trigger-warning

by Cherie Ann Turpin Creative Commons License
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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

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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.

“Ring: Part One” #3 by Cherie Ann Turpin (30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

“Ring: Part One” #3

by Cherie Ann Turpin

(30 Stories in 30 Days) #30days

ring
I picked through my closet when until I selected a red blouse with a deep plunge framed with ruffles.  I placed it on the chair over the floor length black skirt and slipped into the bathroom to shower and shampoo.  I thought about the ring, and about him.  He would be at the party already, so I needed to hurry up and be ready to leave soon.

While he was on business travel he went shopping for my ring and I told him I didn’t want African diamonds or precious jewels because it was exploitative of the workers–I explained I wasn’t trying to reject my mother’s ring set choice, but I wanted a different thing. It felt strange to have it on my finger every single day, but I started wearing it to accept I was now married. He promised to have the bottom half for me if I asked for it and I was considering it. It fell off in my bed, but I woke up and put it back on, thinking I need to get it resized. He was surprised and pleased I was wearing it. Two of my friends looked at the ring.   Both looked puzzled, so I explained why my ring did not look like the usual wedding ring, that I did not want a diamond because of the history of them. The ring was a mysterious metal resembling white gold with a white quartz-like jewel.

When I arrived at the party everyone was dressed in 18th century clothing, somewhat decadent, some wearing jeweled masks.   I wore black lace opera gloves, a gift from  a woman who claimed them to be a charm of sorts.  My ring began to warm and tingle, oddly, but I ignored it as I made my rounds greeting other party guests. He was standing near one of the tall windows at the far end of the room with two other men, talking and smiling, but clearly looking for me.  He gestured for me to come and introduce myself.

As I walked through the crowded room I noticed for the first time that other women in the room were wearing the same ring with the odd Quartz-like crystal.  My left hand began to tingle as I realized this was no ordinary crowd.  My husband smiled as he pulled me close to him and introduced me to his people, the Agaven refugees of Defoli Y’shol.