Sex-Positive Feminism + Black Male Feminism = ?


Let’s have a toast for the douchebags
Let’s have a toast for the assholes
Let’s have a toast for the scumbags
Every one of them that I know
Let’s have a toast for the jerk-offs
That’ll never take work off
Baby, I got a plan
Runaway fast as you can

~Kanye West, “Runaway,” My Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)

It is difficult to be a sex-positive (black or brown) feminist.  The rules of black respectability encourage women of color to perform Chaste, Proper and Asexual in their public demeanor and discourse.  Instead, you find yourself wearing stilettos where clogs may have been more appropriate.  Or discussing condoms, orgasms and vibrators at dinner parties where the  guests may have preferred to chat about the last Colson Whitehead novel.  You get into fights about teen pregnancy because you refuse to demonize black girl sexuality; you complain about single motherhood having precious little state support; you are pro-abortion, pro-sex work, and pro-consent because you believe “Yes Means Yes” may be the most powerful phrase in the English language.

Discussing body parts is as easy to you as discussing the time of day.  The mechanics of sex acts are more compelling to you than the latest Chris Brown debacle.  You say “clitoris” as easily as you say “classroom” and often in the same breath.

And you don’t mind discussing these things, even when the conversations are draining, even when you think you are about to lose your best friend (or your job), because nine times out of ten you receive a phone call or email or text message afterwards thanking you for the fresh perspective and laying out a private story of sex gone right (or gone wrong).  They’ve been dying to  share, you see, and they finally found someone who has forgotten how to judge.

Somewhere along the way you discover you’ve become part of an underground network of black women who survived the gauntlet of emotions–recrimination, shame, depression, embarrassment, insecurity, shyness–that accompany heterosexual black-brown sexual activity and emerged on the other side in part by making a concerted decision to invest in their bodies, pleasures and bedrooms.  This is good, because you know the definition of a “Good Girl” was created with neither your input nor consent and being one has never protected a woman from having her heart broken, or being cheated on, beaten or raped.

Just this, just thinking through the Kool-aid swimming in your brain is hard enough.  But the practice of sex-positivity is so much more grueling!  Because you can say all of the above and still watch your male lover pick from a hat called Tropes of Black Female Sexuality to explain what you are doing in bed together–Madonna v. Whore, Sapphire v. Mammy, Vashti Murphy McKenzie v. Nicki Minaj.  Obviously he heard you, I mean, he’s there in your bed isn’t he?  But because he translates “Yes Means Yes” into “Yes Means Sex Without a Rape Charge”  he never confronts his own assumptions about you vis a vis the sex act itself.

Instead of “Yes Means Yes, I am capable of being a sexual being and expressing what I want to you without being a slut or being damaged or having Daddy issues,” he wants to know if when you saw the for colored girls movie, whether or not you recognized yourself in Thandie Newton’s character.  And he feels so progressive, so radical, so feminist for asking you so.  He is your Champion, a regular Joseph Conrad exploring the black feminist Dark Continent, the untrammeled territory of our sexuality, discovering (for us, of course) in order to explain (to us) why we would ever open our legs for a man who is not our husband.

He is usually asking this question after he’s gotten what he’s wanted.

Let’s have a toast for the douchebags….

Negro, please.

Sir, your feminism does not begin with avoiding a rape charge.  It begins with asking your penis whether or not he (she?) is really able to handle the moment when I reach for your belt buckle without putting me in a box before or placing yourself on a pedestal afterwards.  It means being very serious about listening to everything I say–instead of only hearing the parts that get you what you want.


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