April 23, 2011 1 Comment
I’m a woman. I’m black. I’m kinky.
Now while I’ve mostly dealt with my feelings on being a kinky woman, there’s a pretty damn significant part of my identity I’m still working to reconcile to everything else.
This is not a society that’s been kind to women, and certainly not women of color. Our sexuality is not our own, instead this is a world socialized with the idea that people of color’s sexuality does no’t belong to us, that women of color’s sexuality, my sexuality is for public consumption- everyone else gets to have a say about it but me. So when I right pro-sex posts celebrating the power of consent, the right to feel pleasure, to be kinky, sometimes I can’t help but feel like I’m falling into that tired old stereotype of the hypersexual black woman.
But does the solution really lie in suppressing my desire? Should I “clean up my act” because heaven forfend there are white people in the room while I’m expressing my deviance?
Well, no (or at least I hope not) because that way only madness lies.
It certainly hasn’t done us any favors, being one of the reasons the mammy stereotype took such hold. Not to mention the fact that it split women of color up into opposing archetypes that were created to challenge each other. There’s constant self-policing in our communities (anyone remember the Ciara ‘Love Sex Magic’ kerfuffle, or how about the more recent Rihanna S&M rumbling– though admittedly, hers is even more complicated than just a matter of race and kink); it is that horrible “there are white people in the room” mentality that keeps us repressed and heteronormative, keeping us compliant and ‘respectable’. Or at least that is what our own communities tell us, because I hope I do not have to tell you it is certainly not working for us. Mammy, Jezebel, and Sapphire are alive and thriving- to our detriment; our sexuality still falls at the intersection of race and gender.
I have to admit that I still hesitate before condemning that self-enforced silence. It was not born in a vacuum. The erasure of deviance (queerness, kink, anything that isn’t widely considered ‘acceptable’ or ‘respectable’) in communities of color is an ugly scar; it is a reflection of a history of violence, slavery, and debasement. So I hesitate, I hesitate because I get it. I still live it. Though the question remains: can the solution really lie in suppressing my desire?
No- and more of us need to say this with conviction. Avoiding deviance to avoid oppression just reinforces the oppression. It has been said before, and again and again, as women we need to take back our right to pleasure, as women of color, more so. The discussion needs to start happening amongst ourselves- and not in the hushed whispers we are used to. Proudly and deviantly, let’s talk about sex, baby (and queerness, and kink, and all that’s been taboo)!