by Latoya Peterson
Back in August, I had an idea I couldn’t get out of my head.
I’ve been reading articles about sex a long, long time. And yet, far too many discussions of sex, love, and whatever else tend to be dominated by one perspective – young, white women. There are the occasional exceptions, but without fail, when I read something like this…
[I]n an economy where nearly all creative types are struggling, highly confessional essays about sex by young people — in particular women — are one of the few reliable markets for a newcomer like me.
…I can generally guess the race and background of the author. If that’s the easy way to get discovered, it would appear that few women of color ever have sex. Or write about their love lives.
Or maybe there isn’t a market unless you are young, white, and reasonably attractive.
I kept thinking about the idea more and more, and realized there are a lot of people you never hear from, our dating and love lives relegated to the margins of experience, only known to us and a small circle of friends.
So, I sent out an email to the Racialicious crew and some long time contributors, checking their interest in a potential series.
Their responses blew every idea I ever had out of the water.The original email I sent read:
So, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we talk about sex, love, and virginity. And there’s something missing from mainstream conversations. This really was driven home to me after reading Jezebel’s guide to popping your cherry, which left a lot out.
So, I was thinking of penning a piece that would be a rough guide of sorts to all the “other” first times. Y’all know I tend to write about sexual assault – having sex after that was a bit more complicated than “just relax and use some lube.” So I want to do a group piece that’s about a lot of different types of firsts – roughly, I’d love to get some perspectives on how race intersects with your sex lives, various GLBTQ experiences with approaching and navigating sex and the concept of virginity, how visible and invisible disabilities impact how we are perceived as sexual beings, sex after major life transitions, that sort of thing. If you received this email, it’s because I am interested in your personal story.
However, I know that talking about sex can be really strange and difficult, so I would like to get a feel of who would be interested in participating, and who else I can tap. (And we are casting a wide net, so if you haven’t had sex ever or for a while or what have you, I am still interested.)
Is anyone up for this?
Over the next two weeks, my friends responded. Some were instantly in. Some refused, citing their religion. Others got pissed, wondering why holding religious beliefs precluded talking about sex and love, basic human emotions. Some cited their queerness as a reason for not participating, noting that speaking about sex and relationships in this politicized environment could become emotionally violent. Others freely offered their experiences, saying they wished they had a how-to guide when they were growing up. Some asked about ways to approach the question, or ways in which they could explore the topic. I ended up sending a second email, saying:
Its everything. I left it vague for a reason. I want people from all walks to be able to engage with these ideas of sex, virginty, love – all these things. [...] End goal, I want more POC talking about sex/love/virginity because there aren’t really spaces about what we go through. And there really no spaces if you inhabit multiple identities. I don’t need you all to write erotica, or present a blow-by-blow of your first sexual experience (though you are more than welcome to do either). But I was reading through that guide on Jezebel and realizing how incomplete it all is. So I’d like to start filling in the gaps. If you don’t want to talk about your sex life I won’t force you. But my first could by “my first time kissing a white guy” or “my first time trying to pick up a girl” or “my first time getting my heart broken post sex” or whatever. I would like to see some guides – but I would also just like to hear us muse on navigating sex and romance while looking at how our lives make things more complicated. You don’t have to be sexually active to participate. You don’t need to be anything but yourself. You don’t need to share anything but what you want to share. And some folks have already asked me to look at how we can make this a bit less “out there” and provide some options for anonymity, make this a meme, all kinds of stuff. But I asked each of you, specifically, because I wanted your voice there. Some people have passed for safety/exposure reasons and that is cool. But I am less interested in what subject you pick, and more interested in how you tackle the subject, if that makes sense.
Ultimately, we went around and around, bringing ideas and swapping thoughts. I decided to make it a blog carnival since everyone brought such a unique perspective and I feel like the more words on this one, the better.
So here’s the first official call. Entries are due November 30th, 2010, and we will start running the pieces in November and December. Sexual Correspondent Andrea Plaid is co-editing, and we are hoping for a huge mix of participants.
What are we looking for?
Anything really. But for those of you who need a prompt, here are some things like I would like to see:
- General commentary on sex and dating
- First times
- Discussions of abstinence and virginity
- The construction of masculinity and how that impacts dating, love, and sex
- Racial stereotypes/perceptions and their impact on your sex life
- Being part of a “sexless” class and how that impacts dating, love, and sex
Guidelines are the same as general Racialicious ones.
Submissions can be in any format – would love to see poems, erotica, comics, illustrations, video, and audio, as well as straight text. Please include a transcript with video/audio. Anonymity can be arranged – the best way I can see it to upload your file to a drop.io, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and just use a fake email address. But we can figure that out as we go.
Questions, comments, please leave them down below.
And with that, we look forward to reading.