justas/more than a man can. I can "bring home the bacon AND fry it up in the pan". But what happens when that makes men uncomfortable?

While we may be evolving as women, men for the most part are fundamentally staying the same. We may be getting degrees and becoming CEOs, CFOs, and presidents of companies but men don't want us to lose that soft edge that characterizes femininity. Just because I dole out commands at work doesn't mean my man is going to be happy with me trying to tell him what to do all the time. Not being in total control in the home, doesn't make us any less powerful and that's something we need to realize.

Men like to be men and do manly things, that's not going to change. Men like their egos stroked - FACT. And keeping their egos stroked helps keep the balance, the peace. Have you all heard the saying, "the man is the head of the household, while the woman is the neck"? It embodies the idea that women have control, we just don't have to throw it in a man's face. When we do that, that's when we lose balance and men begin to think of women who have achieved as power hungry b*tches who think they have bigger cahunas than the men in their lives. Is it so wrong and anti women's progression to believe that while women are achieving by leaps and bounds, it's still just as important to recognize a man's need to feel like a man?

As a woman who considers herself a feminist, my opinion may not be a popular one. What does a woman who is about female empowerment, look like slapping on an apron and getting down in the kitchen??

This is what she looks like ----->

Behold the apron wearing, heels in the kitchen, aspiring housewife feminist. I may be rare, but damnit I'm a movement.

**Look out for Pt. 2!