My mother scans my Facebook feed with hawk eyes. She likes every photo. She knows my close friends by name.
“What is... Queer Bomb?” she asks, staring at an LGBTQ pride event I nonchalantly clicked ‘Attending’ on.
”Everyone’s gonna know if you leave that up.”
“I don’t care,” I calmly reply.
“What if an employer sees it?” she snaps back, and I know she’s armed with retorts.
“It shouldn’t matter. Why would I want to work there if that would deter them?
”You don’t need anything else working against you, honey.”
“Well... maybe you’re right,” I mumble.
I scroll down to ‘Not Interested’ on the event. I delete the photo she thinks is too implicating. I double check my pronouns when I’m talking about dating. I don’t know if I abide by my mother’s requests because I want to appease her or because I’m a bit more scared of judgment than I’d like to admit.
I knew I was different from a very young age, but I didn’t quite know why.
When I was 6, I was scared of bloodthirsty pigeons attacking me from the sky. When I was 9, I watched the twin towers fall, and was scared my parents weren’t going to pick me up from school. When I was 12, I was scared of being called a faggot. When I was 14, I was scared to go to high school with my childhood bully. When I was 18, I was scared of being a faggot.
When I was 21, I cried after kissing a boy for the first time.
Since I was a kid, I’ve found ways to protect myself from the outside world. I’ve always been soft spoken. I kept my head down. I worked hard to get what I wanted without raising attention or getting in anyone else’s way. I tried to blend in, safely tucked away in my silence, burying the imperfect bits.
Imagine swallowing a large pill that's equal parts insecurities, shame and fear. You feel the lump as it travels down your esophagus and it sits heavy in the pit of your stomach. The pill sat lodged there for 21 years. I prayed it would digest and the feelings would pass, but the vomit eventually came spewing out. When I finally acknowledged who I was, I instantly felt 20 pounds lighter. I knew I could never go back.
I’m turning 24 soon, and I’m open about my sexuality with my close friends and family. Although I made a real effort to eliminate fear and shame in my life, I’ve recently had to reevaluate my decision not to publicly come out.
On June 12th, 2016, I sobbed three times after the Pulse nightclub shooting. The first time was when I read the news on Twitter. The second time, over the phone to my mom. The third time woke me up in the middle of the night and shook my body for hours.
I’ve been to the Latin night at the gay club in town. I imagine myself in the shoes of Eddie Justice, dancing with my friends, making eye contact with the guy across the dance floor or grabbing a drink at the bar. I imagine hearing those first gunshots ring out and fear jolting up my arms like electricity. I imagine running into a bathroom stall and frantically texting my mother before telling her “I’m gonna die” seconds before being gunned down in cold blood. The shooter did not care who he was or what his family would think when they found out or where he went to school or who he worked for or his IQ. He only cared about his sexuality. And he deserved to die for it.
Was Eddie’s death his coming out? Would his aunts and uncles be shocked to hear their nephew was in a gay club? Would his location have confirmed the suspicions of a childhood bully?
Maybe I’m projecting.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m living every day with two targets on my back,” I quietly sob to my mother. She doesn’t quite know how to respond, yet I can still hear the heartbreak in her voice.
My blackness can’t be hidden, but does my queerness still live behind a mask?
I didn’t publicly come out because I was scared of what would be assumed about my life. I didn’t come out because I wanted to preserve some semblance of heterosexuality and its privileges. The fear of discrimination controlled me. The fear of violence controlled me. My sexuality lives behind closed doors, but do I keep it locked away for my safety or my shame?
No matter how my sexuality is veiled, someone still wants me dead for it.
I’ve decided that’s worse. Living in solitude. Not being able to share who I am with the people I love. It’s bullshit. So, I’m done hiding. I won’t be shamed or scared into silence. This is my coming out.
If I’m to die, I’m going to die free and loud and beautifully. I love who I am, and you’re going to know it.
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“Bishop piled clothing on the victims after a robbery, dousing the clothes with cleaning fluid and setting them on fire. [All three] died in the pyre.”
I’ve never seen a photo of Bishop “The Torch Slayer,” but I assume he is tall, hulking and with glistening muscles. I am certain he is black. Bishop was one of the late L.A. photographer, Miles Everitt’s, models. The vast majority of Everitt’s photos are of burly black men – flexing, showering, swimming and performing other mundane activities. Some of the photos are in black and white, others are Polaroids. Nearly all of the men are nude or mostly nude.
The photos are uncomfortable to look at. I feel like a voyeur peeping into Everitt’s sexual fantasies made real. I am a woman who is sexually attracted to black men, but I don’t recognize anything in these images as erotic or arousing. They are not for my eyes. And apparently, it’s not my being a woman that detaches – it’s my blackness, according to artist M. Lamar.
If you watch Orange is the New Black, you’ll recognize Lamar. On the show, he plays the pre-transition “Sophia Burset,” aka “Marcus.” Sophia is played by Lamar’s twin-sister, actress Laverne Cox.
M. Lamar, who is black and queer, wants to make us feel even more uncomfortable with Everitt’s work and the obsession that motivated it. Lamar’s “Funeral Doom Spiritual” is a requiem for the traumatized black man. Lamar speaks of the objectification of black men as being central to the narrative of white supremacy, stemming back to slavery: “They construct a hyper-masculine ideal on one level (who can work in the field all day and f*ck all night) but also they’re afraid of that same thing. It’s all constructed in their nexus.” And though slavery is over, the fantasy remains: “If you watch porn and you type in ‘BBC’ or ‘big black cock’ and you see billions of postings and listings… that’s such a dominant fantasy… that white men are obsessed with… The vast majority of people producing pornography are white men.” White men such as Everitt.
Everitt began photographing nude black men in the 1930s. Though he never displayed his work publicly, he was prolific — filling boxes upon boxes with thousands of photos until shortly before his death in 1994. I attempted to view Everitt’s entire archive before Lamar’s show, but it would have taken me weeks to get through every album. And after flipping past the 100th nude, I got the idea.
Significantly, Lamar doesn’t include any visual representations of Everitt’s work. No recreations. No parodies. This could be interpreted as a nod to Everitt’s furtiveness, but I think Lamar’s aim is to suppress the exploitation of his lens. Instead of showing any of Everitt’s images, Lamar displays messages he put on the back of his photos – which brings us back to Bishop “The Torch Slayer.” Everitt taped the article detailing Bishop’s crimes to the back of his photograph. His instinct to do so demonstrates the other offshoot of obsession – not lust, but fear.
The line connecting lust and fear is what Lamar is attempting to draw in his work: “The same sexualization of our bodies is the same thing that leads to our deaths in violence at the hands of police officers.” That’s Lamar directly referencing the death of 18-year-old Mike Brown at the hands of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Lamar points to Wilson’s court testimony that Brown resembled a "demon.” Wilson told a grand jury, “When I grabbed him the only way I can describe it is I felt like a 5-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan.” Though Brown was heavier than Wilson, the two were virtually the same height. And Wilson was 10 years older than Brown. Still, Wilson sees Brown as superhuman, says Lamar: “He’s got a fantasy of black men that’s not unlike the fantasy of the big black cock. Sometimes I feel whiteness imagines black cocks as bigger because it’s just invested in that idea within white supremacy and that same impulse I think leads to the deaths of us by the hands of white people. I just think that it’s the same thing.”
And yet, it’s the image of the “scary black man” that is often most celebrated. To make that point, Lamar references the artist Robert Mapplethorpe’s “X-series,” which features graphic images of black men, most of them his lovers. (He was trying to find God in the black man’s penis, says a friend of Mapplethorpe.) In an HBO documentary about the art legend, model Ken Moody reveals that Mapplethorpe was obsessed with a certain type of black man: “There was a ghetto element to men he had the strongest attraction to. I had none of that. He’s quoted in an article as saying I was too white for him.” Lamar expands:
“It was interesting the Black people [Mapplethorpe] photographed – they didn’t seem to have a narrative or story that would precede his image of them. He wants to sculpt [black masculinity] in his own image. There isn’t a character like Jean-Michel Basquiat or Grace Jones — being these black people who would have been famous that he could have photographed that would have been in his scene — but he clearly didn’t *see* them. He didn’t see them if they weren’t a very particular kind of black man. And what he ended up doing is reproducing a particular kind of black man that was his fantasy. That’s just so fundamentally racist that if a person is thoughtful, educated, not hyper masculine, within a very particular white racist construct, then they’re not black.”
Lamar imagines “Funeral Doom Spiritual” as cathartic — a reprisal against the racist exploitation of black people in white supremacist America. One of the short films included in the work features Lamar presiding over several oversexed white male models. Another features a young white model with a whip sticking out of his rear end, a nod to Mapplethorpe’s famous self-portrait. By turning the oppressor into the oppressed, Lamar may have been trying to make statement on Black empowerment. But, I’m instead reminded of how white supremacy has negative consequences for everyone – including white males. We’re all bound to play a role – one we may not want to — and to deviate from the construct is to risk alienation from society. No one is truly free.
I can’t help but feel a sense of doom in viewing Lamar’s work. In the middle of the room sits a giant, beautifully-crafted, wooden coffin. And two small monitors show video of Lamar standing in a jail cell. I recall the phrase “dead or in jail,” which is where many young black men believe they will ultimately end up based on their life circumstances, lack of opportunities and their place in society.
Perhaps Lamar’s work lays bare the ultimate goal of white supremacy: To kill or to capture – in a jail cell or through a lens.
M. Lamar: Funeral Doom Spiritual is showing at the ONE Archives at the University of Southern California through July 30, 2016.
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Back in the early days of the internet when I first started watching porn, I noticed something. After watching several films, I saw that a lot of white porn stars were able to play a wide range of roles in films, but a lot of black characters were limited. For instance, white pornstars could play cowboys, doctors, bankers, football coaches, mechanics, etc. Most of the black pornstars were limited to robbers, rapists, or just generally bad people. Not only were they limited in the roles played, but most of them were tops, quite aggressive and super masculine. Whereas most of the white men in the film ranged from masculine to feminine to somewhere in between. Little did I know, I was hitting the tip of an iceberg when it came to black men, masculinity, and the gay community.
As a twenty-seven-year-old black gay man, I have grown accustomed to using hook-up sites and apps for much of my twenties. Sex has never been more quick and convenient. I once told a friend of mine that I could probably get a blowjob quicker than a pizza delivered. I feel as if that statement should be more telling of the time we live in than my appearance, but I digress. From the early days of Manhunt to even today with Grindr, I notice commonalities between the men on these sites. First, there a lot of people who don’t find black men sexually attractive. And those that do find them sexually attractive limit their attractiveness to physical appearance only.
I soon noticed more and more just how much black people didn’t fit into the gay culture; it was almost like we were invisible. Every time I went to a gay bar or club most of and sometimes all of the bartenders, waiters and go-go dancers were white or white-looking Latinos. Even the videos, posters, magazines and pamphlets scattered throughout featured white men. At one point, I remembered wondering to myself if I was even welcome there because I saw no representation of who I was.
How can you be yourself if you can’t see yourself?
Here in Atlanta during Labor Day weekend, the city is host to the annual Black Gay Pride event. When I first heard of it, I wasn’t sure how I felt. Mostly because I had a diverse group of gay friends and we all seemed to enjoy the "regular" pride just fine. I had been out for quite some time and I just didn’t understand why anyone felt the need to branch off and have their own. Now that I’m older and 'woke' as they say, it all makes much more sense. Those that branched off and started their own pride did it because they got tired of not seeing themselves represented accurately in mainstream gay culture, and I can’t say that I disagree.
Representation is extremely important in influencing the minds and ideas of others, especially young people. I remember watching the show Queer as Folk when I was young and being mesmerized at the life these gay men lived. And then I remember feeling angry because the show hardly depicted any black characters. When they did appear they were usually used for sexual objectification and nothing else. That was it, that was the only thing that I had to represent who I was or who I was to become. Where were the shows and characters that depicted us as the beautiful, well-rounded, flawed human beings that we want to be seen as?
After years on hook-up sites and apps, I found that black gay men had a place in gay culture after all, but it wasn’t a place I, nor anybody else, would feel comfortable being in. Every time I logged onto a site I would get the same messages. “Can I suck your big black cock?” “I need a masculine thug to manhandle me” “Would love to see that big Mandingo dick” or my favorite “How hung?" I’m not the most masculine guy ever, but I’m also not the most feminine. I don’t think anyone has ever described me as a thug and even though I’m somewhat muscular I wouldn’t feel comfortable manhandling someone, especially during sex. I felt like I was missing something. Did I miss Ebony Sex 1101 in college? Why do gay men have unrealistic ideas for sex with black men, to which none I can subscribe myself to? Some of this answer has to do with the environment a lot of black men, gay and straight, grow up in, and some of it has to do with the culture itself.
In gay culture, black men have been marginalized and stereotyped into being hyper-masculine, always top, well-endowed, aggressive thugs who have nothing more to add to society than sex. If you watch any porn featuring a black actor, this will quickly become apparent. This marginalization is horrifically sad because being gay and black are so much more than those things. The even sadder part is that we've already been marginalized and stereotyped by not only the general public but our own community beforehand.
In the black community, men are taught to hide emotions, pride and any sense of vulnerability, at a very early age. We are taught to 'man up' about things that would break even the strongest of people. With that, any sign of femininity is often regarded as less than human. Micro-aggressions and slurs such as 'sissy,' 'f*ggot,' 'p*ssy' and 'queen' were thrown around in casual conversation over the dinner table. All uttered by preachers, community leaders, politicians, and fathers; even at times my own. What that does is breed a culture of men with hyper-masculine qualities, no range of emotional stability, and a distinct fear of being themselves because every male (and often female) figure in their life has already told them what they should be.
I was lucky to have parents who didn’t put that kind of pressure on me. I’m sure they could tell at an early age that I was gay, but my masculinity and femininity weren't something that I felt I could control. I was just being me. Thank God that was good enough for them. That doesn’t mean I didn’t grow up around a ton of homophobia — because I did. It broke my heart to hear people that I love and respected talk about people just like me as if they were less than an animal. At times, it made me question my own sexuality, but it was something I accepted quickly and I wear my homosexuality proudly to this day. I also know not everyone was that lucky.
Some gay and bi men never let go of the pressures and homophobia formed during childhood. Some wind up marrying women and cheating with men behind their backs. That’s where we get the 'Down Low' from. Even today, in 2016, gay men can legally marry one another but we still have men living on the Down Low. For What? The sad thing is there a ton of men perfectly happy living a double life as such. That might be part of the reason for the underrepresentation of black gay men in gay culture. We just won’t come out of the closet.
Another issue lies in the fact that lots of gay men still hold masculinity up on a pedestal as the prototype for all things gay. Log on to any hook-up and it will be all over profiles. “Masc4Masc” “Masculine Only” “No Fems” add to that the use of pictures depicting them doing the most masculine thing imaginable to project the image of masculinity. There is nothing wrong with being masculine and wanting your sexual partner to be the same. The problem is when you feel as if that masculinity should be superior to other forms of gayness because gayness, just like blackness, isn’t just one thing; it’s a spectrum of many. Every time I open a hook-up app I can’t help but feel bad for anyone who isn’t masculine because that’s all I ever see. When are we going to stop being ashamed of who we are?
Carrying that shame over your head for being yourself can leave black men, and any man in general, feeling horrifically isolated and alone; I know first hand how it feels. Even when they do get the courage to come out and assimilate into the gay culture, they find themselves right back at square one. You’re supposed to be masculine, top, aggressive, no signs of any emotions, and absolutely no signs of femininity. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? As a black gay man, living in a city with a very large gay population, I run into this problem constantly. I do not fit the prototype of what I'm supposed to be and I never will. If nobody is going to give me the representation that I want, then I will create it myself by being myself and encouraging other men, of all races, to do the same.
But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop fighting. Not all gay men look like Sean Cody models, or like they just walked out of an ad for Abercrombie & Fitch. Black gay men exist. We are not invisible. Nor are we the one-note characters you sometimes see us depicted as. We are creative, talented, diverse and more than anything we just want someone to acknowledge and encourage our presence in the universe.
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One of my favorite things to talk about is sex. It's also one of my favorite subjects to teach not because I'm a nasty girl, but because I'm self-aware and 'innerstand' sex is life, breath, creativity and spirituality. It's how we all got here. Sex is everything to our existence and yet there is so much taboo and ignorance around the subject. It's not really our fault, considering many of us learned from others who also had no clue about the true nature of sex. Consider how you know what you know about your body and sex. There can be so much timidity around a discussion about sex, but I encourage more candid conversation, as this is one of the best ways to learn about something that is believed to be so naughty.
If your sources of information were anything like mine, i.e. church and religion, parents, school (sex ed), peers, then there's a good chance you're a bit slow in the sexual awareness department. No worries, I got you!
But you must be willing to explore information that might be totally and completely counter what you think you know because what you think you know about sex might be keeping you boxed in and caged, blocking you from your highest sexual potential. Time to get free.
My mission is to help every woman 'innerstand' the value of sex and her body so that we can heal ourselves, each other and our world. Yep, it's deep like that. Folks here in the west have major issues around sex. Though things are rapidly changing, we tend to shy away from the topic or promote sexual perversion and deviancy.
But what if I told you the powers of sex can be used for good, that sex can be a form of spirituality? It's something we hardly touch here in the west because we are, for the most part, products of religious dogma that rejects the flesh, women's sexuality, and nature — all very important components of a practice called 'Sacred Sex.'
The ancients knew the power of sex other than mutual masturbation (what most people do when there's no heart involved). Lineages like Tantra — Kemetic, Hindu, and Tibetan Buddhist, as well as the wisdom of the Tao, were all about that spiritual and sexual integration. If you so dare, reach back into indigenous lineages and their views about sex and you will discover sex, the female body, fertility, and communication with nature were major pieces to the way life was revered and lived.
Sex is more than a way to procreate, more than a way to birth ourselves from spirit into matter. It is also a delicious form of communication, a tool for healing and transformation, a journey of transmutation and spiritual alchemy, and a vehicle to optimal health and wellness — what the ancients called immortality.
Sex, when practiced intentionally, is a form of prayer, a medium of devotion encased in love. Sacred sex is the act of sex from a place of love and devotion while acknowledging and seeking to connect to the divinity that resides within all of us. It's not sex only for the sake of pleasure. It's not sex seeking power or control over another. Sacred sex is a form of prayer and worship at the altar of creation itself. Approaching every sexual encounter with the same level of respect and reverence you do your pastor and your church will elevate your experience in ways you never imagined. Practiced in this way, sex becomes a ritual of acknowledging the divinity in yourself and your partner.
How practicing sacred sex can heal us
We can always assess the spiritual/mental health and wellness of the collective community by listening to and watching the youth. Well, by the looks of reality television and music, we're not doing so well. Other than the few gentle moments claimed by Drake, hip-hop reflects a population of men far out of touch with their hearts and the magic of tenderness. There are very few examples of adoration or respect for women, for sex, for love or romance.
And the women, may Mama Goddess bless our hearts, we are also far removed from knowing ourselves and the power innately possessed with being a woman that we accept all the crazy the men are serving. We agree to having our backs blown out and our Yoni (vagina) beat up. We think that it's cute, so desensitized to real heart connection we believe there isn't much happening unless he's beating something up.
Our culture is one that perverts sexuality and diminishes its potential. Sexual deviancy and hypersexuality are praised as norms. We can do better. We must know that we are more and we deserve more. Practicing sex as a sacred, spiritual practice can help us restore respect for ourselves and each other.
The truth is, we want to connect with each other deeply. We want otherworldly sex, but most of us are just f*$king. We need sex; it’s how we all got here – passionate, sweaty, messy, liberated sex! We need heart-connected sex and less heartless, disconnected sex. Sex is the way we communicate on a soul level. It’s the way we express all we can't with words. Sex heals, and innately we know this.
I strongly believe sacred sex is a solution to many of our problems.
We’re all wounded and in need of healing from these deep wounds of self-loathing. It all starts with the way we see ourselves. Religion has some of us thinking we're separate from divinity and desires of the flesh are unholy. But the opposite is so. We're all suffering because we refuse to acknowledge the divinity of the feminine. We have turned our backs on not only ourselves but the divine mother, the womb, the Yoni, life principles and creative forces. We can start to reverse this spell by practicing love on the deepest level for her, ourselves, and each other.
What we don't need are aggression and perversion within the context of sex. I believe we need men to participate in zero shaming of women. I think we need women to be 100 percent accountable to our own experiences. We need women who are unapologetically sexually liberated. I think we need, as women, to understand men are men. They are not us. They connect to love through their penis. I think men need to understand we are not them and women connect to love through our hearts by way of our Yonis. We all need to become more relaxed in our sexual nature and allow ourselves to be the divine beings we are. We need to know sex is sacred and we can heal each other with it.
For more on this topic, read 'The Sacred Sex Bible' and 'Tao of Sexology.'
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Did you know April is Sexual Assault Awareness month? Perhaps it’s why organic conversations seem to keep popping up around the topic. Social media platforms have been in a frenzy this week over Erykah Badu’s comments in support of a New Zealand school rule mandating girls wear their skirts at knee length so "not to distract the boys and male staff.” Folk are pissed off about the analog girl’s perspective of men and nature and their attraction to girls "of childbearing age."
Some perceived her sentiments as victim blaming, words allowing nasty a-- men off the hook for their nasty a--, perverted tendencies. They heard her telling girls to cover up their bodies lest they be targets for sexual predators. Some went as far to remind her that rapists will rape no matter what a girl wears. But I thought, wait... when did we start talking about rapists?
Funny, because what I heard was Badu agreeing with actions that aren’t about dissuading sexual predators more than they are about young women and girls being aware of themselves and their surroundings. I heard words encouraging young girls to be responsible to themselves and for their own safety in a society driven by sexual deviancy.
I hear her speaking to self-awareness in a similar way that some believe spirits whisper in our ears when precautions are in order to ward off dangers we might not see with our eyes. She is asking our girl children to become aware of the world they live in, a world where men are sexually attracted to the female body by nature but are sometimes misguided by their lack of personal awareness. She is encouraging our girl children to have awareness of their bodies and know they might attract attention they don't want.
I think Badu speaks to self awareness our girls must have in order to embody a sense of self-respect, something that then elicits respect from others and can potentially ward off bulls*%t. It’s called energetic shielding.
Badu then took the time to clarify her position:
Let's be clear!
Awareness requires us as a society to be responsible for our choices. It requires us to become sensitive to the reality of the collective ignorance and immaturity we hold in regards to the body and sexuality.
Awareness requires us to be conscientious about the reality of society’s ignorance of the sanctity of sex and the human body.
Awareness requires we be sensitive to the reality that when these conversations present themselves there is an inclination to immediately position men as predators and women as victims. The harsh reality is that boys and men experience sexual violence too. Women commit acts of sexual violence too.
What is hard for me to watch over and over is the blame game. Any time women are asked to be a tad bit accountable on any level there are those who are super triggered, ready to call foul and make accusations of slut-shaming. Can we stop this already? As E. Badu asked, "Can we not be MODEST without feeling SUPPRESSED?"
Although there are many good reasons and far too many examples of sexual violence against women to support the sensitivity, knee-jerk reactions that push conversations way out of context are counter productive. I’m not sure how any real strides can be made if there's no tolerance for conversations to be had that call for self-awareness without efforts being labeled as victim-blaming or slut-shaming. I’d like to think we can do better, that we are much more advanced in our ability to listen and respond rather than impulsively react. Are we seeking to make real change or waddle in the problems?
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!
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On Monday, The Guardian published an article about how female students in Auckland, New Zealand have been asked to lower their skirts to knee-level to stop distracting male students and teachers. In response, Erykah Badu started a thread about her thoughts on the issue that flipped #BlackTwitter upside down.
Badu insisted that it is "natural" for women who are of child-bearing age to attract men, and that it is "fair to everyone" for young women to "protect" themselves by wear knee-lengths skirts.
The validity of her statement is clearly open to interpretation. Even so, no matter where she stands on the subject, there are a few things that we can take away from her tweet storm.
We need more education about pedophilia.
While there may be truth behind men being naturally attracted to women of child-bearing age, pedophilia is still a reality, often only addressed in television shows and movies. Schoolgirls are not adults; they're children. If there's an issue of sexual abuse or rape involving a male teacher and female student, let's not throw it up to him having been 'naturally' attracted to the student.
Dress codes do NOT have the ability to prevent pedophilia, rape or sexual abuse.
Covering up a student, will not stop a pedophile or rapist from being attracted to him or her. While there should be a standard dress code that treats both genders equally, enforcing one will not make deeply-rooted sexual issues disappear into thin air.
It's time to get rid of our double standards about male and female sexuality.
Let's not forget that males don't always play the role of the abuser in cases of sexual abuse; sometimes they can be victims as well. Sexual abuse isn't the blame of one gender, and most certainly shouldn't fall onto the laps of young women who wear above-the-knee skirts.
We shouldn't consider the sexuality of children to be the same as adults.
If we're saying that we're protecting our youth, we really need to protect them. Considering their sexuality to be equal to that of adults does more harm than good, and opens up the playing field for more sexual abuse to occur.
What did you think about Erykah Badu's tweet storm? Share below.
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Recent comments from Erykah Badu have sparked outrage from her fans. Read her series of tweets below:
Okay. So some of y'all are upset. Badu's comments have brought a continuing conversation to the forefront around policing women's sexuality and victim blaming for the actions of men against women. It's true that no woman's attire (or lack thereof) is to blame for any male's sexual aggression, inappropriate language, or abuse toward said woman. I personally don't believe that a man's purported behavioral makeup makes me a culpable party in his actions toward me. I especially feel that biology isn't some flag to be waved, excusing or empathizing with predatory males on young girls. This is problematic thinking. Are you with me so far? Okay. Here's are questions I will pose to you:
WHO IS ERYKAH BADU?
Not the singer. Not the songwriter. Not the fashion icon. Who is Badu, the human being? What are her core values, what are her fears, how was she raised, where do her trains of thought lead her — hell, what's her favorite food? I don't know. You probably don't either, yet across our community there is an associated "Queen of Woke" crown attributed to Ms. Badu. Why? We can assume that her personal value set is reflected in her music, but we can't confirm. The advent of marketing and branding has made many the uplifted icon, but did Marcus Garvey have a PR team? I'm just sayin', y'all! Even if her art is reflective of (some of) her beliefs, Badu the human — like all of us — is a complex and fallible being. If we assume that she shared our core values and someday discover that she doesn't, does that invalidate her art and the depth and meaningfulness with which it affected the culture? If public opinion says that Badu is not 'woke,' will we now sleep on everything she's done and will do?
We can take issue with Badu for what she says because she is speaking on a public forum, and therefore opening herself up to critique. We should also reflect on why we put so much stock in the perception of who we think she is. Celebrity is an image we choose to deify, a narrative we continue to exalt in our minds, never knowing what is true and what is not. Modeling ourselves after or making goals attributed to famed musicians, actors, artists or athletes becomes an issue when we're looking at people instead of achievements. Why do we say, "I want to be like Oprah" instead of "I'd like to change the landscape of modern media?" I don't know Oprah. By her achievements, I can assume that she's smart, ambitious and persistent. I assume nothing about who she is as a person, yet many would find no problem in making her the benchmark of personal and professional success.
Where do we draw the line between the propped up person in our minds whose work might have great meaning to us and the reality of the human being? Because we have to start drawing that line. Call out Erykah Badu's comments when you don't agree, but let's stop acting like we're all woke, all the time. This is a teaching moment, for her and for us, so let's all — as India Arie sings — come back to the middle.
What do you think about our idolization of celebrities and Badu's comments? Let us know in the comments below!
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Erykah Badu surprised Malcolm X High School in Newark, NJ by dropping by during their lunch hour to sing her debut single "On & On". But that wasn't the only surprise she had in store for Monday.
When she returned to her Twitter feed, she had a word to share on sexual natures.
There was an article ruling that high school girls lower their skirts so male teachers are not distracted. I agreed because...
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) April 12, 2016
...I am aware that we live in a sex l-driven society. It is everyone's, male and female's, responsibility to protect young ladies...
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) April 12, 2016
...one way to protect youth is to remind them we are all sexual in nature and as they grow and develop it is natural to attract men...
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) April 12, 2016
Badu went on to say that it's natural for men to be attracted and aroused by girls of child-bearing age, but that it's not the fault of these girls for being beautiful. However, men should be responsible and taught not to prey on these young women. And instead called for greater awareness of these energies when it comes to how we carry ourselves in each other's presence.
...I want my daughters to understand this. I want them to be themselves and wear what they like, yet be aware. Not ignore our differences...
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) April 12, 2016
And drew many face palms for her would-be dress code
...if I had a school I would make sure that the uniform skirt length was a nice knee length... It is fair to everyone...
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) April 12, 2016
But remained on message
...But do I think it is unnatural for a heterosexual male 2b attracted to a young woman in a revealing skirt? No. I think it is his nature..
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) April 12, 2016
..Consequently, we must all be aware and responsible.
We must protect our young women. We must teach our young men...
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) April 12, 2016
...young women you are beautiful. Young men you are beautiful. Protect one another.
— ErykahBadoula (@fatbellybella) April 12, 2016
And then dropped this word
No doubt her mentions are still going on & on
And folks were on mute mode because they weren't prepared to add to their list of problematic faves.
Some people tried to make sense of it...tried.
We can't control men. All we can really do is our best to protect our selves and our daughters. I think THATS was Erykah was Tryna say.
— Quan Chii (@kissmeQuan) April 12, 2016
Ohana... means everybody in the human family can get the business!
Nobody deified no damn Erykah Badu. She getting the business like anyone else because she is anyone else.
— Thugga Gooding, Jr. (@DearLeader10) April 12, 2016
And some folks just disowned Erykah and any adjectives agreeing with her. This was a bit harsh, sis.
The onus is always on girls/woman no matter the situation & I'm over it. If you're a female, yes female consigning Erykah Badu then fcuk you
— NaijaGal (@Naija4LifeO) April 12, 2016
And somebody's momma weighed in with this word
my mom's take on erykah's tweets rn pic.twitter.com/METIQP6ApU
— Lavish Lee (@hdssuh) April 12, 2016
Finally some facts in the mayhem.
Your #MCM supports Erykah Badu's views on how women should dress. #ErykahBadu
— ℕUFF$AID (@nuffsaidNY) April 12, 2016
And naturally, some people didn't get it...naturally.
Told underage chicks to stop dressing like hoes RT @JayZOverrated: wait what erykah badu did? lmfao
— Uncle Wayne. (@WayneL_Jr) April 12, 2016
But will balance be restored?
Exactly RT @Fancy_Free_: y'all are undermining Erykah's message.. she addressed BOTH parties. Both. pic.twitter.com/bjxO5oL6rg
— MJ (@ItsMJ254) April 12, 2016
So...what do you think of this all? Share your thoughts below!
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When your man tells you he wants to "beat it up," he's most certainly referring to rough sex. From what I can tell many women have adopted this way of receiving sex: Hard and fast, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. Some treat it as if a man isn't serving it up rough, he's not doing anything. Men who make love this way approach it like a sport: Racing to the finish line like they have something to prove, not realizing the power in grace and ease.
There is nothing sexy or appealing to me when a man says he wants to "bust my back out." I'm like, "You wanna do what? No, thanks."
What fun is there in pounding it out when your man hasn't taken the time to heat you up? Here's the deal: Men, nine times out 10, don't need much inspiration other than pure attraction. But women on the other hand need to be approached like cold water in a tea kettle. We need time to heat up. There is a common misconception that if a woman shows any sign of moisture then she's ready. Wrong!
If a woman shows signs of moisture, it means her body is working. Unfortunately, even some women don't have this understanding of our own bodies. Many of us do not know to encourage our partners to keep the play going so we may become overflowing with bliss allowing the yoni to become fully expanded and ready to receive. When he goes for the score I simply whisper, "I'm not ready."
Some of you are reading this going, "Speak for yourself" or "I like it rough" and "I stay ready!" To all of that I say good for you, and keep reading.
I cannot explain the excitement I experience when I meet a man eager to make love to me in a way that is gentle and tender. I love the effort of a man who understands the power of taking his time with my body, as if he's studying my anatomy and knows what to do. I love a man who can listen to the desires of my body simply because of his intention to do so.
Male and female anatomy
When the penis and vagina are untied during intercourse they are a force, one passive, one active — a live electromagnetic circuit. The vagina represents a negative pole, passive and receptive while the penis represents a positive pole active and giving. The two come together and make electricity, formulating an energetic field that has the power to heal and create.
When there is a lot of hard, fast thrusting the vagina responds by creating a wall to protect itself and then becomes somewhat desensitized. A woman's vagina is way more receptive to a man's penis when she is fully aroused. Sure, aggressive sex can be fun and pleasurable but slow, deep, intentional love making is just as amazing. In fact, in my humble opinion, much more gratifying. Slow sex encourages deep intimacy. Frequent, fast sex can delay it. If you haven't already, try it and thank me later.
For more information on this topic read: 'Tantric Orgasm for Women'
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There is nothing more empowering and uplifting than women owning their femininity. You might have seen this on a surface level with all this #blackgirlmagic being thrown in the air like pixie dust.
Women often revel in knowing we are brilliant, strong and equal to men. Rarely do we bask in knowing our sexuality is one of our greatest utilities.
Gone are the days when shut-eyed men and women are allowed to project their petty perspectives onto sexually-liberated women as truth. Sex is how we all got here! It's not only a tool for procreation, it's also a tool for healing and manifestation. Woke women do not seek validation or permission to be overflowing with sexual bliss. Orgasms keep us sane, healthy, happy and whole.
Love coach and expert, Kenya K. Stevens of Jujumama graces us with her wisdom and reminds us why sexually liberated women are so dope!
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Cheetah in August is about the journeys of the main character, August Chandler (Andre Myers) from his high school years into adult life and touches on the topics of sexuality, love, religion, psychology and self-hate. Watch the other episodes...
Have you ever been to a comedy show where the walls were lined with sex toys? We have. At Feelmore510, a black-owned sex shop in downtown Oakland, monthly comedy nights are just one of the many ways owner Nenna Joiner connects with her community. Feelmore has hosted political events, fundraising nights and even paired with Walgreens to give flu shots. Joiner says it's all part of an effort to live up to the store's tagline: "It's more than just sex."
Blavity sat down with Joiner to discuss her community-minded business model, the perseverance required of black entrepreneurs and what it means to embrace black female sexuality.
Blavity: How did you get into this line of work?
Nenna Joiner: My aunt worked for San Francisco AIDS Health Foundation. She had young kids, so she would teach them about sex, and I was like 19 or 20 coming from my home in Las Vegas where we didn't talk about body. So she gave me a book about the sexual anatomy of a woman. That lead me to go into our local sex shop. I looked around, and I was like, "Oh, this is cool, but this is not really where I want to shop on a consistent basis." That wasn't really my idea of what a sex shop should look like.
I think people should be dressed up when you're selling sex. I think you should be sexy when you're selling sex. So that, and then going into sex shops and seeing different things that people had and thinking, "Oh if I had that, this is what I'd do," and basically playing out my vision in my mind even before I had it.
B: Are there many black women in the sex toy industry?
NJ: No. I went to the Adult Video Network convention in Las Vegas to do research before I opened. They had two huge convention centers — one was all video and the other one was novelty. I went up to the adult video part and there were some people of color, but they were starring in and directing the films. And that is not the bulk of the money because there's no ownership. So I went down to the novelty center, and there were not many blacks. I mean, one or two in the whole thing. And I said, "this is where I need to be." On the business side of it.
B: What kind of obstacles did you face opening the store?
NJ: Always money. I think African Americans traditionally have had issues with loans. So I had to use my own money and I was as frugal as I possibly could be. Like I got this desk off of Craigslist for $100. But the main obstacle was finding a person who would rent to me because if your business doesn't have a reputation — good or bad — no one can find you, no one can see what your vision really looks like. I actually went through 40 'no's, to get one 'yes.' And this building is owned by an African-American man.
The second thing — because of the type of business — was making sure it was zoned appropriately. We had to go through a lot, because a lot of people were opposed to us coming in. During my presentation to the city, it was a packed room. It felt like a club in there, because people were coming to speak out against me. People came in saying, "Oh, she's gonna be sex trafficking kids," and all this kind of stuff. I mean, it was just bad, as if I was pimping and pandering. And again, that's because nobody knew the vision. And when people don't trust your vision, they're going to oppose you.
B: What does it feel like selling sex?
NJ: The feeling of selling sex as a black person, for me, is about empowerment. Because I'm in this industry, I still get laughed at. I still get stigmatized and ostracized. I think for anybody wanting to get into this business, you have to be very confident in yourself. I mean, I honestly had to pray about opening a sex store. It was important because I did not want to — you know how you can get into a situation and think, "Should I have done that?" I don't have that.
Society boxes people. Information will f*ck with you to the point where you start to denounce your dreams and what you really, really want to do. And there's just so much empowerment around owning your choices and being okay. Having a resolve around what you set out to do.
B: As black women, we're told that our bodies are inherently sexual. We're depicted in media as hypersexualized, and our bodies are used as props by musicians. Do these narratives factor into your line of work?
NJ: I think the black body, in general, has always been policed or highly laughed at if you will. One thing we do — so you look around at the product boxes in here and you won't see people on there. Here, you'll see the colors of the products, but most sex shops will have people on there. We take items out of those kinds of boxes, so you don't have this objectivity of body. I want someone to feel empowered by picking something up. I don't want them to feel disempowered as they're reaching for a product and there's an image of a person on the box that does not look anything like them. And I'm not just saying race, but also with body image — thinness, thickness or whatever it is. We don't want people thinking they're not adequate.
B: What advice would you give to black women when it comes to embracing their sexuality?
NJ: You could either own a home or you're renting. And so the idea is, where are you in your sexuality? Are you owning the home, or are you renting it? Sex, I think, is about creativity. It's not about body. People will pick up products and say, "Well how do I use it?" And I'm like, "However you want to use it!" You take it home and it's up to your imagination. The true normal is, you might put it under your armpit and get off better. I think people are just so stuck. We're so stuck in thinking that sex is just right between the apex of the legs, and not really exploring the entire body.
And know your points. Sex gets bad when we start to close up. We start to remember our trauma. And I think it's there where the work needs to be — around our trauma. It may be sexual trauma or it could be life trauma, but we just need to check ourselves and say, "This makes me feel good, this doesn't make me feel good," or, "This makes me feel slutty — I still like it." And take ownership of that. And know that with each age, and each day, as you progress as a person — your sex is going to get better. But it's only going to get better as long as you're open to getting better in life. [And with the code BLA510 Blavity readers will receive 15% off their purchase during the month of October.]
B: I noticed you have events, such as comedy nights. How did you decide to do that?
NJ: In the beginning, I did so many events to create context around the store and what we're about. The tagline is: "It's more than just sex." We've done flu shots in here with Walgreens, we've had political events in here, fundraising events. We also had a panel called "Ask a Ho" here, and it was around sex workers. We wanted to hear their experiences and it was a packed house.
It's just about doing stuff out in the community, because it's really hard to get out there to speak about sex, other than about prevention. It's great to speak about HIV, but the joy of sex is something different. So what we wanted to do was create a novelty around some of the events that we have that make people talk about it, and doing those kind of things where we're not just doing sex stuff. People can find anything here — they're like "Comedy? You got comedy in here? I can get condoms and comedy?"
B: What other plans do you have for the store? What does the future of Feelmore look like?
NJ: We definitely want to franchise and open more stores. I would like to get more African Americans in on franchising the business because I think it would be powerful in our communities. But we also have to come with a brand that shows the community what we're about and how we're going to operate in the community. It's about being a part of the city and being a community person — knowing it's not just about sex.
Inspired? Intrigued? Aroused? Share your reactions in the comments below. ...