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".


  1. Yes, yes, and yes! This is honestly one of the best pieces that I've read regarding this subject.

    Your question...Can women also own their sexuality by withholding it? Yes indeed if this is what works for you. In fact I will go out on a limb and say that it is the very epitome of owning it because quite frankly and obviously you are not "giving it up". Am I making sense? lol

    There's so much more I can say on this but I feel like I would write a book lol.

  2. YES! A woman can own her sexuality and possess more power by withholding it. When I realized how much more I was worth, I held out until the right man came along AND respected me. When my current beau told me that he wanted to wait until I was ready, that showed me that I was worth more than my body. I totally agree with this post.

  3. It's so awesome to see that there are other women who understand this point of view! I was so hesitant to write about this topic because I assumed most people would look at me like I had 10 heads!

    And Terricha, the fact that your bf made that statement, is great! It really does show how much respect he has for you. I can only hope more men out here can do the same.