Category Archives: sex

Your Sex Acts–And Partners–Aren’t Uplifting the Race

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea Plaid

My gurl S., who followed the Justin Timberlake/Ciara post and thread very closely, just about fell out while we talked on the phone.

She was apoplectic over Timberlake pulling Ciara’s chain in the video, of that salient image of BDSM (and possible race play) as well as the article about race play I linked to in the comment thread. Too through, she told me she “had to get up from the computer when I read about race play.” “I mean, I knew about it, but I never read about it in detail. I just can’t believe it!!”

“I know,” I told S. “I know.” ‘Cause I’ve heard this reaction to race play before. Talking to another blogger, she flipped out pretty bad about it. I had to calm her down by saying, ‘I feel you. Personally, I think of race play and, yeah, I feel the body memories of slavery, too. And, yeah, I even felt a negative undercurrent in Hernandez’s piece, one of ‘This isn’t uplifting The Race!’ But, S., I’ll tell you what I told the blogger: the reality is–whether we like it or not–people are into it.”

“And, I added, “you can’t flip out about race play [with the Racial Uplift] argument because some folks can use the same argument about your liking anal beads: ‘The slavemasters–and white men–have stuck all kinds of objects into us to violate us. Why would you want to do something like that? That’s not uplifting the race!’”

S. got quiet. “Yeah, you’re right.”

Unfortunately, this argument gets whipped out among people of color when a PoC steps out of sexual line of “acceptable” sex practices and partners, especially in a public space, like Ciara did in her “Love Sex Magic” video. On the thread from the other day, she gets “read” as a slut corrupting the youth or a victim of the patriarchy or both. Some of the comments:

“Ciara is clearly desperate…her albums aren’t selling like the execs thought they would…in sense she is a slave…so the video is perfect fit.”

“The video is way sexualized to a point that’s unnecessary…My issue is with the fact that Ciara chose to go so far that she came off as tacky.”

“I don’t know that I’ve witnessed this much (grand plié in 2nd position) crotch, thigh waving and close-up butt rumbling by non-brown bodies in a music videos of late…She is dancing around and below him, she is an armrest for him, she is performing for him (and us – not an essentially bad thing, but a thing I’m keeping in mind) . . .”

“Ciara tends to be very sexualized in general. Did anyone see her performance with Chris Brown at the BET awards? This is how she markets herself…But I feel Ciara’s video is too sexual, and I blame that all on her. We need to start making women accountable in these situations.”

“I think the portrayal of Black women in general, rather a Black rapper or rip-off artist like Justin Timberlake, is discraceful no matter who does it. We have girls and boys, Black, white, latino, asian, in middle school watching this crap, and thinking this is how men and women act, and women should have to get half naked to get status while boys have to be immature, crass, and disrespectful, its alienating to the self and destroys creativity. What ever happened to convincing and natural sexuality?” Continue reading

Reflections on Lola [The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao] (Part 1 of 2)

by Latoya Peterson

*Note – Spoilers and lengthy.*


My mother would never win any awards, believe me. You could call her an absentee parent: if she wasn’t at work she was sleeping and when she was around it seemed all she did was scream and hit. As kids, me and Oscar were more scared of our mother than we were of the dark or el cuco. She would hit us anywhere, in front of anyone, always free with the chanclas and the correa, but now with her cancer there’s not much she can do anymore. The last time she tried to whale on me it was because of my hair, but instead of cringing or running I punched her hand. It was a reflex more than anything, but once it happened, I knew I couldn’t take it back, not ever, and so I just kept my fist clenched, waiting for whatever came next, for her to attack me with her teeth like she did to this one lady in the Pathmark. But she just stood there shaking, in her stupid wig and her stupid bata, with two large foam prostheses in her bra, the smell of burning wig all around us. I almost felt sorry for her. This is how you treat your mother? she cried.

And if I could have I would have broken the entire length of my life across her face, but instead I screamed back, And this is how you treat your daughter?

Things had been bad between us all year. How could they not have been? She was my Old World Dominican mother and I was her only daughter, the one she had raised up herself with the help of nobody, which meant it was her duty to keep me crushed under her heel. I was fourteen and desperate for my own patch of world that had nothing to do with her. I wanted the life that I used to see when I watched Big Blue Marble as a kid, the life that drove me to make pen pals and to take atlases home from school. The life that existed beyond Paterson, beyond my family, beyond Spanish. As soon as she became sick I saw my chance, and I’m not going to pretend or apologize; I saw my chance and eventually, I took it.

If you didn’t grow up like I did then you don’t know, and if you don’t know then it’s probably better you don’t judge.

You don’t know the hold our mothers have on us, even the ones that are never around – especially the ones that are never around. What it’s like to be the perfect Dominican daughter, which is just a nice way of saying a perfect Dominican slave. You don’t know what it’s like to grow up with a mother who never said a positive thing in her life, not about her children or the world, who was always suspicious, always tearing you down and splitting your dreams straight down the seams. When my first pen pal, Tomoko, stopped writing me after three letters, she was the one who laughed: You think someone’s going to lose life writing to you? Of course, I cried; I was eight and I had already planned that Tomoko and her family would adopt me. My mother of course saw clean into the marrow of those dreams and laughed. I wouldn’t write to you either, she said. She was that kind of mother: who makes you doubt yourself, who would wipe you out if you let her. But I’m not going to pretend either. For a long time I believed her. I was a fea, and I was worthless, I was an idiota.

The Wildwood, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

My eyes drank in every word of Wildwood, the second chapter in Junot Díaz’s novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. On the plane from Baltimore to Austin, the narrative gripped me solidly by the throat, turning a casual curiosity about Oscar into a desperate longing to hear more from his sister Lola.

When the plane touched down, my sweatshirt was crunchy with the salt from shed tears and I had run through six napkins while the story unfolded. I grabbed my bags, and called my boyfriend who had been badgering me about reading the novel for some months now.

“Why didn’t you mention Lola?” I asked.

“Who? Oscar’s sister? Why is that…oh.” His voice suddenly bloomed with recognition and we sat in silence for a few seconds. Continue reading

Off-Topic: Ain’t Saying He’s A Gold Digger: Looking At Bromance & I Love You, Man

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

Editor’s Note – While checking out tips from readers, evaluating episodes of Daddy’s Little Girls, and checking up on The Real World, something kept grating on my nerves. The heavily promoted Bromance dances into decidedly homo-erotic territory – but the wink and nudge protestations from the cast members (complete with “Dude, that’s so gay” remarks to keep people in check) I started to wonder what was up. I asked Arturo to take a quick peek at the show. – LDP

The question of male friendship and how “gay” it may or may not be is getting a little extra scrutiny these days, with new projects from Brody Jenner and Paul Rudd.

In the wake of Prop. 8′s passage in California, Jenner’s Bromance is taking MTV’s new approach to dating shows: same-sex humiliation. Produced by Momma’s Boy’s mastermind Ryan “I was Metro when that was still another word for subway” Seacrest, the show is Entourage by way of The Bachelor, with several dim-witted if sort-of-well-intentioned young men competing for a spot at Brody’s side. And really, who wouldn’t want to hang out with a professional do-nothing and his friend Sleazy T and Frankie Delgado — especially after their “initiation” involved getting dragged out of their beds wearing nothing but their boxers (or less) and a black bag over their head? My buddies and I play Gitmo Gotcha all the time!

The show’s challenges answer that question: money, and random women. Each of the show’s skill challenges features two or three random white female ornaments. The lone exception, of course, was the “Dating Game”-style game which cross-promoted Lauren Conrad – she’s random enough on her own. The contestants’ first task, in fact, was to bring “hot chicks” to a lingerie party. (It also should be noted that seemingly 75 percent of the women who were convinced to go were Caucasian blondes.) Continue reading

I Didn’t Know My–Or Michelle’s–Ass Was That Interesting

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea Plaid

Did United Statesians electing its first president of color become an implicit invitation for liberal/progressive media outlets to talk about Black and brown behinds?

According to two of them, yep.

Salon started off the conversation with Erin Aubry Kaplan’s essay, “First Lady Got Back,” where she waxes ecstatic about First Lady Michelle Obama’s behind:

“…while it isn’t humongous, per se, it is a solid, round, black, class-A boo-tay. Try as Michelle might to cover it with those Mamie Eisenhower skirts and sheath dresses meant to reassure mainstream voters, the butt would not be denied.

As America fretted about Obama’s exoticism and he sought to calm the waters with speeches about unity and common experience, Michelle’s body was sending a different message: To hell with biracialism! Compromise, bipartisanship? Don’t think so. Here was one clear signifier of blackness that couldn’t be tamed, muted or otherwise made invisible. It emerged right before our eyes, in the midst of our growing uncertainty about everything, and we were too bogged down in the daily campaign madness to notice. The one clear predictor of success that the pundits, despite all their fancy maps, charts and holograms, missed completely? Michelle’s butt.”

As my friend Tom would say, “Stop, Miss Gurl.”

There’s more–infinitely more–to what makes our new First Lady beautiful and a challenge to the white-beauty standard than her boo-tay. If Aubry Kaplan would have delved into the beauty-brains combo she started to discuss (“She has coruscating intelligence, beauty, style…”), the piece would have been sort of all right. Nope, just Michelle’s ass.

Then here comes Alternet with Myra Mendible’s “Big Booty Beauty and the New Sexual Aesthetic. Her take on the ass thang:

“We should not underestimate the symbolic value of buttocks. Butt metaphors helped European cultures categorize and describe their others, ascribing bodily differences certain moral and intellectual attributes. Gilman argues that, “Beginning with the expansion of European colonial exploration, describing the forms and size of the buttocks became a means of describing and classifying the races. The more prominent the more primitive…” (Making the Body Beautiful). British culture, in particular, identified the buttocks with primitive or debased sexuality (Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex). Non-Western women were associated with the “lower regions” of the body and characterized in terms of their abundant backside. Similarly, in American culture, the U.S.-Mexico border marked a figurative divide between Northern mind and Southern body, rationality and sensuality, domestic and foreign. This bodily trope culled associations between the lower body and the inferior, more primitive “under” developed “torrid zones” south of the border; it often served to rationalize U.S. military interventions or corporate exploitation of Latin American labor and resources.”

Analytically speaking, what Mendible wrote is what Aubry Kaplan should have written: a more nuanced reflection on the history and meaning of the colored butt in the erotic imaginations and racial and gender definitions of white people and Black men and Latinos and how that loaded image became a policy of exploitation for both groups. In other words, a little intersectionality would have helped Aubry Kaplan’s essay. Continue reading

Go Ahead, Vote for Obama’s Body (Slightly NSFW)

by Racialicious Sexual Correspondent Andrea Plaid

As some of you Racialicious readers know, quite a few of us love some fine men around here, regardless of our genders and orientations. And what I mean by “fine” is how Lisa Jones, author of Bulletproof Diva: Tales of Race, Sex, and Hair, means it: “cute with a story.” So, I’m getting this out of the way right now.

I think Senator Barack Obama is a fine-looking man.

But what’s been said recently about this sexy man and his self-identified Black phallus is causing some consternation and situating his sexuality in a strange dichotomous discourse.

Former Playgirl editor-in-chief Nicole Caldwell wrote a feature in last week’s NY Press about how obsessed some people are about Obama’s looks, by how sexy he is, and how their ideas about his sexiness falls into racialized sexual fantasies, namely that his Black maleness makes him good in bed and how that stereotype may anchor some of the buzziness in folks’ erotic fantasies about him and may be the reasoning behind their voting for him. However, that stereotyped-based buzziness, Caldwell contends, may be the very thing could ruin his chance to become president.

This being a sex-centered issue of the NYP, Caldwell tried hard—maybe a little too hard—to bring the bawdy talk about Bama. In her lede she interviewed a 52-year-old white moderate Republican man who had sex with a white twenty-something Obama supporter. During the sexual encounter, the Democrat moaned a name: Obama’s name. In the piece itself, she describes how women have written to her about how Playgirl perpetuates racist stereotypes about Black men by featuring brothas with long penises, the post-Kennedy/Nixon debate mindset of the physical and the visual mean the political, and the US celebrity culture and race operating in our collective erotic imagination. Then she calls in the cultural and political analysts, including our own Carmen Van Kerckhove.

(Note: Caldwell called Racialicious “salacious.” Like I said, we can get down like that over here—and, yes, Carmen starts a lot of it with her Keanu Reeves posts–but La Playgirl EIC is seriously reaching, like all we do is write about the folks we want to sex up and how, served anti-racism style.)

“I’ve always been a little perplexed around the media’s obsession with Barack’s looks,” says Carmen Van Kerckhove, co-founder and president of racial consulting firm New Demographic and head of the popular and salacious blog, Racialicious. “He’s good looking for a politician, but he doesn’t have movie-star good looks.” Van Kerckhove calls this overemphasis on the candidate’s looks trite. “People think, ‘I can’t be racist, I think Obama is good looking.’ I’ve always interpreted people tripping over themselves to say how good-looking he is as revealing a level of [embedded] racism.” Continue reading

Shame on You: Shame Cartoons

by Guest Contributor Ethar El-Katatney, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch.

They’re popping up everywhere in harmless-looking packaging: shame cartoons.

A quick search online will turn up a multitude of articles, op-eds and full-on rants appealing to women’s sense of shame (One particularly delightful article was titled “I appeal to your sense of shame my Muslim sister.”)

And then we have cartoons.

The first kind are pretty straightforward: they want you to get veiled. But rather than engage you in discussions about interpretation of hadith or Qur’an, they try and shame you into wearing it.

As expected, most come across as being judgmental, preachy and rude. And ones that focus so much on women’s dress kind of miss out on an important point: what you put on your head is not necessarily more important than what goes on inside it.

The “hijabi shame cartoons” start from the fairly innocent “the veil is an obligation just like prayer” written next to a woman covering her hair and praying, to the more extreme: I’ve actually seen one of a woman wearing niqab (face veil) which shows her eyes standing in front of a fire (!) because according to that author, showing your eyes is haram (divinely forbidden).

Let’s take a cartoon that’s ‘in the middle’:

First off, it assumes that there is only one correct interpretation of hijab (veil),* and that those who wear it ‘improperly’ (let alone not wear it at all) are in the wrong, wrong, wrong.

Second, it equates dress with behavior, which in some ways is even worse than stereotypes of veiled women (oppressed, asexual, powerless, helpless, low IQ etc). Hijab is seen as the be-all and end-all. I’m a proud hijabi myself, but that doesn’t mean I was automatically transformed into a perfect Muslim the moment I wore it. Just because a woman wears a veil doesn’t meant that she doesn’t struggle with temptations just like any other person, or that she’s better than an unveiled girl.

(I particularly like the touch of designing the cartoon so the face of the veiled woman is ‘glowing’ because she’s so ‘good’).

The second type of shame cartoons are a hundred times worse. Because not only are they trying to shame women into dressing (and acting) in a certain way, but they’re trying to make them think that if they don’t veil and dress ‘properly’ they’re at fault if they get sexually harassed. Continue reading

I Know Why Zane Sells

by Guest Contributor M. Dot, originally published at Model Minority

Zane sells because her fiction allows Black women to be sexual in a culture that refuses to acknowledge that we are sexual, a culture that calls us hos if are so inclined to be sexual, talk about sex, or even look like we are human and have a sexual appetite.

When was the last time you saw a Black woman have a love interest and sex in a movie?

Or a tv show?

Yesterday, I was doing all this reading of Hortense Spillers, Tricia Rose and Hegel (whom I struggle with tremendously), as I am developing an outline for a writing sample.

When instantly, Zane’s popularity clicked for me.

Professor Spillers essay titled, Intercises: A Small Drama of Words discusses, the position of Black women’s sexuality in American culture.

She writes,

Our sexuality remains an unarticulated nuance in various forms of public discourse as though we are figments of the great invisible empire of womankind.

If I attempted to lay hold to any fictional text-discursively rendered experience of Black women, by themselves- I encounter a disturbing silence that acquires paradox, the status of contradiction.

Continue reading

Quoted (WTF Edition): Dan Savage


For some reason, I have always found Native Americans to be sexually attractive. But the semidark skin and traditional breechcloth thing isn’t easy to find in porn or real life. I was wondering if you had some pointers for someone with a bad case of Native American Jungle Fever.
– Native Amateur

“The letter writer is correct,” says Sherman Alexie, a Native American and a National Book Award–winning author who was willing to demean himself by giving me a quote. “There is a dearth of Native American porn.”

But Alexie tells me that once, while hunting for antique board games, he typed “cowboy and Indian action figures” into Google and found his way to a site that featured U.S. Cavalry soldiers and loinclothed Indians smoking more than peace pipes. But that’s all he’s got, pornwise. As for real life…

“There’s just no way your reader is going to find an Indian willing to put on a loincloth for sexual purposes,” says Alexie. “Unless that Indian is a seriously damaged, culturally disconnected, politically unaware, and unsafe-sex-practicing slut.”

I part ways with Alexie here. Not because I know more about Native Americans or Native American kinks. Goodness, no. But over the years, I’ve heard from too many healthy, politically aware, and sexually safe African Americans who dig role-playing slavery scenarios—and too many good Jews who get off on concentration-camp scenarios, and too many polite Canadians who adore clueless-American-tourist scenarios (“Ooh, ask me who our ‘president’ is again!”)—to rule out the possibility that there are smart, safe Native Americans genuinely interested in role-playing cowboys-in-injuns out there somewhere. But they’re gonna be rare, NA.

So what can you do to up your odds of finding the action you seek?

“If the letter writer is an attractive blond female,” says Alexie, “she can head to the next powwow in the region where she lives, pick out a handsome fancydancer, and hit on him. She’ll either get laid in the back of a casino-money-financed SUV or she’ll get assaulted by a roving band of Indian women looking to protect our most precious and dwindling resource: Native American men.”

Dan, I need to know. What bodily function is the opposite of an orgasm? Thanks a lot.
– Could Use More


“Though it’s not exactly a bodily function, the back spasm is the opposite of an orgasm,” says Sherman Alexie, the National Book Award–winning author.

“Why did he send that question to Alexie?” some of my readers are no doubt asking themselves. That is a question only a thoughtless bigot would ask and I shouldn’t dignify it with a response. But let’s approach this as a teaching moment: I sent this question to Alexie because he is the father of two and, we can reasonably extrapolate, the haver of orgasms, which more than qualifies him. Back to Alexie:

“While the orgasm is the pleasurable release of stress, the back spasm is the painful reminder of collected and unexpelled stress. I am currently typing one-handed because I am shoving my fist deep into my lower back as some sort of half-assed pressure-point massage. Of course, since the U.S. has become a chair-and-computer culture, the number of people who are currently massaging their wrecked backs is vastly larger than the number who are massaging their sexual organs.”

And when you pause to consider that all of the U.S. and most of Canada were basically built on top of a giant Indian graveyard, I’d say we’re getting off easy with a little lower-back pain.

—Excerpted from Savage Love, “Cowboys-in-Injuns,” published September 4th, 2008.