trigger-warning

by Cherie Ann Turpin Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

trigger-warning:  50 years of rape culture/slut-shaming/misogyny/misogynoir that cannot fit into a tweet for the Washington Post
I can tell you what happened to me at Clark College when my first sexual contact with a man was being raped twice by a Morehouse athlete who thought he was scoring a new girlfriend

I can tell you about being plied with alcohol, then raped and threatened by a male roommate–then slut-shamed for it

I can tell you about the time a man giving me a ride to MARTA in Atl forced a kiss on me

I can tell you about being slut-shamed by a female relative who told my family I was a whore

I can tell you about the time five men followed me in Atl from bus to MARTA to bus with clear intent to gang-rape me–I rode that bus to the end of line and my flashpass kept me on that bus and they ended up stranded when I rode back to my stop

I can tell you about being sexually harassed–twice–by adjunct professors when I was an undergrad at UDC

I can tell you about being catcalled by a bunch of “bros” driving past me as I walked to meet new classmates at a pub in Burlington VT

I can tell you about being stalked and slut-shamed by the same person in grad school

I can tell you about being followed home by a man in a van in the middle of winter on a back road when I was at UConn

I can tell you about having my nipple bitten without consent by a man at a club while dancing–he did permanent damage and he smiled before I hit him back

I can tell you about being approached and catcalled by a man while walking in my corporate suit to a campus interview for a professor position at UDC

I can tell you about being stalked by some unknown man during my first year as a professor who thought it was okay to send flowers to my office and my classroom

I can tell you about being followed and secretly photographed by a fellow grad student in Saas-Fee for the purpose of slut/size/race shaming me by sharing his “art” with the other grad students on a dvd

I can tell you about being followed by a lurking man when I walked home from campus–and waited for me to walk towards my apartment, till he saw me with security

I can tell you that despite the scars from these cuts and gouges

my self-worth
my sexuality
my humanity
my womanhood
my spirit
my jouissance
my grace

shines
persists
heals

Prevails.

October 10, 2016

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Save

Breadcrumb: “5 Brilliant Books on Black Women and Sexuality :: Books :: Lists :: Paste”

5 Brilliant Books on Black Women and Sexuality :: Books :: Lists :: Paste.

I’ll admit it:  I’m not familiar with one of these books: Recyclopedia: Trimmings, S-PeRM—K-T, and Muse & Drudge by Harryette Mullen. I have quite a collection of “brilliant books” written by Black women, and while most of them do not center just on sexualities, all of them touch on issues of the body and the sensual in one way or another.  So much of what has been and continues to be our experience in the West deals with the recovery of ourselves from so much pain, so much damage to our souls.

I’m ordering Recyclopediarose right after I finish posting this breadcrumb.  Guess I need to do my own list now, but do click and read the list.  Feel free to share your own list here!

 

The Deep End #14 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

The Deep End #14
by Cherie Ann Turpin
(30 Stories in 30 Days)
#30Days

pool
I occasionally did tarot readings for Tony and gave him advice on rituals, as he was a solitary practitioner, albeit on the sly because of his family, a large clan of Baptists and Pentacostalists with a smattering of Methodists.  His father was the head pastor of a Baptist church in Raleigh, North Carolina.  He was also nervous about his Christian fundamentalist boss finding out about his spiritual practices, for fear of losing or compromising his clearance as a defense contractor for NSA.  He came to me two years ago with a dilemma about a woman who seemed inaccessible, yet intriguing.

Tony met her at an Apple conference in San Francisco three years ago, a voluptuous woman with long, thick twists and rich, copper-brown skin who was almost as tall as him.   He imagined her full thighs matched against his slim frame as she walked towards him wearing a dark green dress and sensible heels.  When she smiled her face radiated warmth and a willingness to trust.  They exchanged phone numbers and email addresses over coffee and sandwiches before she departed to meet colleagues for a networking event.  After he returned to Baltimore, he only got as far as the one phone call to her that did not lead to a follow-up. She actually did call him back, but he was “unavailable,” or unwilling to return her phone calls. She did what most people would do–she moved on.

Meanwhile, he began seeing a woman from his office, almost as a consolation prize for what he described to me once as “another humiliating rejection from a sister.” The relationship with his second choice did not last, no surprise to me or anyone else who knew him. He saw the first woman again in Vegas at another conference, only to discover that she was involved with and engaged to an attorney.  Her smile, according to Tony, was just as warm, but less trusting of him.

He decided to try to get her interested in calling him again by using love magic. He spent hundreds of dollars on Come to Me incense, Love oils, red and pink candles, not to mention the readings he received from me. I started charging him a minimal fee because of the energy he was draining from me. No results.  He began to consult with a spirit worker less inclined to maintain ethical boundaries.

He appeared at my door one night, haggard and somewhat jittery.  I sat him down and listened to him confess to stalking her.  He began spying on her social media profiles and her email. She had been talking about him, wondering whatever happened to him, and the unreliability of men who couldn’t deal with women who actually say yes to them. Her fiance had mysteriously broken up with her and eloped with someone who seemed to appear almost out of the sky as “the love of his life.”

I looked at Tony, expecting him to say that he finally talked to her, that he had stopped using magic to make his decisions for him.  He stuttered as he explained his latest surveillance trick to discover more information before making the phone call to her.  In other words, he squandered yet another open door.  It was just as well.  This was a poorly gained opportunity that had all the signs of an impending disaster of his own making.  In his current state of mind, he could be downright dangerous to her.  Come to think of it, he could be dangerous to me.  I needed to find a way to amp him down from the ledge.  He was my spiritual child, and I sensed him looking for a way out of his self-made trap.

I wondered why it had not occurred to him that he was probably in danger of losing his clearance due to his gross misuse of surveillance tools, as well as being arrested for stalking.  After making him some green tea, I pulled out my Crowley deck and did a three card pull:  the ten of Wands, the Devil, and the Hanged Man.  My task was getting Tony to understand what just happened, and how he needed to fix what he damaged within himself through his obsession.

I looked into his dark eyes now glazed with tears. For the first time in months I saw genuine sorrow and guilt wrapped up in rage.  I heard myself say, “You’ve tortured yourself for over a year because of your own pride and your own fear of rejection. You didn’t need magic to fall in love, you never did. But this is not love.  Your fear made you turn your soul inside out just to control her.”

This was not quite me coming out my mouth.  Uh-oh.  She was nudging me to stand aside so She could come through and speak.  I felt the tipsy feeling flow through my mouth as Spirit began to speak through me.  My voice deepened and I saw myself rise up as Spirit rode me to speak to Tony.  He could not hear me tell him the complete truth of what he had done, and what he had to do to make it right.  He had to hear it from She:

Perhaps you could be a couple.  Perhaps not.  You cannot not make her do anything.  No candle or spell will make her love you.  You have to start over at the beginning from honesty and truth, or nothing at all.  

Starting over from scratch is not an easy choice to make.  He had to deal with the reality that she could say no, and he had to accept that risk as a part of accepting her as a free, sentient being with her own voice and desires.

Then I heard/felt She say to him in a loud booming voice:  You’ve got to learn how to swim in the deep part, at the deep end.  You’ve got to get your head wet, boy. 

I fell back on the couch, and I looked up at him.  His face was frozen in shock.  I slowly sat up and reached over to his lower jaw, and gently pushed his mouth shut.  This was his first time seeing Spirit ride me.  He silently pulled on his suit jacket and walked out the front door of my house.  I wrapped up my Tarot cards and watched him stumble on my driveway into his Mercedes SUV.

A natural fool coming to his senses almost too late.  Almost, but not quite.

He stopped talking to me for several months.  It was just as well.  It was not my business or task to intervene, at least not that point. Spirit warned me to avoid him for a time. Last I heard he’d started seeing a therapist for his obsessive personality issues, and was looking into making a career switch.  His manager discovered his off-the-clock surveillance activities, and would have fired him had his unit not been reorganized as a result of a seemingly unrelated upheaval in structure due to the Eric Snowden incident.  Tony escaped a disastrous descent into legal purgatory by virtue of a sudden shift in the dimension all of us happen to share.

If he wanted to be with her or anyone else, he would have to journey beyond the comforts of fear and obsession, beyond his narcissism, and beyond his own fear of the unknown.  That may take more than one plunge into the deep end.

The Extinction Level Event Has Not Happened Yet #12 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30Days

The Extinction Level Event Has Not Happened Yet #12

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days)

#30Days

I should have kissed him yesterday.
kiss
I think I still hold onto my mother’s advice to let men pursue me, rather than being more assertive in matters of the heart and body.  She thought it was too pushy and too forward to show too much interest or to reveal desire to men.

I think it’s a shitty way of dealing with men, especially the ones who go overboard to be gentlemen, but I ended up almost by default complying with her vision of proper female behavior, which, of course, resulted in long periods of sexual dry spells.  I burned out about four different vibrators during my long wait for the “right one.”  When the aliens came I was almost six years without a long-term partner or a casual lover.  I’m too old to keep waiting for him to make the first move, and since the aliens devastated our planet, I guess I should try to ignore the rules and show some moxie before we die from the coming second wave.

He was right there, standing next to me, talking with me. He really paid attention to what I had to say, and I didn’t mind us walking fifteen blocks to the nearest charging station to get our laptops and phones charged (yes, we still have WiFi and cell phones–we just don’t know how long they will last).  He looked into my eyes as he shared his stories of finding and losing love, how when he first moved here he couldn’t seem to find anyone who really understood him.  I felt my tummy quiver, slightly.

We talked about our families, who we resembled, why we both happened to be living in this part of the city.

We talked about the restaurants we grew to love as a part of city living, and how neither of us really liked to cook as a daily habit, and how our career schedules did not bide for long periods of cooking prep or clean-up.

We didn’t talk about the invasion, or the semi-permanent federal state of emergency, or the abductions by the alien hunting squads who snatched up unsuspecting humans for experiments and other purposes which usually resulted in bloody piles of limbs and entrails.

We didn’t talk about the fall-out shelters our military built to keep the remaining humans safe, or the fact that the empty streets we walked once packed with a sea of citizens in a city that boasted a population of well over 4 million people.

We didn’t talk about how we watched cities around the world crumble and burn, wondering when ours would be next.

We talked about finding love in the fury of apocalyptic ruination, and holding fast to what remained of human civilization.  We hugged, and walked back to our respective shelters just below the streets.

If we still exist tomorrow, I’ll kiss him before we go scavenge for food.

“Real Love” by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

“Real Love” rose

 

Maybe the imminent and overwhelming arrival of the lunar eclipse accorded some responsibility into Nina’s bitter mood. She knew how to explain herself, her position, her sense of self as a writer, when she spoke before her readers. Her audience usually sat mesmerized or at least soothed as when she “performed” as resident poet at The Atomic Cafe, a run-down coffee joint run almost entirely from donations from locals, students, and permanent exiles from the dullness of city life and suburbia. Burlington, Vermont was a haven for those young enough to transform isolation from New England cynicism into active and optimistic sociopolitical coalitions determined to see permanent social change; for those too embittered to still believe in or hope for much of anything, Burlington served as a sort of thin shield, like fish scales, from the hostilities to which no place in America could be immune.

 

Nina found that she could easily move through the pauses and silences that cut short her creative desires by cutting to the quick what most people found beneficial to their egos. Nina could not cut, however, through the thick partition that separated herself from her desires, the wall of silence that froze her tongue as if in fear when she touched her last lover, who broke off with her in apparent bewilderment at her seeming lack of interest in him, his attempts at conversation, and most disturbing, his sexual needs. Nina, as if intuitively, felt him withdraw from her presence, and silently wished him quickly gone, but not for the reasons he divined.

 

Nina was, in brief, a woman who yearned to touch and to be touched in ways that could not be easily explained in pop psychology terms, or for that manner, Freudian terms. She spent the better part of her twenties searching for some semblance of the surge that charged her nerves at the turn of a certain phrase, look, or push through the male bodies that crash-landed on her bed. As they departed bearing the same expression of sheepish satisfaction mixed with confusion, she would look on with a visible expression of impatience and a not so visible feeling of rage and bitterness at the presence of emptiness, at the dryness she felt in her mouth and between her legs.

 

With a notable exception, her sexual experiences in her thirties was a far less frenzied version of the previous decade, as she settled on a twenty-seven year old attorney who initially saw her as an exotic, if not tasty experiment with the racial and class other. He had not touched the otherness that surely separated them in ways that his cock could not and would not bridge. She correctly feared his disgust of her, his fear of what he labeled as “edgy,” an “edge” that would loom in ragged and crumbly pieces over a dark, heated pit.

 

And so they parted, with him feeling failed as a lover, as a man, and perhaps as a conqueror of the dark other, for so clearly failing to move her to either ecstasy or tears. Some men are like that, foolishly staking their egos, their perceptions of themselves as conquerors, ignoring the moments that could unveil a more delicious opportunity and savoring the more shallow moments, when the public eye is more apt to appear, where desire is less likely to expose itself to public derision. Nina had found many of these fools in all shades and colors, but the now familiar disappointment never ceased to bring the bile to the surface of her tongue.

 

So it was with this overwhelming desire, combined with an awareness of an ache that would not be staved off with the strongest vibrator, that she wrote her latest poem. When she stood amid the studded and pierced women and men she noticed on the left covered with photos of poets who, like her, began and ended their careers standing and reciting in front of audiences like this one. She also noticed a vaguely familiar face staring at her.

 

At this sight, she closed her eyes, and after a few uncomfortable moments of silence, began reciting from memory the first stanza from her latest poem, a series of images written about a man she’d often imagined to exist in the real. When Nina’s mind began to generate the sexual fury she needed to recite her poem, she began to forget that her body was actually standing in a grimy, worn storefront that was already filled with other writers eager to draw from the sexual energy emanating from her frame. Her low, gravely voice trembled as she, eyes closed, softly swaying, spoke to complete strangers of her fantasy tryst with the man who would remain nameless, of the desire she could only refer to in Spanish when she titled it “Quiero”:

 

 

circling the cup

pressing inside soft walls

like fresh clay on a wheel

lifting layers to the top

spinning

muscle squeezing

gripping dense pottery

hardening in the cold air

an interminable movement

wrapped

in fleshy ribbons of moans

like a jack-in-a-box exploding

staining

hot grainy oily cement

in harvest heat.”

 

When Nina opened her eyes the first thing she saw was a man in the back of the room with a curious but intent stare. Then, as the audience began to field her with questions and suggestions, she lost focus on the man and continued her discussion. Later, during the communal vegetarian dinner feast, Nina saw him again, grazing on a steaming pile of black beans over brown rice. She waited until he swallowed whatever he was chewing, then sauntered over to a stool across from his chair near one of the gray, frosted panes of the storefront. The combined effects of the dimmed lights and the dark shadows cast by the rich, black panels and jagged masonry covering the walls, floor, and ceiling left an impression on Nina that she was walking through a cave.

 

In fact, Nina was so occupied with this appearance of what seemed to be physical manifestation of what she assumed to exist only in the shadowy corners of the dream world that she did not pay attention to the subtle signs of changes to the immediate environment as she sat down. Her heart stopped for five full seconds as she discovered she was no longer sitting in Atomic Cafe. She was home, and sitting on her couch. Freezing momentarily, she let out a brief shout of fright, as she believed, momentarily, that she had passed out and was dreaming yet again. It sounded less like a scream, and more like a loud “huh-a” ending with deflating tone at the tail end of her breath. Nina stumbled to her feet and looked outside through the living room window. The clear night illuminated the white snow on the front porch and the low steps of the ancient yellow house on Chittenden Street. He hovered over her, silently, watching her as she blinked in the shadowy room lit only by the street light and moonlight outside. Regaining her composure, she remembered that she had a guest in her home. She was still deep in thought as she stepped into the foray and flipped the light switch.

 

Drawing in the waves emanating from the light, he shimmered and swirled like a light mist before finally manifesting before her with what seemed to be a wry smile.

 

“Do you usually unveil yourself so completely in your work?” he asked in a low but clear volume, his rich, melodic voice carefully articulating each word as if he were speaking into a tape recorder.

 

“I could ask the same of you,” whispered Nina, as she looked around the room that seemed to lose its hold on her as the waking world of the real. “I no longer know which world is flesh, and which world is dream? What have you done with reality?”