Category Archives: sexuality

Black Booty Body Politics

by Latoya Peterson


Whose Pussy Is This?
Now I have to ask this question
Cuz you mothafuckas keep disrespectin’ my shit
In every line that your lame asses spit
I’m forced to hear about my pussy
That is always on sale
A hot retail item
wrapped in plastic
for $12.99
And this shit is drastic
Bcuz everyone thinks they too have ownership of something that belongs to me
And I do not agree with this [...]

—”Whose Pussy Is This?” by Chyann L. Oliver, published in Home Girls Make Some Noise

It all started with a note, surreptitiously passed to me in health class in 9th grade. My friend poked me across the aisle, and handed me a bit of notebook paper. In pencil, the note read, “Toya got a big ole butt, oh yeah!”

Sigh.

I first became aware of the male gaze when I was twelve years old. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I realized that a guy pulled up behind me on a busy highway, inquiring if I needed a ride somewhere and telling me how pretty I was. Until that point, I thought men only catcalled girls who wanted attention. I had friends who wore tight skirts and low cut tops and makeup, all things that were generally forbidden in my mother’s household. My outfit that day had passed muster with her – a blue baby tee, wide leg jeans (as went the suburban style in the 90s), white reebok classics. I looked my age. And yet, for some reason, men reacted to me differently.

The note slipped to me in 9th grade was the beginning of the realization that despite my best efforts, the most remarked upon part of my body would be my ass. More polite people would talk about my figure and point out all the benefits of being a classic hourglass. Less polite people would quote song lyrics at me (Whoop, whoop, pull over, that ass is too fat!) or make rude remarks about what they would like to do with my ass. It never seemed to matter if I was a size 10 or a size 18 – my body shape would not be denied, no matter how many pounds I packed on.

Over time, I learned different strategies to cope with the attention I received. A large part of coping was reclaiming my body and learning to embrace my curves as a part of my own sexuality. In order to do that, I had to learn to separate the ideas projected on to me by others and understand how I felt about my own body. I discovered the affirming power of hip-hop – as well as its destructive objectification of the black female form. Just as Mark Anthony Neal informs his feminism with the acknowledgment it can be difficult to reconcile feminist principles with heterosexual male desire, it can be difficult to fuse cultural beauty standards, popular perceptions of the female form, and still come out with something resembling a healthy sense of the sexual self. Continue reading

I Like the Erotic and the Porn: Looking Back at Audre Lorde’s “Uses of the Erotic”

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea Plaid

I feel like I can’t call myself a “good” Black feminist if I’m not down with Audre Lorde. I feel fake if I don’t raise my fist or give an “Amen!” when another Black feminist or a feminist of color says/writes/puts on a t-shirt, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

Then I add “sex-positive” to the “Black feminist” descriptor–I try to be of “do-you-with-lots-of-latex-lube-and-consent” crew–and then I feel like Audre and I don’t see sexing it up the same way, especially around ideas of what’s erotic and what’s pornography.

So, I sat down and reconsidered her essay, “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.”

But first, some background about me: I came to feminist theory, as bell hooks says, to explain the pain of my surviving rape at the age of five. I needed an answer to the pain of someone feeling entitled to override my bodily integrity, my being able to sexually consent. I also looked at my late father’s porn at a very early age, too. My mom said a “good Black woman” didn’t have sex before she was engaged and the “facts of life” were explained via her old nursing books or when a biological event (like my first period), a TV show, or a book mentioning sex precipitated the discussion by her.

Something had to give—or synthesize.

Continue reading

30 Under 30: Mia Mingus

By Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

miamingus

Mia Mingus
Age: 28
Co-Executive Director, SPARK Reproductive Justice Now

Why she’s influential: Because she’s an agent of real-world change in the reproductive justice movement. Mia Mingus is a queer, physically disabled Korean American transracial/ transnational adoptee, living and organizing in the Southeast. She currently serves as one of the Co-Directors of SPARK Reproductive Justice Now in Atlanta and believes that reproductive justice is crucial in the struggle for social change and the fight to end oppression.

Mia is an activist, organizer, thinker, writer, artist and speaker who’s not only in the middle of it all, but connecting it all together. Through her work on disability, race, gender, reproductive justice, sexuality, transracial and transnational adoption, and intersectional identities/politics, she recognizes the urgency and barriers for oppressed communities to work together and build alliances for liberation.

If you’re at all involved with the queer, API, and/or disability social justice movements, you know that Mia is a transformative figure. Maybe you saw her speak at the US Social Forum Plenary on Gender and Sexuality or attended her workshop on Reproductive Justice at NAASCON 08. Perhaps you heard her speak as the keynote of the Western Regional Queer Conference 09 or receiving the Creating Change Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Though her activism changes and evolves, her roots remain firmly planted in ending sexual violence. On top of all that, everyone I spoke to about Mia describes her as a warm, thoughtful, accessible, and incredibly nice.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Steph Lee, one of several people who nominated Mia: “The fierce leadership of a young, queer, disabled, transracially/ transnationally adopted Korean woman should be recognized so that we can continue to more lovingly and effectively connect, break shit down, and keep building shit up.”

See the rest of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 here.