All Articles Tagged "black women"
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you have a ratchet friend in your life. Don’t feel bad, we all do. I bet you can think of that friend right now: the one who finds new and exciting ways to make his or her life as stressful as possible. The one who says she (or he) should be on a reality show, and you know they mean Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta. In my mind, ‘ratchetness’ has less to do with implications of etiquette/appropriateness, and more to do with the ability one has to relish in needlessly stressful situations. Whether it’s work-related drama or relationship problems, we all have that friend who seems addicted to drama. In fact, most of us have been that friend at least once or twice in our lives.
What’s that you say? Not you? Just me? It’s cool. I’ll own it.
Whether you define ‘ratchetness’ as a set of isolated practices or a consistent state of mind, we can all use some tips for communicating with our strong-willed friends. These steps can help us:
Stop calling your ratchet friend a ratchet (remove judgement): NYC relationship coach, Trenia Parham, encourages us to “…focus on the other person’s humanity, instead of reducing them to a flaw or mistake they’ve made. People are whole, flawed, complex beings. Both saint and sinner.” While you may not call your friend a ratchet to her face, if you’re already judging your friend, then real communication is impossible. Just like we can tell when someone is silently undermining us, you can’t support someone you don’t respect.
Check yourself (assess your intentions): “I think the way we communicate with friends that are full of drama is more about [us] than about them,” Parham said. To that end, we have to ask ourselves how WE are gratified by constantly being the go-to friend. Does it make us feel needed? Smart? Loved? Important? Parham goes on to say that our friends don’t need our advice as much as we think they do. “[Your friend] has as much agency to be as ‘ratchet’ as she wants to be, but now you have to decide if that’s something you want to be around, and that makes you responsible for your part.”
Talk less; listen better (listen actively): Active listening is defined as a way of communication that promotes mutual understanding. What does that mean in real time? Parham offers us grounded examples. “Stop formulating responses in your head while the other person is talking. Put down your phone or thoughts about what you have to do when the conversation is over, and focus on the person sitting across from you. Does your friend need a friend to listen to or a therapist? As a friend, stop trying to fix it, that’s not your place.” It’s when we open our hearts and practice listening WHILE being empathetic, and sometimes all a person needs is space to vent. I truly believe everyone has wisdom and knows what’s right for them. And when a person has a safe space to talk things through, they can generally find the answers they’ve been looking for.
Step 4. Keep it real (practice compassionate honesty): One of the biggest pieces of advice Parham gives is to refrain from offering unsolicited advice. At the beginning of the conversation (or at the end of the rant), ask if they’re open to hearing your take on the matter. “If they want your opinion, offer it with honesty, but don’t wield the truth like a weapon,” Parham said. “Hearing something you may not want to hear is hard enough without someone delivering the truth without tact. Make the decision to be supportive regardless of if they want to do things your way.” At every turn, we have to let go of our own agenda for our friends. There is a chance that you will give an epic pep talk full of great advice, and most of it will go unfollowed. As friends, we have to learn to be supportive without being attached to the outcome.
Know when to end the conversation (set boundaries): Many folks (ratchet or otherwise) live their lives in circles. They keep dating the same guy; they keep having the same fight with their boss, and while they pretend to want your advice they really just want to keep venting. Though we think that being a good friend means we have to listen every single time, Parham believes that having healthy relationships means setting our own boundaries. “Be honest. If they keep getting cheated on by the same dude and aren’t willing to leave the relationship, tell them you don’t want to talk about it anymore if she’s not ready to do something about it.” I know, from personal experience, when I listen against my will, I’m more likely to gossip out of frustration. That’s not helpful to anyone involved.
University educator and creator of the brilliant #lemonadesyllabus, Candace Marie Benbow recently Instragramed herself wearing a shirt that said, “Ratchetness as praxis.” I love the shirt because, though the word has different meanings in different circles/contexts, it hints at a truth: There isn’t ONE acceptable and credible way of existing in the world. ‘Ratchetness,’ for all its negative implications, is beautifully unapologetic. To that end, the only real advice one needs, when thinking about how to support our headstrong homies, is to take five giant steps back and trust that they have it under control. We can call this minding our own business, or we can, as Parham encourages, call it an attempt to “stop looking at people like they’re broken. When you see your friend going through a hard time, think about how you would want someone to treat you in your messiest moments.”
And that, in a nutshell, is how we can help a ratchet (and ourselves).
Patia Braithwaite is a New York City-based writer who is probably somewhere being ratchet right now (whatever that means). You can find out more about her relationship and travel exploits at www.menmyselfandgod.com. She also tweets and Instagrams when the mood strikes her: @pdotbrathw8
Deciding to go back to the gym wasn’t an easy decision for me. I’d damaged a tendon in my knee during the Philadelphia half-marathon, and the pain sent me to the couch (where I decided to stay for about three years).
To get back on track, I needed help. I loved my hardcore lady trainer, and we’d become friends over the years, but I grew up with a brother and have always thrived in competition with guys. I decided, this time around, I’d work with a man. I’d been through this with my friends: scouring Instagram to find beautiful male personal trainers who looked like they could crush me with their arms, but they weren’t for me. I didn’t want to be distracted by a good-looking personal trainer. I didn’t want to worry about sweating too much or feel embarrassed if I farted during my ab workout (it happens).
This was a gift I was giving to myself. I wanted to focus on me.
With all of these thoughts, I went to my local gym and picked the trainer with credentials that seemed perfect. We’ll call him Frank, a former football player who specialized in rehabilitating runners with knee injuries. He was significantly older than I and looked it. The front desk woman told me everyone loved his Southern hospitality, and a quick Google search uncovered that he was also an off-Broadway actor who’d been happily married for over 20 years.
He felt right, but I discovered I was wrong…
Almost every woman I know is subjected to some form of harassment daily. Whether she’s being cat-called on the street or stared down in the supermarket, we often have to ignore the unwelcome advances of men. As a result, the hairs on our neck are attuned to the subtle (and not-so-subtle) advances of strangers.
When Frank’s texts became one too many smiley-face emojis before our first session, I grew uneasy. When he complimented my body and told me I didn’t need to lose any weight, I tried to convince myself that he was just attempting to be encouraging. When he tried to help me lift the weights, I became irritated because that’s just not beneficial (and also because I was struggling to lift 30 pounds by myself). When he slid his hand a bit too low while helping me into a stretch, I became confused.
By our third session, which he closed with a hug, I was weirded out.
“My trainer is a bit too touchy,” I told a friend. “You know I don’t like to be touched.”
“You should say something,” she said in response.
“Nah, I’m probably tripping. You know how I just hate being touched.”
It wasn’t until the phone calls, and text messages started, that I understood what my gut already knew.
“I try to keep it professional,” he said in a text message, “but if I wasn’t married, I think we’d be together.”
I searched my mind: Was I too friendly? Did I send the wrong message? The truth is, I should be able to joke and laugh with my personal trainer. So, at that moment, while he was waiting for a response, I owned the fact that there was nothing I could’ve done to avoid the situation. If I’d worn sweats instead of leggings, if I’d smiled less and been a little colder, the result would’ve been the same. I’m also not stupid enough to think I am special. I’m sure he’s done something like this to all his female clients.
I waited a few days before responding:
“Hey, just wanna give you a heads up. I’m terminating our training.”
He apologized, and I informed him that I wouldn’t accept. Instead, I told him that during the five block walk that it takes to get from my apartment to the gym, I’m propositioned by men between almost daily. I informed him that while men will accost me everywhere, I won’t bite my tongue in the presence of someone in my employ.
“Is there anything I can do?” he asked.
“We’re done here,” I texted back.
He had proven what I sensed from his first text: He was a creeper who exploits the trust of his clients.
Ultimately, it was enough for me to terminate my relationship with my trainer without coming for his job. Trust me; I thought about it several times. Maybe I’m a punk, but in the end, I felt that if I lodged a formal complaint, I’d have to switch gyms. I didn’t want that. I like my gym. Maybe this was an inherently selfish choice, but I felt like it was enough for me to remove myself from that situation. I felt like karma would do the rest of the work. And in the end, that proved to true. He was only in the gym for a few more weeks before he up and disappeared from it.
There’s no moral to this story. I’m not entirely sure I even did the best I could do in this situation, but I wanted to tell my story because I want anyone who has dealt with this to know that it’s not okay. Whatever course of action feels right for you, take it. And know this: If your trainer tries it, you don’t have to let it slide. Of all the quietly destructive things we do on a daily basis, getting your health together is such a positive step. You deserve to feel safe as you work toward inner and outer transformation.
Often times, I see and hear grievances online and in everyday life that Black men need to be more supportive and loving of the Black woman, and usually, I agree. But I can’t help but wonder why it seems to be such a difficult task for some? Why is it so hard for us to just support one another? Could it be because we simply don’t know how? Let’s be honest, there aren’t as many positive representations of Black love and support on a romantic and platonic level as we’d like, so it’s no wonder people get hyped up off of drama. So I decided to make it easier for the fellas who are making a conscious effort. And for those who aren’t…DO BETTER!
Appreciate Our Natural Beauty
It’s cool if she rocks long weaves or crochet braids with a “beat” face, tight dress and stilettos, but it’s also cool if she doesn’t. It’s cool if she doesn’t take hours to contour and highlight her face and prefers a simple lipstick. It’s cool if she doesn’t touch her eyebrows. It’s cool if she’s the wash and go queen and only needs an afro-pick to start her day. Fellas, it’s cool. It’s cool for you to have a preference, but it’s not cool for you to bomb on and bash other women because they aren’t your cup of tea. Appreciate the things that make us who we are, physically, but most of all, internally. That means cut the crap on the dark skin slander, quit it with the nappy jokes, and let the ladies live without making we feel like anything less than the amazing women we are because we don’t look or act a certain way.
Less Talking, More Listening
Seriously, we’re not asking you to be Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent and fix our issues all of the time. We just want you to listen. Don’t be so quick to label a Black woman as angry and bitter because she’s upset about something you did or something that happened during her day. Don’t rush to the defensive side so quick. If you love us and sincerely want to support us, you’ll hear us out. She isn’t angry or bitter, she’s just tired, and it might not necessarily be with you. It could be work frustrations, the perils of motherhood, her interactions with others, you never really know until you listen. And she could use a fresh pair of ears. Otis said it best in “Try A Little Tenderness.”
As Black women, we show up and show out for everything. We show up for everyone. But when we need our men to show up for us, often, all we hear are crickets unless it’s the son, father, or husband of the woman who dragged them to an event. Recognize us. Acknowledge us and quit leaving us hanging. So what if we’re hosting a panel discussion for women or a writing workshop for kids? Show up and make yourself useful. We show up for our communities, our churches, our families, our professions, our education, our brothers, and each other. We need our men to do the same.
Stop With The Respectability Politics
The one thing I hate when it comes to respecting the Black woman, is that there always has to be an exception. There should be no exception to giving someone respect. There’s the idea that if she doesn’t respect herself, then no one else will. NO. You show her respect still and help her see the value in her worth if she doesn’t. That doesn’t give you the green light to join in on the hate train. If you see something, say something. If you see a woman being bashed on social media or in public, don’t share it for sh-ts and giggles or be a silent spectator, say something! Be accountable for your brotha that’s bashing and degrading your sistah. Stop it with the respectability politics. You can’t say you love Black women, but then pick and choose which Black women you’re going to respect.
Remember: Our Lives, Our Choices
Seriously, can we live? Live without society policing our every choice? Can we at least get that freedom to choose from our men without judgment? Let us be great. Let us be great and single. Let us be great and taken. Let us be great and natural. Let us be great weaved out. Let us be great twerking on a Friday night at the Hookah lounge. Let us be great in Sunday morning worship. Let us be great in a tight bodycon dress. Let us be great in a hijab. Just let us be great and respect that our choices are our choices, and unless it’s causing you harm and danger then you shouldn’t be speaking except to edify.
Check Your Ego
She don’t want you, bruh. And you know what? That’s okay! Life goes on and it will literally be about five minutes before you’re catcalling the next woman who walks by, so you don’t need to call her out of her name because she didn’t respond to you the way you wanted. Check your ego and squash it. Also, before you open up your mouth to speak to her, it wouldn’t hurt to ask yourself what you can do for her. Why should she stop for me? Am I being respectable in my approach? What are my intentions and what can I add to her life?
Know Your Role And Play It Well
We all know we can be stubborn at times. Sometimes our pride gets the best of us when we say “We don’t want you,” but the truth is, we need each other as a race and as a community. The most you can do to support us as Black women is play your role. Whether you’re a father, son, uncle, nephew, grandson, husband, or brother, be that and be that to the utmost extreme. A daughter needs her father; a wife needs her husband; a mother needs her son, and a sister needs her brother.
Now, before anyone starts with the “Same goes for women,” or “…and vice versa,” let me just say I’m not addressing women right now, I am addressing men. I’m talking to you, brothas. I applaud and send kudos to the Black men holding it down for Black women. The Black men who know that the only way Black people will progress is if we start loving each other unconditionally. The Black men who know that Black women are the future, but we can’t be that without you. For those of you who don’t, do better. It’s that simple.
This morning, as we were filming “Did Y’all See,” our producer Raven, told us about “Catfish” creator Nev Schulman and the comments he made earlier this week about Black women. She paraphrased his words. But here’s the actual tweet, which has since been deleted.
When she first told us, I thought of the numerous times I’ve watched this show. I mean, yeah there were a lot of Black women on it. And in that moment, I failed to see how dismissive, offensive and inappropriate that tweet was. And I told our producer that I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
But then, I got on my computer and looked at it for myself.
I don’t know what it was, but something about seeing the words, in written form, with the “just sayin’” afterward, that made me see the real issue here. He tweeted this on the very night “Black Girls Rock” aired, the single day where our Blackness and our brilliance was celebrated on a national platform. I’m a huge fan of “Catfish” and even really enjoy Nev himself. Still, I can’t understand how the tweet was meant to do anything but discredit Black women, offering a caveat to the undeniable brilliance we witnessed as the show aired.
Thankfully, Black Twitter didn’t take as long as I did to see the problem here. As you might imagine, Black women, still on a high from being so richly embraced that night, were NOT having it. There were annoyed gifs, attacks at his character, threats to boycott the show as well as someone pulling up receipts about Nev punching a woman when he was in college.
Then, the discussion became more productive and educational as one young, Black woman, who actually Catfished someone for years when she was in middle school, offered this explanation.
After the exchange, Nev DMed Cici. He deleted the original tweet, thanked Melaninporn and apologized.
— Nev Schulman (@NevSchulman) April 6, 2016
You're right to be upset & don't have to accept my apology, but I am deeply sorry to those whom I offended and learned a valuable lesson.
— Nev Schulman (@NevSchulman) April 6, 2016
Well, that’s about as happy an ending as we could have anticipated…in the short term. Hopefully, Nev will find a way to integrate this discussion on the actual show, the next time the opportunity presents itself.
I remember at five-years-old, wanting a boyfriend. But before then, I had my baby dolls. I dragged them around the house as soon as I started toddling around. I bathed with them, slept with them and eventually lost one of them. My mother threw my first and favorite doll in the garbage after I put a toddler’s handful of vaseline into her synthetic hair, trying to style it.
In one way or another, perhaps subtly, nurturing has been a part of me, from before I can even remember. So, it should come as no surprise that when I think about my life, one of the milestones I’d really like to experience would be bringing life into this world.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I want to be married too. In fact, I really only want to have a child in the context of a marriage. Mostly because I know firsthand how a child benefits from seeing both sexes living and interacting under the same roof and secondly because raising a child is hard work and I’ll need help. Shout out to the single ladies raising babies.
And in most cases, I don’t think a woman has to choose. I think we can have both. But not according to this meme.
In this one, it’s one or the other. And while we can all acknowledge that life doesn’t always work like that, let’s play this little game shall we?
The meme says if you had to choose just one, would you choose to have children and never be married or be married and never have children?
Y’all know my answer.
I want the babies.
Let me explain. I feel like you don’t have to be in a traditional marriage to have a partner be around as a support system for both you and the child. People have built whole lives together, raised children and spoiled grandchildren without having signed a single marriage certificate. And they’re in love and happy.
There were some women who argued that if you do your job properly, children will grow up and leave the house and then you’ll be all alone. It’s possible. But there’s also the possibility that the marriage won’t work out either. And that’s the thing; a child is for life, whereas your spouse always has the option to walk away. You’ll love that child forever, unconditionally.
But that’s just me. What’s your choice ladies? And, please be nice and don’t shame anyone for their decision please. Different strokes, for different folks…and it’s just a meme.
The students at Howard University are making their voices heard after the school failed to address two separate sexual assaults that occurred on campus.
According to WUSA 9, more than 100 Howard students gathered earlier this week to protest the university’s handling of the two rape allegations. Both at the hands of the same student, a former Residence Hall Advisor (RA).
According to D.C. police reports, the first of the two incidents happened in May 2015. The second in February of this year. Both incidents were alleged to have happened on campus property.
Tori Elder, one of the students who helped organize the protest said, “It’s an outrage to know that we live in a building with a rapist. I felt like my safety is gone. I don’t feel safe at all.”
The most recent alleged rape, according to police documents, happened on February 8 in a residence hall.
The university’s handling of the cases all came to light this week, when one of the alleged victims tweeted her disgust that her alleged rapist was still on campus.
howard protects rapists and lets them roam freely within the student body but you didn't hear it from me cause their image on the line
— J Millz (@_Liahhhh) March 22, 2016
When other Twitter users questioned her about the assault, she said, “my coworker raped me and got me fired.”
Another user said, “If you want to protest/stand up against CHS/Howard I’m with you. You aren’t the only girl who this has happened to this year.”
WUSA confirmed that another incident was reported in October, detailing a rape in a parking garage at Howard University Hospital, across the street from the same residence hall where the second rape was reported.
Recent tweets have been posted regarding the alleged sexual assault of a Howard University student by another Howard student. The University administration took immediate action as soon as we learned of this matter. While we are not able to discuss the specifics of any ongoing investigation, we are and have been actively investigating all reports that have been made to us. These cases cannot be adjudicated through social media without compromising the integrity of the investigation.
Howard University takes matters of sexual assault very seriously. As part of our commitment to a safe campus environment, we continue to refine and enhance our Title IX protocols and procedures consistent with best practices and federal regulations. This is further supported with ongoing prevention education, collaboration, training and campus engagement.
During the protests, students shut down part of 4th Street NW and could be heard chanting “No means no!”
This RA hasn’t just been accused of rape on Howard’s campus. A woman from UCLA forwarded a letter, allegedly from officials, which stated that the man had been banned from campus after he was accused of distributing revenge porn of a female student.
The protestors released a list of demand.
— The Pearl Goddess (@Savage_Glam) March 22, 2016
You can take a look at coverage of the protest in the video below.
The Black Lives Matter movement has taken center stage in the public discourse. But more often than not, that conversation doesn’t include Black women. And with Black girls being disproportionately disciplined and suspended, rapes going un-prosecuted, the murders of Black trans women, and the mistreatment we experience at the hands of Black men, we need someone to fight for us.
So, we were very happy to learn that, according to the Huffington Post, three Black women made history on Tuesday when they announced the launch of the first and only Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls.
Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) and Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.) sent a press release confirming the news. The press release said the group was founded to create public policy that “eliminates significant barriers and disparities experienced by black women.”
This group is the only one, of 430 registered caucuses, that will make Black women and girls a priority.
The caucus was inspired by Ifeoma Ike, the cofounder of Black and Brown People Vote and a group of six other women involved in the #SheWoke committee, a group of Black women activists who fight for the rights of Black women.
The idea was spurred from a conversation in her apartment earlier this year which included subjects like the developments in the Sandra Bland case. Two days later, #SheWoke was formed and there was a petition that called on congress to put Black women’s issues at the forefront.
The caucus hopes to tackle economic equity, education, wellness, safety and more.
Ike said, “We want to get everyone, including our sisters, aware of where we statistically fall within these issues. Knowledge is definitely power,” Ike told the Huffington Post. “We’re looking at this space as one of idea-sharing and policy creation. We’re making sure we’re included as a demographic that deserves to be addressed.”
Ike also spoke about the support Black women have lent to Black men, only to find that they somehow got lost in the shuffle. She referenced her participation in President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative specifically.
“I felt like I was supporting my brother but I didn’t feel like my story or any of my sister’s stories were included. Through this work, and meeting other dynamic women, it’s very important, especially in this political climate, that politicians look at our issues. By addressing Black women, you address everyone.”
The launch reception of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls will be held on April 28 in Washington, D.C.
I tell this story all the time because it’s simultaneously hilarious and incredibly relevant. When I went off to college, I decided to go natural. Thankfully, my mother, who had already made the transition, was very supportive. But two years later, as my graduation date neared and my mother started thinking about the prospect of me getting a job, she suggested that I invest in a good wig to strengthen my chances of being offered a position. She was sure that my afro would be a hinderance to my employment opportunities.
I told my mother that I wasn’t going to buy a wig because I would never want to work for a company that couldn’t appreciate the real me.
That moment said quite a bit about identity politics for Black women, the generational gap between my mother and I and the perception of Black hair as somehow untidy and thereby unprofessional.
But it’s a new day. And Black women, across the world, are seeking to combat that very erroneous and hurtful notion that our hair is not good enough.
Happy Hair Boutique, located in the Bahamas, is joining that conversation with their campaign and hashtag #NaturalIsProfessional.
According to the campaign website, owner of the boutique Carol-Lynn Taylor explained the purpose of the campaign saying, “The goal is to illustrate to our public that natural hair is accepted in the workplace and more notably in the professional environment.” Taylor and her company have been running the campaign for the past three years, every February during the boutique’s “Love Your Natural Hair Month.”
The website says:
“In February 2016, a number of high school students received backlash about their natural hair being “untidy, un-groomed, unkempt and looking like it hadn’t been combed for days.” Also February marks Happy Hair’s 3rd Annual ‘Love Your Natural Hair’ Month. It only felt natural to join the two. 15 Natural Hair Professionals and four up and coming Natural Hair Young Professionals, including a medical engineer, a dentist, a CPA, a future doctor, a business owner and more, came out to show their support for these students and to prepare them “for today’s job market.” The result is countless stereotype-breaking, positive black hair images flooding social media timelines to make people rethink what professional hair can be.”
Such a beautiful and much-needed idea.
Check out some of the images from the campaign below.
With more than a million mobile apps on the market, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when searching for ones that will make your life easier. Luckily, Black Silicon Valley has your back. Here are 7 essential mobile apps that you should download that were designed by African American techies with your needs in mind.
Say, so long to the days of having to guess how that lipstick, blush or eyeshadow would look on your melanin rich skin.
Cocoa Swatches, a beauty mobile app, provides instant access to swatches of makeup on various skin-tones, including dark complexions that tend to be underrepresented in the industry. The beauty platform also provides curated makeup-related content such video tutorials, expert tips, and product comparisons.
Who among us hasn’t spent a full Sunday getting our hair tight only to have it ruined by a burst of humidity on Monday?
Cast Beauty, the first weather-inspired beauty forecasting app is out to change all that. The app helps women remain picture perfect in any climate by providing beauty product recommendations based on the weather and users’ hair and skin profiles.
Red carpet event? Wedding day? Need Your hair done, but don’t have the patience to do it yourself? No worries. Your own personal glam team is now just a click away.
TresseNoire, the on demand personal salon appointment app, lets you reserve time with well-vetted, credentialed natural haircare stylists who will come to your home or office to get your hair looking right.
You’re way too smart to pay good money for a bad cocktail.
Alcohomy, the cocktail recipe and bar locator app, is on a mission to make sure you never settle for a disappointing adult beverage again. The app lets you see reviews for bars in your area and their top cocktails before you head out. You can also take pictures of your favorite drinks to share online and access more than 16,000 recipes so you can impress your friends with your bartending skills.
Swiping left might be fun, but it might not be the best way to find someone who gets you on a deeper level.
Enter Bae (Before Anyone Else), the online dating app that helps members connect through curated experiences and activities. After you match with someone the app encourages you to “actually chat, meet and date.” That might seem like an old-school concept these days, but sometimes the old ways bring results.
Take the lead and plan the adventure filled vacation of your dreams for you and your girlfriends.
Tastemakers Africa recommends vetted and pre-tested, tours, events and experiences for you and your crew to try while on your trip. The travel app curates the best dining experiences, escapes to private beaches, hidden waterfalls, exclusive parties, local designer meet-and greets and shopping excursions across the continent to make you feel like an in-the-know local wherever you go.
Sometimes you want to keep a private conversation, well, private. And, now there’s a app for that.
Clean Slate Messenger, is like the “Snapchat of text messaging.” The app allows you to share photos and text messages in real time with fellow app users and delete them after they are sent. The app doesn’t keep a history of your messages after you’ve deleted them, so that wild and crazy Vegas story can stay between you and your friends.
I’ve been watching and re-watching “Sex and The City” with my sister and in addition to the very real, world relationship trials, tribulations and triumphs we can all relate to, I’m struck by the differences in the ways Black and White women regard and approach sex and sexuality. I won’t venture to guess that White women are having more sex than us. Who really knows? But I do believe they view it differently. And I’m not basing this theory off of a fictional television show, I also watched the very real, “Jersey Shore,” where both the male and female cast mates regularly took strangers back to the house to bone. And if that’s not enough empirical evidence, my sister, who lived with White roommates throughout her college years, corroborated the fact that the media depictions of a more frequent and carefree attitude regarding sex wasn’t too far from reality.
So why is this the case? What are White women being taught about sex that Black women aren’t? One White woman suggested that White women who are often presented as sexual objects in the media, are eager to perform those same roles for men; while Black women, who have higher rates and a history of sexual violence, and are often hypersexualized and demonized in society, view the act differently.
A Black woman, who happens to hang around a lot of White people offered that White women equate sex with feminism and being liberated and fun, like Amy Schumer.
I can’t say I disagree with either one of those theories.
The thought of the differences in our approach to sex and sexuality came back to my head again, after reading an article on Jezebel about body count. In it, this woman, a mother, who has long since lost track of her number of sexual partners (She said more than 30 but less than 70.), talks about body count, healthy sexual behavior and much more with her almost-19-year-old daughter, who is also sexually active. To be fair, I don’t know if this mother and daughter duo are White or not. But the attitude is still different.
Their very open and honest conversation made me think about the conversations Black women have with their daughters about sex and sexuality. In my house, we were raised in the church and were taught that sex before marriage is a sin. But I’m also very thankful that my mother always answered any question I had about sex honestly. But she also made sure to share her opinions. My mother explained to me that sex, in the right context, felt great and could be a very beautiful thing. She told me it was a very spiritual act and that you didn’t unite spirits with just anyone. She was sure to tell me that when you have sex with a man that there’s nothing more you can give him. That’s the ultimate. At the time, I thought that piece of advice made sense but today I think about things differently. I don’t believe that sex is the ultimate gift you can give a man. But, as my coworker, whose mother gave her similar advice pointed out, when they were telling us these things, as a middle schoolers and then a high schoolers, who didn’t quite understand all that we had to offer the world or a man, that may have very well been true. My coworker’s mother said that her mother said that waiting until marriage to have sex could provide more security in the relationship. My mother mentioned the fact that sex often fosters a different level of attachment that would a.) make it harder to leave a bad situation or b.) make the heartbreak of the ending of the relationship that much worse because of these heightened feelings. I don’t know if that’s the case for every woman, but as sensitive as I am, I was thankful for that piece of advice.
But in addition to the deep, philosophical stuff, my mother was also very practical. As long as I didn’t have children, my life was my own and I could do what I wanted. But if I had a child, I would have to devote my time and energy into making sure that he or she was good. My life would be put on the back burner for the sake of my child. And having watched peers and family members live that very life, I could see that she wasn’t lying. But at the end of it all, my mother told me that if things got hot and I just couldn’t hold it anymore, if I thought I was ready to have sex, I should come to her so she could get me some protection.
My other coworker talked about the ways in which her mother talked of cleanliness. Another one spoke about how sex was regarded as so evil, dirty and nasty that she couldn’t say the word “sex” in her house as a child because her parents didn’t want to have to answer any questions. The impact of religion on Black women and our sexuality can’t be overstated. Perhaps the reason we don’t get down, or don’t appear to get down as much or as freely as White women do, is because we carry around so much guilt about having or even wanting to have sex. So even if we are having it, we’re certainly not broadcasting the fact to any and everybody. Just the inner circle of girlfriends. Because there is likely another Black girl or woman who would be too quick to judge us. And it’s not just women either.
Far too many times, I’ve witnessed men refer to the very women they’ve had sex with as loose (literally and figuratively), hoes, skanky, dirty and a host of other unflattering names. It’s not just outside forces who have tried to paint Black women as hypersexual, men in our own communities do it all the time.
So, Black women are carrying quite a bit more baggage than White women when it comes to our views on sexuality, which no doubt accounts for some of the real or perceived differences in behavior. But these are just a few experiences and theories. Do you believe Black and White women approach sex differently? If so, why do you think that’s the case. And more importantly, what did your parents, particularly your mother or the women in your life, tell you about sex?