Tag Archives: sexuality

I Haven’t Actually Been Called a Slut

By Creatrix Tiara, cross-posted from Creatrix Tiara

Not that I know of anyway – no one’s said that to me in my face. I don’t even know if I’ve been called a harlot or a whore or any other synonym for a loose promiscuous woman.

People don’t often tend to associate me with sexuality, at least when they just see me and don’t really know about what I get up to. “Unattractive” or “ugly” would probably be more common insults, asides from “you Bangla”.

But the biggest reason though is because I spent all my life in a society and culture where people didn’t even talk about sexuality. That thing about how women are sexualised in society through ads and media and all that? Not where I came from! You were meant to be pure, innocent, untouched, sweet…”sweet” was actually a word that got used a hell of a lot as a compliment, come to think of it.

If you wanted to denote someone as slutty, trashy, harlot-like, you know what you’d call them?

Sexy.

Continue reading

Quoted (Double Edition): Erykah Badu on Female Sexuality and Emotions

When Erykah Badu walked naked for 13 seconds (when the video was shot, she had the full song sped up to one minute and 32 seconds, then slowed back down in editing), it was for her art and not sexual consumption. It’s a stance she feels contributed to the outrage. “We’re just not fashioned for [nudity],” says Badu. “Especially the Black women, the ‘Hottentot Venus’ women, big-booty women, the large posterior, with no shoes on and a scarf on her head, you know that ain’t sexy.” [...]

“Society has a problem with female nudity when it is not . . . ”—Badu pauses to get her words together; she wants this point to be very clear—“. . . when it is not packaged for the consumption of male entertainment. Then it becomes confusing.” [...]

“To me it’s like traditional performance art like Yoko Ono, or Nina Simone. Research some of those women. They all seem to live by the same theme: Well-behaved women rarely make history. Even looking at people like Harriet Tubman and those types of women. When you have strong convictions about something you know what you already gonna do. I look at some other videos. I’m not naming names, because I don’t want that to be mentioned. There is the thing with sexuality. I’m naked for 13 seconds, and these people are naked the whole time and gyrating and saying come “lick on my lollipop,” and “suck on my cinnamon roll,” and, you know, suggesting sex. People are uncomfortable with sexuality that’s not for male consumption. Could be ‘cause I did it in public too. Do you think people would have been complaining if I had on high-heel shoes?”

— From the June/July Vibe Cover Profile of Erykah Badu

Arise: Earlier, you called performance your therapy. Is performance how you deal with pain?

Erykah Badu: I accept pain as part of growing. Everyone goes through it. And in the process of it, it’s unpleasant, but I’m still peaceful and happy. Continue reading

Keri Hilson, Ciara, and “Appropriate” Sexuality

by Latoya Peterson

So, I started hearing some rumbling about Keri Hilson’s video for her song “The Way You Love Me.” Video mildly NSFW, audio definitely NSFW:

And the lyrics?

Yeah, you can see – just where we wanna be
I got that kinda lovin’ that’ll keep you off the streets
Yeah, you can see – just where we wanna be
The way you love me the way you love me (Fuck Me)
Yeah, that’s me – just where we wanna be
I got that kinda pussy that’ll keep you off the streets
Yeah, that’s me – just where we wanna be
The way you love me the way you love me (Fuck Me)

Love me, love me – it’s the way you love me
Touch me, touch me – it’s the way you touch me
Fuck me, fuck me – it’s the way you fuck me
(It’s) the way you love me baby you got me goin’ crazy

Now, as far as I can tell, it’s a fairly standard music video, perhaps a little more risque than some. Much of the drama seems to stem from the fact that Hilson dropped the euphemisms and demanded a good screw.

But to be honest, I wonder if people are reacting to the vulgarity or the person saying it. It reminds me of how shocked I was when Renina pointed out that Ciara’s video for “Ride” had been banned from BET for being too explicit. Continue reading

Quoted: Menda Francois on Nicki Minaj and Feminist Contradictions in Hardcore Female Rap

Nicki Minaj w Champange Bottle

As much potential as there is for female empowerment in hardcore rap through women rappers’ embrace of the erotic, given the restrictive conventions of the genre, which force female artists to straddle identities of heterosexist sexiness and simultaneous masculinity, its full potential is rarely ever realized. In Minaj’s embrace of Lil Kim’s pussy power politics, she is also inevitably embracing, regardless of her actual intent and/or acceptance of rejection of the label, a controversial and rather contradictory ideology of feminism. [...]

Implicit in Minaj’s Signification onto the male narrative is a strategic process of identity construction, relying primarily on the male narrative and male voice to help shape the hardcore female rapper’s public image. Essentially, by engaging in dialogue with the male narrative, Minaj is aligning herself with male rappers and creating her identity as one of (pseudo)masculinity, an asset valuable to her role as a hardcore female rapper. It is within this genre that femcees operate as performers of gender and are most harshly judged by an injurious rubric of masculinity. These women are forced to negotiate “androgynous” identities as visually feminine, yet rhetorically masculine artists. [...]
In hardcore female rap, femcees are constant performers of masculinity who, between their Signifyin(g) on male [sexual] discourse and (re) appropriating sexist and misogynistic language, negotiate a treacherous space where a thin line exists between the subversion of male dominance via gender performance and affirmation of its patriarchal norms. [...]

If Minaj were genuinely interested in ascribing true power to her role as a woman and rejecting female rappers’ traditional dependence on the male voice for expression and validation, she would have drawn parallels between herself and powerful public female figures to construct her version of the new-age around the way girl. Continue reading

Cult of the Freaknasty: a Glimpse into the Hip Hop Erotic

By  Guest Contributor Regina N. Barnett, originally published at Red Clay Scholar

A couple of weeks back I had the pleasure of attending a Rap Sessions panel that discussed the question of women and their role in Hip Hop. One particular response by Dr. Raquel Rivera really stuck with me: “we are too fast to demonize the raunch. Don’t demonize the Raunch!” Joan Morgan (yes, THE Joan Morgan) followed up with an astute observation that American society does not have a discourse available for the erotic. My first response? “Ha! I love that!” The second response? “Yeah, that makes sense.”

What is our fascination with sexuality? Particularly, what is our fascination with the erotic and its impact on our understanding of blackness? (Hyper)sexuality often frames our understanding of men and women of color since our implementation into western culture. It is a gendered and oppressive space, often maintaining rigid boundaries and unilateral interpretation. For centuries, the black body existed primarily within the confinements of sexual expression. And, unfortunately, that space has not completely evolved. The Americanized erotic is transfixed within the slave discourse and white privilege that dominated the antebellum United States. Although I do not deny that women have been objectified via the infamous “male gaze,” a “one-up” that white women have over black women is the fact that at least their “honor” and “purity” granted them access to the coveted cult of true womanhood. Their bodies and sexuality are considered worthy of preserving and being respected. Black women, however, have inherited membership in the cult of the freaknasty. Breeders, freak (a leek)s, Jezebels, and, as Abbey Lincoln suggests, “sexual outhouses of white men,” African American women have not been able to remove themselves from the perspective of a sexual lens. Continue reading

Window Seat: Does Erykah Badu’s Booty Obscure Her Artistic Message?

by Guest Contributor Noorain Khan, originally published at Jezebel

*Video Slightly NSFW*

A People.com poll posted yesterday afternoon asks, “Did Erykah Badu Go Too Far in Naked New Video?” So far, almost 60% of respondents agree.

At the intersection of sexism, nudity, and art sits Badu’s latest artistic endeavor, the controversial music video for her first official single, Window Seat. And everyone’s been talking about it.

The video features Badu walking through Dallas’s historic Dealey Plaza, the site of the Kennedy assassination, while stripping down to nothing but a hat. The crowd of bystanders includes children. It ends with what appears to be Badu’s own assassination by gunshot, after she removes the last of her clothing.

The internet has been ablaze with wide-ranging reactions and commentary following the video’s debut last wekeend:

“It is not just about the nudity — it is also about where she decided to film this piece of junk….and then to include the gun shot….it was very disrespectful. … she did this with no regard for anyone else but herself.” – thm, posted on the Dallas Morning News site, March 30th

“I think Erykah Badu is brilliant. That video was the deepest, most sincere, undeniably real video I’ve ever seen. EVER.” –Tyeastia, posted on CNN.com March 31st

“Sorry. I appreciate the statement and the thought behind the video, and I’m also a huge Badu fan. That said, the nudity and subsequent mock assassination? With the children present? Sorry, I’m not feeling it.” –Shola Akinnuso, posted on The Root, March 30th

Badu’s video is undoubtedly an atom bomb of visual imagery. As an artist who has never shied away from articulating her consciousness-raising agenda through metaphor, the Window Seat video has prompted many to ask, does Erykah Badu’s booty obscure her artistic message? Continue reading

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

Quoted: Andreana Clay on Queer Women of Color and Hip Hop Masculinity

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson

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A variety of clubs cater to queer women of color in the San Francisco Bay area. Some are wall-to-wall women of color – Black, Latina, Asian and most play hip-hop music non-stop. In each club, there are all different kinds of women. For instance, there might be women over forty with long ‘locks, Hawaiian shirts, shorts, and Teva sandals in one corner of the room and younger, Butch, women wearing crisp, indigo-colored Levi’s with thick black belts, large belt buckles and perfectly gelled hair in another. There are also femme women in tight jeans or skirts, heels, and short T-shirts, some cut around the collar so that they slide down their shoulders. In every club I that I’ve been to, there is always a clearly designated dance floor, which is usually packed tight with sweaty bodies. Some clubs have elevated dance floors or stages with one or two go-go dancers dressed in hot pants and knee-high boots. Below them are women lined up with dollars. In the background, hip-hop music fills the room with beats and voices, sometimes the only male presence in the room. What type of male, and ultimately what type of masculinity depends on the club.

On Gay Pride weekend this year, I went out to several of these clubs. Two in particular stuck out in my mind because of their similarities and differences in relationship to queer sexuality and black masculinity. For instance, at one of the clubs I went to, the deejay played songs that characterize more of the nigga, or thug image in hip-hop- 2Pac, Biggie Smalls, the Game, and 50 Cent. At the second club, the music had much more of a playa or sexualized tone – the Ying Yang twins, David Banner, and Khia. While there are two different types of masculinity being played at each club, in a room full of women of color, the lyrics fall to the background as the performances take center stage. For instance, nigga masculinity in the first club is reflected in a particular style, stance, or code. It is more about an individual identity, one that each person can take on. Women throw up hand gestures as they dance, make eye contact with one another and mouth the words to the lyrics. Some women even had on T-shirts with the ultimate “nigga 4 life,” 2Pac. The tone set at this club is also about community. The mood isn’t so much about sex or domination sexually, but rather, a stance about who someone is or declares herself to be: being down, being able to take what comes in life, being loyal to this group, this identity, and this community.

In the second club, the playa image was much more prevalent. If you wanted someone to help you get your groove on, this was the place to be. Women would grind their bodies into one another, and move one another’s bodies around to the direction of the lyrics. Queer sexuality was much more on display, as a woman, you wanted to be looked at, have somebody notice you, and maybe take you home. For instance, at one point, I noticed two women on the stage, dancing with one another. One of the women, in baggy jeans and a baseball jersey picked up the wman she was dancing with who was wearing a short, silver skirt and tank top. She then lifted her up onto the bars surrounding the stage and then put her face into the woman’s skirt under the musical direction of “work that clit, cum girl.” I had to sit down. Continue reading