Why My Sex Positivity is Not without Fear, Shame, or Trauma.

Sex positivity, like social justice, like self-care, is becoming a catch phrase that is being used sometimes loosely and without a multifaceted understanding of the phrase’s function. Frequently, sex-positivity is often used to categorize or define free spirited, and fun sexual behavior. I myself have used this word to describe my message around masturbation and its benefits to Black Womxn or to provide context to my nude art.

While I think this understanding of sex-positivity should be a part of its definition, I do not think it should be the sole way that we interact with “sex-positivity”. I have been recently reminded or challenged rather to reconsider the meaning and function of sex positivity. My homegirl recently sent me a picture that Traci Ellis Ross posted on her Instagram that defined sex positivity beyond the meaning of someone who beautifully owns their sexuality. I was challenged to think about if one doesn’t “beautifully” own their sexuality does this make them sex-negative? Or more relational to me, does one whom owns their sexuality “beautifully”, somehow without the residue of sex-negativity or sexual shame? I can tell you for certain the answer is no!

Why my sex positivity is not without fear, shame or trauma

Since doing this work, I have been confronted with people’s judgements, praise, and confusion of why I do what I do, and their projected definitions on to me. Given this, I have come to realize how uncomfortable I have become with the sometimes valid misconceptions that are fixed upon my body, my message, and my business. Because I am pro-Black nudity, pro-Black sex, pro-Black femininity, pro-Black masturbation and etc., folks validly assume that I am a sexual goddess freak bitch whom is able to make balls disappear in my throat. They assume that I am a pro at pleasing someone sexually, that I am a confident sistah who knows how to spin around on the D and keep it inside, as Trina said on her hit single “Look back at it”.

Sex positive Art by Favianna Rodriquez

Favianna.com

They look at me as if I am sexually perfect and without insecurity, shame and trauma. Some of this is my fault, as I have internalized some shit over the years and thus showcased these internalizations, but some of this is assumptions, and perceptions being placed on me. This is my critique of the word positive in general is that it negates the presence or possibility of negativity, and the energy that exist between positivity and negativity. I blame Eurocentric and/or westernized culture for it conditioning us to only honor binaries. We have a tendency to operate within defining things as one or the other, and if something is good then it is solely positive, and if something is bad then it is solely negative.

I want to push us though to think beyond the “either or” and understand that positivity and negativity like water is fluid, and the presence of one doesn’t mean the non-presence of the other. To be clearer, I am saying, negativity and positivity can exist simultaneously; perhaps there will be a conflict or struggle between the two, but they can absolutely be present in the same person, place or thing and at the same time. If this stands true then this must be applicable to the way we understand and interact with sex-positivity.

Let us consider in the first place why sex-positivity is even a thing. Sex-positivity is a movement to reclaim sexuality as something that is “normal”, “beautiful”, consensual, and to remove it out of the privilege rigged, taboo, and shameful paradigms that often it exist in. In addition to that, this movement is about or should be about providing and protecting womxn’s rightful option to be sexual or not. Black Womxn have added an intersectional approach to this movement and we have been taking steps to analyze, reclaim and redefine our sexual politics. Thus, sex-positivity, I would argue, is born out of a culture that has perverted, shamed, racialized and taboolized and violated folks through the vehicle of sex and sexuality. By virtue of this reality we cannot negate that those whom are sex-positive are fighting through shame, and trauma. I am still very much sexually insecure, and battle with body-positivity, insecurities of not fulfilling or meeting someone’s sexual expectations.

I have trauma, violent, and unhealthy sexual experiences that I have only addressed in my head or said out loud to a few people. Like many Black Womxn whom identify as sex-positive, I am fighting through barriers and ideologies that have been created to limit or control my sexual expressions. I am fighting through my secrets, and the shame that is birthed from them. Perhaps this is why I am sex positive because I found a space where I can exist without being totally spiritually assassinated by my shame and trauma. My hope is that when people engage with my work, my being, my body, and my business is that none of these become the standard or romanticized. I am just as much a sexual mess as I am a sexual goddess, I am unpacking, healing, learning and decolonizing and thus my sex-positivity is not without fear, shame or trauma.

Myisha M Soule

Myisha M Soule activist and blogger at soulzandgsotz.com

Yes, Black Womxn Masturbate Too!

About the Author

My name is Myisha, my name means womxn and giver of life, and I am from Oakland California! I grew up in a house with my mother, my grandmother, my aunte, and a cousin that I am four days apart from. I have always been a person who has been deeply chaotic but immensely brilliant! I am trying to walk in my truth, and trying to find the space to uphold balance between my chaos and brilliance. I recently started my business, soulzandgspotz.com which focuses on empowering Black Womxn through masturbation.  I have two degrees that hold little value in comparison to the experiences gained from obtaining them, but if you care to know what they are, I have a B.A in Communication with a minor in Ethnic Studies, and a Master’s in Education with an emphasis in leadership.  All in all, I am trying to find myself, fulfill the ancestor’s purpose for me, conquer my demons, help my people, have a baby, and a fine man, and live life as whole, truthful, and unapologetic as possible.

Want to share your journey here on PrettyPinkLotusBud.org? Contact us or email us at hellolovely@prettypinklotusbud.org


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To Love Someone with HIV

I wonder why you clicked this link. Is it because you truly want to know what it’s like to love someone with HIV? Is it because you want to know if my feelings of loving someone with HIV are the same as yours? Or maybe it is because you couldn’t pass up an opportunity to stigmatize and judge yet another person with HIV?

HIV is an illusion to many of us who are not directly affected by it. It isn’t real to us: some distant celebrity or unknown persons with a substance addiction, some local fear tactic. It just doesn’t exist to us; it’s not our concern. Not knowing quite how to care.

To love someone with HIV was the most painful experience in my life. You’d think I was the one who had been diagnosed.

But why, why was it such a painful experience? There have been so many medical advances when it comes to HIV and AIDS that such a diagnoses is no longer the death sentence it was once thought to be. Today, persons diagnosed with the virus can look forward to living long and prosperous lives. Am I right?

You couldn’t be more wrong. From a perspective of physical health, that is true, because of medical advances, some persons diagnosed with HIV can live healthy lives. We’ve even made advanced steps towards prevention with PrEP (coming soon in generic form). For others, this is not so. From a social perspective, an HIV diagnoses can absolutely become a death sentence; one of shame, of guilt, and of discrimination. The stigma of HIV is now more dangerous than the actual virus itself. Not just to physical health, but psychological well being most of all.

Eradicate the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV @PrettyPinkLotusBud

Robbery by Shame

I never realized shame could actually rob a person of their will to live. But I witnessed it with my own eyes, with my own beingness as shame and guilt sucked the life right out of my mother. To know that someone you love is suffering, dying a slow and excruciating death to shame, guilt, and heavy stigmas surrounding the diagnosis of HIV is excruciating to watch.

Shame is the plague to our journey of self-realization.

My mother was HIV positive. I remember when she sat down to tell me. She spoke with such somber disappointment; an air of defeat all around her. I responded with shock which wasn’t the best response, but it’s the one that occurs when something you never thought could happen happens to you.

It was exactly this moment that HIV became real to me. It didn’t take me long to process it. Despite my initial shock, there was nothing to process. She was my mother, I loved her just the same. Her diagnoses did not matter to me and soon it left my mind altogether, but it never left hers. How could it with the stigma of HIV lingering stagnant all around us despite medical advances?

Suicide by Diagnosis

During the time after my mother had been diagnosed, she had also been diagnosed with cervical cancer. I lived a distance away so I didn’t see my mom that often. When I did see her I was constantly reminded of her diagnoses as I watched her withdraw from the world, withdraw from family, from us, her children, from her grandchild, my daughter whom I knew was her most favorite something in this life…my best gift I could have given her. The stigma of HIV had my mother by the balls if there were such a thing for her. She was cornered in a depressing and lonely place.

The hugs and kisses became fewer and the distance greater. It was like she was punishing herself, so careful not to pass her virus to others. Prior to her diagnoses, I used to say to her, “Ma, you can’t contract HIV that way.” Then she’d tell me, “That’s what they tell you now, years later they’ll be saying something different.” As a nurse, she had a lot of inside information on the “unknowns” of HIV. Just a random tidbit.

She’d tell me about her experiences and encounters with people who were aware of her diagnoses. Sometimes she’d become so hurt by the judgement, she’d erupt in anger and other times she’d laugh hysterically about the facial expressions and reactions of others. Mostly she just stayed tucked away from everything and everyone.

Eradicate the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV @PrettyPinkLotusBud

Your love is my love; Your pain is my pain.

I hurt. I hurt because she hurt because even as her daughter, not judging her and loving her just the same was not enough to overcome the social stigma of HIV. No matter what I said, no matter what I did none of it helped…none of it convinced her to fight. She tried to fake it, but like me, my mother was never good at that thing…faking. She was pretending for us which also caused me terrible pain.

There is no shame in desiring death. Death is peace.

I cried often. I prayed for God to help her see how loved she was. But all she could hear were voices of judgment crowding her in shadows of shame. I know because that’s all I could hear from her.

It hurt so much to witness my mother in such a weakened state after seeing her be so strong for so long. So much that at times I could not stand to be around her very long without bursting into tears. I tried and often times she’d console me and apologize constantly for her sadness, for her desire for death. She didn’t need to apologize, I understood much more than I ever wanted to.

Stamp out Stigma and Discrimination

My beloved mother ascended into greatness on what was Wednesday, June 27th 2012 which also happens to be National HIV Testing day first observed on June 27th 1995. Not very many family or friends knew that my mother was HIV positive and still don’t however, I doubt I have to tell you why. Even in her ascension it is still only whispered about among those of us who do know. For awhile, I was the only one she told.

I wrestled a lot with myself about whether I should write and publish this post because of the same reasons…stigmas that caused my mother to withdraw from life. But I’ve found that the more I talk about it, the more open I am about it, the less need I have to hide it, and the less shame I feel about it.

Eradicating the stigma of HIV will not be easy but it is absolutely necessary.

To learn more about the stigma of HIV visit HIV Stigma and Discrimination and Stigma and Discrimination against Women Living with HIV.

You should also check out Angry Black Hoemo’s HIV Stigma: A(nother) Tool of Homophobia & Direct Enemy of Prevention where he gives his blunt and honest perspective on the stigmas of HIV.

Free testing is available in many places on June 27th. To find out more about HIV and how you can get free testing on testing day visit National HIV Testing Day on Chronicsex.org.

Eradicate the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV @PrettyPinkLotusBud

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Is someone you love living with HIV? How does/did it affect you?

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