I remember growing up, hearing the word sex made me cringe. I felt super weird and embarrassed discussing anything involving it. But why? Aside from its enticing and pleasurable essence, sex was how humanity came to be in the first place. People had to have sex for us to get here, so in actuality sex was and is 100% natural. But why are so many women uncomfortable or even ashamed of talking about it? Mm, let’s see: patriarchy, misogyny, oppression, religion, ownership, etc. Sounds about right. From a young age many of us, especially growing up as young Black girls, were tricked into being afraid of sex and anything involving our sexuality. We were taught in a coercive and subtle manner that our bodies were not ours. They were somehow our parents or the church’s or a man’s or God’s, but never really ours.
Now as a young adult woman, I realize how long I was robbed of my autonomy. I never had proper “sex education”. I didn’t have it in school and I damn sure didn’t have it at home. Ironically, I was taught why I shouldn’t have sex, what awful things could happen to me, how it would change me (I’d be tainted), and how abstaining somehow made me better (better than other women and more appealing to men, ofc). At the time, I believed it because what do you know; young girls are impressionable. (Whew. We grow up thinking adults know everything, especially what is best. Wrong but we’ll get to that another day). I was also taught to stay away from masturbation and pornography, growing up Christian, it was considered to be a sin I guess? At least, that’s what they told me. However, all these scare tactics didn’t stop the curiosity that rose within me. Like any kid, I wanted to know more about the thing I “wasn’t supposed to do” just because “they said so”. I was always an individual who needed explanation, I needed to ask why, how – even if I had to find out on my own at my own expense. I was the cat who was killed many times, but for good reason lol.
I grew up in a kind of we-don’t-talk-about-it environment when it came to sex. So I didn’t know anything that didn’t come from a) the teen sex ed books I snuck to read in Barnes & Noble and b) pornography *shrugs*. I really believed masturbating was wrong and filthy. This unfortunately made each young orgasm I had turn from a few moments of bliss to longer moments of guilt and shame. I was ashamed that I watched porn, masturbated, and *gasps* was a teenage girl curious about having sex.
Girls and women can suffer greatly from NOT talking about sex. Unwanted and/or early pregnancy, unsatisfying sex, STD/STI transferal, and shame are just a few products of miseducation (or none at all). It isn’t fair and has to change. Sexuality must be talked about. Sex must be talked about. Consent must be talked about. Abuse must be talked about. Women deserve to know what their bodies do just the way they deserve to know what they want for their bodies. I’m not sure when not talking about something ever made said thing go away??
I don’t exactly remember when I started understanding my right to autonomy but I do know I learned a lot from Shannon Boodrum (Sexologist) back in my early YouTube days. She made talking about sex fun and interesting to me. It was comfortable, entertaining, and most importantly educational. Somewhere down the road I became comfortable exploring my sexuality unapologetically. For almost a decade I was brainwashed into thinking I wanted and would wait until I was married to have sex. Now, I’m not saying a woman’s choice to wait is wrong at all. But I am saying, it is crucial she decides for herself when she is able to truly conceptualize sex and not have the decision made for her as a little girl, which was my own story. Eventually I said nope, I’m not waiting. I didn’t want to do that anymore, even though I never really got to decide if I wanted to in the first place. I was newly open to having sex on MY terms. That was an empowering moment for me, being able to choose.
Growing in adulthood has gifted me the opportunity to learn so much about my sexuality. I’ve allowed myself the freedom to do so. I have been able to relinquish the guilt and shame I held around it. I’ve been able to embrace myself rather than run from my desires. This important time of self-actualization has also allowed me to embrace other women. Being comfortable in my own sexuality allowed me to respect the way other women expressed their own sexuality.
College was an amazing time for me to learn. I was blessed with young women in my life that made talking about my experiences comfortable. These women allowed me to be open because they set the tone by being open with me. What resonated with me the most was being able to have conversations around sexuality with women who looked like me. I never had that. It was powerful, sacred even. We shared stories, educational tips, lessons learned, our curiosities, and more. We even gave ourselves the space for discourse. We challenged each other’s views on sex, sexuality, partners and how these things related to us.
It was other Black women who brought me to this place, of liberation. I’m forever grateful for these moments in time where they were able to turn shame to pride. We need more conversation around Black women and their sexuality, around Black women and sex. I’m not talking about the anticipation of waiting for our homegirls to tell us if she smashed on the first date or not. I’m talking a little more in depth, like are we having sexual experiences where we orgasm? Is squirting really pee? What are our kinks? What even is a kink?? Are sexual and romantic experiences always separate? All of that and then some! We need intergenerational normalization of sex talks. I’m not saying we have to over share or reveal the best but possibly embarrassing things we’ve done while having sex, but we do need to talk about it. Normalizing the conversation can birth many positive outcomes. For one, it allows us to be more confident in expressing our sexuality. Additionally: we become more comfortable being vocal in the bedroom because we know what we like, things we’d like to try, and things we don’t like. It allows us to reclaim our power because women deserve the right to exploration and fulfillment, however that looks respectively.
Look I’m not trying to tell anyone how to raise their kids or to denounce their religion. Different strokes for different folks (no pun intended). I’m just saying, it’s time we destigmatize the conversation. I’ve had enough of the quiet game. It’s time Black women and girls talk about sex and sexuality. Period.