2007-11-03

Black Women, Sexuality, and Views of Sex In The Black Community




I just saw this trailer for Silence: In Search of Black Female Sexuality in America on youtube and made me think about black women, how we are portrayed in the media. The stereotypes, and what we have been told growing up about sex and sexuality. Of my black female friends, when sex is discussed, it is basically very limiting. To hear these women tell it, the only sexual position they do is missionary, no oral sex, no foreplay, it is often seen as a chore to keep a man happy. Oral sex is seen as unclean, gross, and something white women do to "take our men from us". The idea of IR sex is even more disturbing to them. Even though I am married to a white man, many times I hear my friend say, they could never sleep with a white man, the concept of sex with them is something as odd or alien. I have heard the disgust of looking at a "pink penis". Usually I say nothing, knowing that they have no idea or concept of what a white man looks like unclothed. I think many times it has to do with the fact that these women are very religious, and like me grew up with the mentality of keep your legs closed tight, and don't let boys touch you.

Growing up my mother actually talked about sex, but again very limiting. I would ask a question, and she would answer, using the most clinical terms possible to ensure it went over my head and I wouldn't think of it as anything to do with pleasure. I remember when I got my period, I told my mother, and the talk went as follows, "don't have sex and get pregnant, or I will kill you." Thank you mother for that female bonding moment. That is truly what she said, nothing like the Huxtables on TV, getting excited that their daughters had become women, Claire took them out for a day at the spa and lunch. My mother gave me pads, and told me not to use tampons, as they were dirty and unsanitary because you had to stick them "up there". I also got the fear of getting pregnant put into me by my mother. Per her everything caused pregnancy, from getting groped, to kissing a boy. I was out of high school before I even entertained the idea of sex, and when I did entertain it, I was so sexually repressed, I viewed sex as something to get rid of my virginity, which was an albatross around my neck in my mind. My first time wasn't romantic, loving, or even with someone I was dating. It was very random, and very mechanical, just an act to get to the goal of not being a "virgin" anymore.

To add to my confusion about sex, from ages 5 to 10, I was sexually molested by multiple family members (two cousins and an uncle). This is also something not discussed in the black community. I have just realized in the last five years it was sexual molestation. I always took it as "kids experimenting" even though I was five the first time my then high school aged uncle kissed me a bit too intimately and groped me inappropriately. Or when my cousins who are only a few years older would grope me and take off my clothes while sleeping, and in turn ask for the same. I never even realized what it was. I knew sex as something dirty, and I didn't dare tell. Even if I had told, I would fear myself, not my uncle and cousins as getting into trouble. Then I felt that my family would be shamed if I ever told. So I never did. In the black community we see child exploitation and molestation as a "white people's problem". Pedophiles are typically white males, and when there is a case of a black girl or teen coming forward with tales of rape or molestation, even if her family stands behind her, the black community will always question her intentions, her involvement, and lay some of the blame on the victim, especially if her assailant is a black male with money. The R. Kelly debacle is a perfect example of this. He tried to marry a 15 year old (Aaliyah), videotaped himself having sex with a high school girl, they have found pictures on his computer, and he has been infamously known for cruising high schools for girls. To this day, his victim has been seen as a fast girl who know what she was doing, who was trying to bring him down, and people are still quick to buy his albums and go to his concerts. So the lesson black girls learn is that it doesn't pay to tell, stay quiet and it will go away.

In terms of relationships or dating, there has always been the stigma of black women being so loose and easy, that they are willing to do whatever, whenever. I have been approached very boldly by men of all races to "perform" for them. I never have, but it shocks me how open these men are. I remember on my last cruise, me and my friend did an excursion on a boat where shots of tequila were flowing freely. I being the outspoken, intoxicated person I was, was the first in the mambo line, actively participating with the host when he asked questions or asked for volunteers. Mind you I was intoxicated, but not beyond feeling tipsy, the tequila was basically very watered down. In no time a middle aged white man came up to me asking if I was willing to show my chest to him. I quickly went to the other side of the boat, freaked out he was ask such as thing, as there was no nudity on this boat. It was an excursion on a cruise ship, adults only, but not XXX. It was about drinking and riding to the beach, not sex. I have been in clubs or other places where men have asked me to just dance for them, I was not in a strip club, but for some reason I apparently am such a great dancer, they just want to watch me perform. It is like I was just there for their amusement. Nothing but an object or museum oddity to gawk at. The objectification of women is not helped by music videos, mainly hip hop videos in which women are happily suggestively dancing on poles, on cars, and in the club, with barely a strip of cloth to cover up their "assets". This has gone on for decades if not centuries, black women seen as oddities and for the sole purpose of sex. The Jezebel stereotype, Hottentot Venus, Superhead.

Then we have the other extreme with the mammy stereotype. Overweight, mother like, and asexual. She is there for the purpose of taking care of everyone else. She covers herself so not to expose anything that might excite anyone. Her job is to have empathy and emotions for others, but not herself, almost like she is a saint, but not quite, as she is black and still considered subhuman. She must be strong, and she cannot show emotion. White women fall for this stereotype the most I think. I can't count how many white women are shocked by my marriage. It is as if to them how was I able to get a white man, much less get married to a white man. White women are the ideal, not black women. What shocks them even more is how often white men, especially now are more open to dating black women, as if they are scratching their heads and wondering. It doesn't help that as more and more relationships between white women and black men are on the rise, there is an outcry from black women, and there are negative stereotypes of black women being told to some white women by their black partners. Black woman are full of drama, argumentative, not attractive, overweight, have too many kids, and whatever else they have been told by their partners.

Overall, I think black women straddle the line of the extremes. I know many women who on Saturday night will be at the club dancing suggestively, but on Sunday morning in the church. They will be active in the church, and active in the bedroom, evidenced by the multiple children they have with multiple partners. Or they will be praying one minute, but due to the black male shortage laying with a married man in the next. Or we have the black woman still praying and hoping their black prince will come, while they are home every weekend wondering when if ever, they will get married and start their families.