My healthiest romantic relationships as an adult have been with three different people, one of them being a woman, none of them producing children or involving legal marriage, all three of them not being monogamous (I am good with monog or poly), and one of them being live in with a woman).
Commonality when it came to sex?
None of them forced sex on me, and that includes oral sex. I do not engage in receiving oral sex as a practice, and if I do oral sex, it tends to be with men. Rape does some really fucked up things to a mind, but so does physical and emotional abuse, and that happened at school and at home. Black folk love to talk about strict households building up moral character in their children, but it also sets them up to be preyed upon by scavengers looking for tenderized flesh accustomed to casual cruelty and exploitation.
The man who raped me shortly after I turned 18 at Clark College forced oral sex on me before forcing his penis in me–twice. I was a virgin, but it does not matter–even if I’d fucked a football team before that asshole did what he did, he was wrong. By the time I was 18 the damage to my mental health was set in–and sexual predators look at emotionally and physically abused people as perfect victims who are the most likely to not report, which is exactly why I did not report what was done to me after it happened.
I do not see all men as rapists, and I do not see all women as incapable of rape. I do not see myself as a victim–I am a survivor. Part of healing what’s wrong with my brain is getting to those pieces of my life that keep playing like old records in my head and affecting my decision-making and physical health, including my blood pressure and stress levels.
I’ve tolerated my own decision to maintain a celibate, lonely life for about 14 years, save for two encounters with two different male friends 9 years ago. I have no regrets about not marrying because I do not believe that the options that were presented to me were healthy–and I refuse to conform to social pressure.
Non-conformity to monogamous heteronormative coupling and being out as bi, poly-monog, leather, has been freeing and healing in so many ways, as being pro-consent. That last word consent is the most important piece.
Because it has been my experience that many if not most hetero men do not know the meaning of consent.
A poem is coming.
But first, a revelation as I heal and recover more personal power…
Most of my adult life I allowed people to tell me what my boundaries, needs, and spaces are or should be, what or who I should allow close to me, how I should react–mostly at my expense, emotionally and otherwise.
Black women are pressured into participating in our own gaslighting for the good of the collective, and those of us who question this way of thinking are perceived as troublesome or at the least hostile. When silence prevails, boundaries, needs, and spaces are not respected or met.
I wanted to break that cycle. It is one of the biggest reasons why I am, once again, back into therapy.
I am speaking of when communication is not happening, when consent and respecting boundaries, needs, and spaces are not being discussed or negotiated with regard to gaining and developing emotional access and intimacy.
As Black women we have the right to negotiate our own boundaries, as well as our own needs and spaces despite living in an environment that privileges men, particularly men with race and social class privilege.
Further, consent is not just about sexual contact. In fact, it has less to do with sex, and more to do with one person treating another person as being more than something to consume and discard.
Consent means mutually respecting boundaries, needs, and spaces when it comes to gaining and developing emotional access and intimacy. It is also about people speaking up and speaking in a manner that is honest and free of passive-aggressive diction.
Finally, it is also about respecting each other’s humanity through communicating.
In short, do not assume I have or have not given consent.
Ask me. Discuss it. Negotiate consent as a reasonable person.
Ask questions and engage in discussion. Challenge assumptions, and engage in discussions about mutual and different boundaries, needs, and spaces.
I refuse to play into others’ assumptions about me or other human beings, so please provide that same opportunity to me and others.
Communication is key in building respect and trust, and so is practicing consent.
I cannot call you trustworthy or one who respects my worth as a human being without the mutual praxis of consent and communication because without that structure there is confusion and more often than not emotional and spiritual injury. It cannot be forced or shaped out of obligation or tradition or expectation, and it certainly cannot be bought.