Erotic provocateur, racially-influenced humanist, relentless champion for the oppressed, and facilitator for social change, Scottie Lowe is the brain child, creative genius and the blood, sweat, and tears behind AfroerotiK. Intended to be part academic, part educational, and part sensual, she, yes SHE gave birth to the website to provide people of African descent a place to escape the narrow-mined, stereotypical, limiting and oft-times degrading beliefs that abound about our sexuality. No, not all Black men are driven by lust by white flesh or to create babies and walk away. No, not all Black women are promiscuous welfare queens. And as hard as it may be to believe, no, not all gay Black men are feminine, down low, or HIV positive. Scottie is putting everything on the table to discuss, debate, and dismantle stereotypes in a healthy exchange of ideas. She hopes to provide a more holistic, informed, and enlightened discussion of Black sexuality and dreams of helping couples be more open, honest, and adventurous in their relationships.

Showing posts with label empowerment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label empowerment. Show all posts

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Slut Shaming

There is this very false and detrimental belief among young people that anything and everything that a woman does is empowering and that anyone who critiques, evaluates, or disagrees with women’s collective behaviors is slut shaming and imposing rigid respectability politics rules in order to control and oppress women.  This concept is damaging and unhealthy not only to the women who get offended by any sort of critique of women’s collective behaviors but to the cause of fighting for women’s liberation and for real feminism. 

First, let’s CORRECTLY define what slut-shaming is and isn’t.  Slut shaming IS the act of placing an inferior or stigmatized status on women for the normal, healthy expression of their sexuality.  Slut shaming IS denigrating women for having pre-marital sex, for seeking out and using birth control, for having an abortion, or for having multiple sex partners.    Slut-shaming is telling women that they can’t have certain kinds of sex, that they are immoral or unworthy if they aren’t virginal and chaste, it’s the male-dominated society’s double standard that tries to shame women for being sexual.  Slut-shaming IS criminalizing women for their participation in prostitution and men getting a free pass.

What slut-shaming IS NOT stating that sex work/prostitution is not empowering.  Sex work is, in fact, participating in the objectification of women, it is reinforcement of patriarchal, sexist, misogynist, violent, abusive, degrading, demeaning roles for women.  One can condemn sex work and not sex workers.  Sex workers are women who feel that they have no other viable skills, that they want to sell whatever they have that men will pay for, they are all too often victims of domestic abuse, molestation, and unhealthy home environments that lead them to sell their bodies.  Sex work has been made out to be empowering because women are getting paid and, supposedly, the financial exchange, the fact that women have agency in their own objectification, is supposed to negate the fact that they are still being used by men as cum dumps, as things, as less than human beings.  Slut-shaming is not critiquing the entire hierarchy of the sex work industry that deems that blond, educated, surgically enhanced, articulate white women are sold for more than even her Black counterpart. 

This false notion persists that sex work is glamorous, that it’s getting paid to do what you do for free any way, that it’s taking advantage of men’s weakness, their stupidity, their willingness to part with their money for something as simple as a few minutes of sex.  The reality is, sex work is degrading, it’s dehumanizing, it’s not at all empowering.  Young girls are convinced that being a porn star or a stripper or a prostitute is easy money but it never is.  There is always a man pulling the strings, setting the price, demanding more than was negotiated for, taking out his frustrations, and treating ALL women like things he can use.  COUNTLESS documentaries have been made to chronicle the stories of women who said they got into porn thinking it would be easy money and how they got strung out on drugs and were forced to do 12-16 hours of endless gangbangs, how they suffered physically and ended up in the hospital with STDs and displaced uteruses and other horrific things because some porn producer or director kept pushing them to do more and more and then they didn’t get paid or got paid less than what they contracted for.  There are far too many women who have told horrific tales of being raped and beaten by johns yet the masses still insist that prostitution is empowering.  The trafficking of children is an alarmingly dangerous byproduct of prostitution and young women don’t seem to grasp that it is a very real consequence to the normalization of prostitution.  Critiquing prostitution is NOT slut-shaming.  Critiquing prostitution is making an effort to dismantle the false belief system that tells women that their most valuable asset lies between their legs.  Critiquing prostitution is trying to destroy the sexist mindset that allows men to think women are objects and things to be used and thrown away. 

Rationalizing that sex work is empowering is the equivalent of rationalizing that cutting or bulimia is empowering.  I am not shaming the women who cut themselves or who have bulimia, they are women led to self-destructive behaviors because of low self-esteem in a society that doesn’t value them or their personhood.   The solution is not to insist that cutting or bulimia is perfectly fine as long as the person doing it considers it empowering.  Sex work is the commodification of sex, of women’s bodies, it places a value on them for what they can do for men, how they can please men.  Just because women can get a purse or expensive pair of shoes from it does not mean it’s empowering.  This concept that money is the great equalizer, that if a woman can get paid, then that makes getting used by men just fine, great in fact.  The propagation of this false narrative that sex work is great because you get to sleep with a basketball player or a rapper and get to live this glamorous life and be wined and dined, and maybe even end up the Real Housewife of one of these men drives dozens of young women to doing cam shows, and then dancing, and then selling it outright. 

The false narrative is that sex work is no big deal, that it’s easy money, that women (or male or trans prostitutes) are taking advantage of men, calling the shots, that they are in control.  You are NOT in control of a male-dominated situation where men have decided how much they want to pay to use you.  Even for the less than 1% of young ladies who find their way to the Presidential Suite during All-Star Week, you are not setting yourself up to be in a healthy relationship, not one of your johns is going to see your value as a human being, they are not going to consider you a partner with whom they need to compromise, share, negotiate, or respect, you are an object, a pretty possession that can be replaced when the next pretty object comes along.  It is not empowering to perpetuate the concept that women have price tags on their pussies.  AGAIN, that is not slut-shaming the women who sell their bodies.  I am not saying that the women who sell their bodies are bad, sinful, shameful, wrong, dirty, despicable, or any other negative or pejorative term.  It’s simply stating that the system of misogyny and sexism that manifests in the sale of women’s bodies shouldn’t be validated or normalized because it’s not healthy. 

“Well, I know lots of women who just like sex and they do it because they want to, and they weren’t abused or molested or anything.”   Most women who enter into prostitution were molested however.  They were raped, or victims of domestic violence, they were violated as young women and girls.  Most women (and men) become drug addicts, they are raped, they have horrific tales to tell of sick, twisted, perverted sexual acts they were made to perform.  Normalizing your abuse isn’t empowering either.  “Well, some women don’t have any other options, they don’t have any other skills.”  That, in and of itself, is the problem.  We shouldn’t be teaching young girls that what’s between their legs is a marketable product.  Young women refuse to hear that.  They are convinced beyond the shadow of an intelligent, logical, reasonable doubt that sex work is great. 

I get it.  Young women want to feel validation, they want to feel like they are justified in their choices because they don’t want to be made to feel embarrassed or stigmatized or shamed because that makes them feel insecure and defensive.  They rationalize that because they aren’t selling it on the street corner, because they are college-educated and they are paying off their loans, because they are only doing every once in a while to pay the rent or their car note, or because they have kids and their baby daddy doesn’t pay his child support that there is nothing wrong with it.  They don’t want to be made to feel bad about their choices.  But not all choices are healthy, even if you are a willing participant, and negative consequences result from many a bad choice. 

Because we live in a society where young people have NO concept of what a healthy relationship is, they immediately dismiss any model of a symbiotic, mutually beneficial partnering that I may suggest as an alternative because they know of no other reality other than the dysfunctional one they have been raised with.  Let’s say you hit the jackpot, your first time out you find the basketball player who just signed the $7 million contract, he doesn’t ask you for anything too weird or degrading or hurtful, and he is so mesmerized with your nana and your bedroom skills that he wants to make you his #1.  If you enter into a relationship with this man who has purchased your body, do you sincerely think that he will not cheat on you, or that he will respect your rules and boundaries?  He will not only not value you as a person or a partner, your opinion, your other talents and abilities, but he will not even blink when he is offered an opportunity to bed another woman because you are nothing more than a trophy, a thing he paid for to show off.  That is not empowering! 

Sex work is participating in the objectification of women and that is NOT empowering.  Participating in sex work is reinforcing that women are “less than”, that they shouldn’t seek sexual expression that is based on love, respect, commitment and mutual cooperation, it’s saying, “That stuff about women being respected and loved is fairy-tale bullshit that doesn’t happen in the real world, the best a woman can hope for is that she finds a rich dude who has more money than common sense.”  If fact, if I suggest that sex should be based on love, should be based on respect, should be based on a level of commitment to a relationship, I’m supposedly imposing respectability politics on the free sexual expression of women.  But that’s not what I’m saying at all.  I’m not saying that women shouldn’t be able to have casual sex.  I’m not suggesting for a moment that if a woman has sex purely for pleasure in the restroom of a club with a total stranger whose name she doesn’t know that she’s a bad person.   Our rape/porn culture has convinced young women that the only valid form of sex is degrading/humiliating/objectifying sex and that there is no other alternative other than some 1950s oppressive model of vanilla, conservative boring sex.    That will be the downfall of our society, believing that women were created to be slapped, choked, spit on, gagged, and used as a hole for men’s pleasure and that getting paid for that is empowering. 

The goal of Feminism 2.0 should not be for women to be as sexually indiscriminate as men because men are unhealthy and warped in their views of sex.  That’s not something we should be striving for and equality on those terms is conforming to sickness.  We should be evolving in our views on sex.  We should be seeking to view sex in a healthier, more holistic, more empowering way.  Instead we are reinforcing and normalizing the objectification of women, we should be looking to use sex as a tool of communication, of meditation, of connection, of YES, even of love.  I’m not trying to impose puritanical rules on sex, I’m not saying that sex should be boring and only for procreation, that isn’t healthy at all either.  Sadly, the masses can’t see any other way to view sex other than to simply reinforce the status quo, to participate in the unhealthy practices that have become the norm.   Sex should be something that is earned with trust, with communication, with vulnerability, with intimacy.  Until we grasp that, until women decide that there is no price that a man could pay for her most sacred space, that as a holy sex priestess, she will only allow men who respect, revere, and cherish her to enter her sacred walls.  Then, when a man has earned that right, fuck like animals.  Fuck the sheets off the bed, wake the neighbors, experiment with anything safe, sane, and consensual.  When you find a partner with whom you can share your secrets, your vulnerabilities, your dreams and fears, then is when you can share your nastiest fantasies and make them a reality.  THAT IS EMPOWERING. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Yes, You Do Have a Right to . . .

(Young, twenty and thirty something women won’t read this, they will reject it immediately.  It is my prayer that mothers and fathers of young girls and boys will read this.  It is my hope that parents of young girls and boys will grasp my intent and teach their children about the consent and rape from a more enlightened perspective.)

As a car owner, you have a right to leave your car running with the keys in the ignition, the doors unlocked and wide open, in the middle of a huge mall parking lot while you run in to grab a few items.  It’s your right.  It’s your car.  You bought it and paid for it and it’s yours to do with what you want.  You worked hard for that car and if you feel like you don’t want to have to turn the ignition off and on, and if you feel like you should be able to leave the keys in the ignition and unlocked simply because your name is on the title and it belongs to you, yes, you have that right.    If you did that, you would be clowned as the biggest, most delusional idiot to walk the face of the earth though.  The story of your stupidity would go viral around the world and you would break the internet.    Twitter would create a hashtag just for you. 

When you go on vacation, you have a right to leave the door of your house or apartment wide open, with all the lights on, with the mail and the newspapers piling up letting everyone know that you are out of town.  You certainly have that right to leave your TV, furniture, electronics, jewelry, and clothes in plain view of everyone to see while you enjoy yourself without a care in the world.  It’s your right.  You own that home.  You shouldn’t have to have a security system, you shouldn’t have to lock your doors if you don’t want to.  Everyone should know that it’s your home, your sanctuary, and that they should respect your rights and not violate them.  The police might even be able to muster up the pretense that you aren’t the biggest moron on the planet . . . for a few minutes when they arrive at the scene when you return home to find that every single thing that you own has been moved out and there is nothing left in your house but the nails in the wall where your once beautiful artwork used to hang.  

There can be no question or debate about whether or not you have the right to go to a coffee shop and do your personal banking on an open, unsecure WIFI account and leave your screen open, with your financial information in plain sight while you decide to go buy a double vanilla soy latte half caff with an extra espresso shot and foam, without having your identity stolen and every penny you own being embezzled.  Forget the designer drink and obscene stupidity of that scenario.  If you are in a free WIFI hotspot, you have the right to ask a total stranger to watch your laptop while you go to the bathroom.  I’ve done it.  You’ve done it.  We’ll all done it at one point.  If we’re lucky, the person will be honest and when we return from the rest room our things will still be there and we will not have been violated.

You have a right to have unprotected sex, you have a right to get drunk every night of the week, and you have a right to leave a loaded gun with the safety off in your home with children.  You have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, don’t you?  You can do whatever floats your little boat as long as it doesn’t violate another person’s rights.  There shouldn’t be any consequences to your actions, right?  You should be able to do anything you want and people have to respect that you have a right to do it.  It’s in the Constitution, isn’t it?  And while we would like to think that the person sitting next to us in Starbucks is honest and will not steal our stuff, that’s just wishful thinking because we know that in our society, people steal.  They lie.  They cheat.  They often times take what doesn’t belong to them. 

Just as all these examples of legitimate rights that people have are valid, they have committed no crimes, they have not broken any laws, there is NOTHING in the world that prevents anyone from doing each and every one of these things, there are foreseeable outcomes to each and every situation where a criminal will disregard a person’s right to be stupid and will violate them.  It’s like, for example, a young lady has a right to go to a fraternity party, dressed in what amounts to denim panties and a tube top, get drunk off her ass, and play strip poker while drinking out of strange cups.  She has a right to expect not to be raped, right?  But is that a smart thing to do?  Oh dear Goddess in heaven, if I suggest that it’s misguided for a young woman to do that, I’m slut shaming.  It’s respectability politics.  “How dare you!  Take two seats.  Shut the fuck up you ankh nigga bitch!” 

We as a society would make an artform of clowning, degrading, humiliating, and ridiculing anyone who could think that they had a right to leave their personal property readily available to criminals to steal but if I suggest that women should apply common sense measures to protect their bodies from being raped, I’m oppressing women’s rights.  Check it.  A gazelle has a right to wander freely throughout the savannah, enjoying the sun and the birds and all the pretty flowers.  That does not mean that a lion is not going to make dinner out of it, though. 

There is this pervasive, widespread, and delusional notion that women do not have to use common sense in order to protect themselves from being raped.  Is your need to get drunk and pass out so great that you cannot comprehend that you are putting yourself in harm’s way if you do it around men who will not respect your rights?  No one deserves to be raped.  Let me say that again.  NO ONE DESERVES TO BE RAPED.  But that is not to suggest that there aren’t some basic, common sense measures that young women can take to prevent being raped.  No one should be shamed for their sexuality.  But that’s not at all the same thing as suggesting that you should go out and play chicken at high speeds on a curvy road at midnight when you are under the influence of alcohol and that you can’t expect there to be fatal consequences either. 

We live in a society of rape culture.  Men see women as objects.  Men see women as things to be used, slapped, choked, beaten, ejaculated on, and thrown away like trash.  We don’t teach our boys to understand that no means no, we don’t teach them about consent.  Males are socialized to view sex as power and that taking it, stabbing it, killing it, and that every other violent metaphor for sex makes them “real men”.  So, the solution can’t be to tell women that they have a right to wear clothing that has no other objective than to arouse lust in men, and then feign outrage and disgust when a man wants to violate them.  You lock your car.  You lock your house.  You don’t give your laptop to the homeless person on the street to watch while you go to the bathroom.  But you’ll scream at the top of your lungs that you have a right to be naked and walk down the street and no one should say anything to you.  It’s deluded logic. 

I get that the right to party and get drunk is an inalienable right.  If men do it, women should be able to also.  I get that if you wear more than a bikini, you are going to suffer the consequences of spontaneous combustion and be consumed with flames because anything that covers more than you labia and areola is simply too uncomfortable to wear.  I get that you can’t possibly wear modest clothing because that is somehow infringing on your sexuality and you have a right to be sexual without being shamed.  I get it!  You have a right to cover your naked body in honey and chain yourself to a tree in the woods too, but you better expect to be eaten up by insects or worse. 

It’s tragic that we aren’t teaching our sons not to rape.  It’s reprehensible.  But it’s equally as tragic, no more or less so, that we aren’t teaching our daughters to pair up, protect one another, to have a safety net when they meet with a man for the first time, or the second or third time for that matter.  We should be teaching our girls that they shouldn’t be alone with a guy until they know him well enough to know that he is not going to violate them.  Of course, some men will earn a woman’s trust and violate her any way.  It’s going to happen for sure because we live in a society where sociopaths and sexual predators abound.  But let’s not give an engraved invitation for men to violate us and then call it empowering or our right either.  Young girls should be saying to men, “I have texted my whereabouts to my network of girlfriends.  They know where I am and who I’m with and you should know that I’m committed to protecting my safety at all costs.”  

Just as we should be teaching our boys from before the onset of puberty that they should not be violating girls, in school, at home, and in the media, we should be teaching young girls that if they are going to a party, that the D.C.B., the designated cock blocker has to stay sober, someone has to make sure that in a drunken state that the other girls won’t go off and make unsafe choices, or to call the police immediately if they see some creep trying to violate a woman, and they should have a rotation so that everyone has to be said cock blocker when it is their turn.   We need to start teaching our girls that they don’t have to be hot and sexy all the time, that they have more value than showing off every possible inch of skin, that conforming to sexist definitions of womanhood is NOT empowering.  In my dream world, we teach young women that their intellect, their integrity, and their activism are their most attractive traits and that they can be as sexual as they want to be with individuals who have EARNED the right to their intimacy and that their value is not in the size of their ass. 

Young girls are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that if they aren’t being sexy and attractive 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that they are somehow being confined in an oppressive prison that tells that they have to be asexual and virgin in order to have value as women.  I’m not saying that.  I’m saying that your sexuality shouldn’t be defined by how much skin you expose to men who aren’t going to value you as a person any god damn way.   

The women who have responded in outrage to this posting, the ones who are sending messages to their friends to read this and unfollow me, didn’t read past the word “raped.”  This youthful arrogance that has been promoted, this denial of logic, reason, and common sense, has been perpetuated for so long and is so wide spread that it passes as sanity.  But I’m telling you from what I know because I have been raped.  I’ve been raped more than once.  Once, by a friend in college.  Once, by an acquaintance because I rejected his romantic advances and he thought he would pay me back by raping me.  The first two instances were completely beyond my control.  I could have done nothing to stop them.  The third time, I  was raped by a young man who saw me as sexual prey and stalked me until he could get the opportunity to be alone with me.  I let him into my apartment.  I felt uncomfortable with him being there because I wasn’t attracted to him and I knew he had a crush on me.  I shouldn’t have let him in my home.  I should have trusted my gut that his intentions weren’t pure.  What I did or didn’t do does not mean that I deserved to be raped.  It means my judgement was off.  It means I didn’t value myself enough, that being polite to him should not have been as important as my personal safety.  I’m not saying that any of my rapes were more valid or that my victimization was better or worse than the young woman who gets drunk at a party.  I can’t say it enough, no person, woman or man, deserves to be raped.  I am suggesting that as long as we hold on to this delusional notion that young women can do and wear anything they want, and that they can willfully put themselves in harm’s way and that there aren’t “supposed” to be consequences because in Utopialand, women can do and wear what they want, we are teaching young women to play Russian roulette with their safety and possibly their lives. 

Copyright 2016 AfroerotiK All Rights Reserved