“Can you be a good feminist if you have intimate engagements with partners who have diametrically opposed gender politics?
“How do we change this thinking in our communities that a woman’s behavior is responsible for pushing a man over the edge? That she can ever do something to deserve to be beaten to a pulp? That a man has a right to a violent response simply because he doesn’t like the way he’s being talked to or treated? That violence is a legitimate response to being mistreated? That any policy other than non-violence (on all sides) is good for relationships? That men are out-of-control beings around whom we must tread on eggshells?
And if I ask my students to question their assumptions and to demand better treatment in their relationships, then what kinds of things must I demand in mine? And does that standard apply to all relationships, romantic and platonic?
Can you be a good feminist if you have intimate engagements with partners who have diametrically opposed gender politics?”
She was concerned about what she believed might be the questionable politics of a lover/homie/friend who supported Chris Brown’s outrageous, unconscionable and violent behavior on the set of Good Morning America [I refuse to feed this man’s ego by linking to it here. You know where Google is]:
“In a post last year, I lamented the fact that I was meeting men who were rarely physically interested in me and who were always and only intrigued by my mind. Now I’ve met someone worthy of genuine interest, and my brain and my politics are getting in the way again. But while last time, I was concerned that my brain occupied too much space in my romantic encounters, this time around I’m afraid to check it at the door…
I mean should I withhold sex from dudes with sexist attitudes as an act of solidarity with my sisters?…
It wouldn’t be the first time that Black women withheld sex from Black men in service of larger racial interests. After the Civil War, Black men (but not Black women) could vote for a few brief years. Back then, most Black folks voted Republican as they were the more liberal party at the time and the party of Abraham Lincoln. But there were times when some Black men determined to vote Democrat so they wouldn’t be the target of white racial backlash. In addition to accompanying their men to the polls to monitor their votes, Black women banded together and encouraged each other to withhold sex from any man who voted against the community’s interests. These sisters knew how personal the political was long before white women said it. They knew that when it comes to Black women’s quality of life, there is nothing more political or personal than the person we’re sleeping with.”
Yup, that emphasis right there? That emphasis is mine.
“…there is nothing more political or personal than the person we’re sleeping with.”
Blackness exists in the world because of the worth once placed on the product of an African woman’s womb. Laws of partus sequitur ventrem, or status following the mother/womb, guaranteed that the children of enslaved women would also be slaves. These laws were about inheritance, legitimacy, labor and chattel. They laid the groundwork for what Adrienne D. Davis calls a “sexual political economy.”
In short, from the first centuries of slavery, we dealt in a currency of sexuality on a marketplace of interpersonal relations. There was nothing more political than access to our womb and sex, or restricting (or delegitimizing) our access to our own orgasms by turning even consensual affairs into matters of labor or law.
Jennifer Morgan describes it as the “symbolic work” or logic of the entire institution:
“William Towrson’s narrative of his I555 voyage to Guinea, also pub-lished by Hakluyt, further exhibits this kind of distillation. Towrsondepicted [African] women and men as largely indistinguishable. They “goe so alike,that one cannot know a man from a woman but by their breastes, which inthe most part be very foule and long, hanging downe low like the udder of agoate.”36 This was, perhaps, the first time an Englishman in Africa explicitly used breasts as an identifying trait of beastliness and difference. He goes onto maintain that “diverse of the women have such exceeding long breasts, that some of them wil lay the same upon the ground and lie downe by them.” Lok and Towrson represented African women’s bodies and sexual behavior so as to distinguish Africa from Europe. Towrson in particular gave readers only two analogies through which to view and understand African women-beasts and monsters….”
That women’s resistance to this infringement of their most personal spaces included a spectrum of well-documented consensual and non-consensual sexual liasions with men from all walks of life–yes. That this also included a range of less well-documented consensual and non-consensual sexual liasions with women from all walks of life–yes. I may be too hidebound to believe that every moment beneath the covers, or on floors, or in corners, or against walls was a moment of resistance bu tas Hortense Spillers notes, the history of the United States is a history of “bed-sharing” and, as Thavolia Glymph describes, the plantation household itself was also a “site of production.” In her recent book, relations between the plantation mistresses and the slaves they owned, especially women and children of mixed-race, emerge as a violent counterpoint to the even more threatening proximity of slave masters and their peers. These tangled intimacies grew even more varied as geography changed (smaller farms, urban areas with their run of free and freed people of color), or over time (gradual emancipation laws of the revolutionary generation went into full effect across the North in the 1830s).
But they were never devoid of political meaning. And they were always personal.
This history roaring at the back of my brain, I was furious when I responded to crunktastic’s post. Furious at a brand of black masculinity that does not appear to take this history seriously and at a black community that continues to imagine that what occurs between our thighs is a matter of morality and purity. And shame.
And I was overwhelmed with the need in myself for a discourse on black female sexuality that gives it body, shape, curve, slick texture, and sparkling sensation. A group of friends and I, frustrated with our then lovers, and enthralled with ourselves, once played a simple game called, “I want a boy who_____.” I don’t remember exactly what I wanted then, but I know what I want now (minor change to reflect age and experience below):
I want a partner who knows that “black feminist sex is the best sex around.”
I want a partner who believes it is NEVER acceptable to move in anger and violence toward the people in his life.
I want a partner who needs my orgasm more than he needs his.
I want a partner who not only rebukes statements like the ones in crunktastic’s post but who isn’t afraid to talk back to his boys when they try to go there too.
Think I’m dreaming? I come from a world where radical dreams are possible. And guess who else lives there? Moya Z. B., Lex, M.DotWrites, Asha French, The Diva Feminist b.k.a. Treva B. Lindsey, Alicia Sanchez Gill, and Asha French. On April 1, 2011, a movement began.
BECAUSE BLACK FEMINIST SEX IS THE BEST SEX EVER…THIS SITE WAS CREATED BY THOSE OF US HAVING AND COMMITTED TO HAVING TRANSFORMATIVE EROTIC EXPERIENCES WITH/AS BLACK FEMINISTS. (AND BOTH! OH BOTH!!!!!!)
THIS IS ALSO A WAKE UP CALL TO ANYONE WHO INSISTS ON INTIMACY WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY, CONDONES VIOLENCE AGAINST BLACK WOMEN, OR REFUSES TO BE TRANSFORMED BY THE ECSTATIC MIRACLE THAT BLACK WOMEN EXIST. YOU ARE SERIOUSLY MISSING OUT.
If you hang out at Nunez Daughter, you know me. You know that I am always looking for someone to rub my booty. And you know that my climax lives in the digi-body known as Pretty Magolia and that she keeps treats for me whenever I am too strung out to know myself.
Well this right here? This sh*t right here? This sh*t right here is what will keep me alive, trembling, hot and vulnerable even as the microaggressions of the academic industrial complex threaten to eat me alive.
In the course of four hours, in response to the post, out of our own lustful need to be surrounded by others who will not be constrained by the politics of slut-shaming, respectability or the most recent iteration of books about black women who will never get married and don’t know how to treat a man. Emails flew. A Tumblr was born. A Twitter followed and a Facebook page after that. Podcasts are scheduled for within the month. A blog carnival call will come out tomorrow. Symposia and conference panels are being planned. Interviews are being scheduled.
Today is the seventh day. We aren’t even tired yet. #TheySleepWeGrind
Join us. Follow us or visit the Tumblr. Leave love–comment, message in the ask box, reblog. If you don’t have a Tumblr, now is a great time to make one–easiest thing ever. All you need is an email address. Follow us on Twitter. Like our Facebook page. Follow the members, follow each other. Let’s build a community that isn’t afraid of #blackfeministsex. Let’s build a community that believes in it.
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