I need people to understand how utterly fucking disgusting, how useless, how repulsive they are to me when they suggest that my entire body of work on a plethora of topics is now no longer valuable, readable, good, or important because I don’t hate Beyoncé and they do. Several people have suggested this to me after my essay: Beyoncé’s New Self-Titled Album Is A Manifesto of Black Womanhood and Freedom.
"I thought you were ‘better’ than this." They say this. I laugh.
Better than what, you ashy, purposeless, ignorant, misogynoiristic, respectability politics-loving bot? Oh, you thought that you were going to divide Black women into two groups—those you think follow the shifting rules as set by White supremacy and perform for the White Gaze (“respectable”) and the ones that do not (“not respectable”)? And you thought I was going to be “respectable” and hate Beyoncé or any other Black woman you deem “not respectable?”
Asshats, do you read my blog? You’ve claimed to love it so much before the aforementioned essay was published, but if you read my blog, you would have noticed that: 1) Beyoncé is blogged here regularly and was before her new album. I did not start liking her on Friday. 2) I regularly deconstruct and rebuke misogynoir (term coined by Moya Bailey). I have a huge body of work on this; maybe the largest on the internet. 3) I read the politics of respectability for FILTH. 4) I like many Black women who are artists, thinkers, creators; womanists/Black feminists who claim the label/politics/praxis and ones who do not. I mean, didn’t I go blog wild over Janelle just a few months ago upon her album release? Hello. 5) I have never said that anyone who doesn’t like a person/place/thing is automatically a hater, though of course haters also exist. I actually discuss this with great nuance and have essays on this.
Now anyone who did not notice this and claims to have read my blog has not read a thing. What they did was adopt the White Gaze, wrap it around their view and then looked at me. But they never saw me.
They repel me. Go…away. I seriously say "you…repel…me" in Sherlock’s voice when I read those ignorant comments.
Let me review this one more time. My writing on intersectionality, womanism, feminism, street harassment, rape, domestic violence, Whiteness, White supremacy, racism, sexism, misogynoir, homophobia, transphobia, transmisogyny, heterosexism, cissexism, ableism, fatphobia, classism, poverty, capitalism, patriarchy, patriarchal masculinity, colonialism, imperialism, international politics, asexuality, sexuality, White privilege, male privilege, heterosexual privilege, heteronormative coupling bias, cis privilege, beauty privilege and beauty politics, thin privilege, able-bodied privilege, Western privilege, class privilege, light skinned privilege, colourism, education, corporate culture, friendship, dating, marriage, womanist icons, music, television, film, media, visual art, positive Black images and even more than I’ve named here is now “invalid” because I’m a Beyoncé fan? Really. For me, being a fan of someone has never meant that the person gets a gold pass and cannot be critiqued as I’ve done that too with many people in the public eye and people not in the public eye. Further, I don’t have to personally like a particular Black woman to reject the misogynoir that she faces; it’s what I face also.
Their hatred of Bey is never solely about her. If so, how can me liking her invalidate my work? Work they plagiarized and consumed like a goddamn meal and content trolled and masturbated over until early Saturday morning when that essay was published.
Whatever. They can gargle rocks. They were never here for me or Black women at all if this is something that they think is an acceptable response to me. (And lemme be clear, It is Whites and people of colour doing this. White supremacy doesn’t only shape Whites’ thinking.)
Everyone who dislikes Beyoncé is not a hater. But there are haters. And they repel me. They sicken me. They showed me their true colours if they have the audacity to dismiss my entire being and work because their music choice differs from mine on one artist and their narrow politics seeks to exclude her so desperately that they cannot even think straight. That’s how I know it’s not about the music at all.
They were NEVER here for me.
The conversation surrounding Black women and sexuality is always coloured by the historical context in which Black women’s bodies were used against their will; a direct result of their perceived lack of humanity due to their blackness. Because of these ideas, we’re stuck with the Jezebel stereotype of inherent and uncontrollable Black female sexuality. With this song, Beyoncé has done two things: reclaim her sexuality on her own terms and directly negate the misconception that feminism and sex are incompatible.
By embracing her sexuality; explicitly detailing her kinks and fantasies, she demonstrates that there is nothing uncontrollable about it. Her sexuality is deliberate and fully within her command, and she has every intent to use it as she sees fit; in this case, to pleasure her man (and by extension, herself).
As a Black woman myself, this message is powerful to me. This is Beyoncé explicitly saying that there is nothing wrong with exploring your sexuality or your pleasure as a Black woman. There’s nothing shameful about it, and we should refused to be ashamed of it. I have had people tell me directly that to consciously embrace my sexuality as a Black woman is to reinforce the stereotype of hypersexuality. Which…is unfortunately exactly what less savvy minds will take away from this incredibly powerful political statement. Sex and feminism are not on opposite ends of a spectrum. They are related concepts that inform and influence each other in a myriad of ways.
Quote is from her great essay Est-ce Que Tu Aimes Le Sexe?: Yoncé Brings Feminism To Its Knees. This quote speaks about the powerful sex positive message in Beyoncé’s song “Partition” and like…sex positivity for real, not just White supremacy and anti-intersectionality in a teddy. Yeah, the double entendre in the post title works. Between “Blow” and “Partition” on the album, I am pretty sure that Beyoncé has mastered songs on oral sex and not in a trivial way meant to evoke domination or shame; in an unapologetic, no shame, adult, consensual, deliberate way. There is literally no room for shame in how she articulates sexuality in this album, though the whole album isn’t solely about the nuances of sexuality; many other themes are presented as well.
The best part of this quote above? "Her sexuality is deliberate and fully within her command." This…is agency. Comfort in whatever sexual orientation you are and in whatever sexual practices you do or don’t choose to do. Deliberate is agency. Deliberate is freedom.
Read her whole essay!
'Q.U.E.E.N.’ definitely is an acronym,' Monae explains during an interview at Fuse HQ. 'It’s for those who are marginalized.' She says the 'Q' represents the queer community, the 'U' for the untouchables, the 'E' for emigrants, the second 'E' for the excommunicated and the “N” for those labeled as negroid.
'It’s for everyone who’s felt ostracized,' she adds. 'I wanted to create something for people who feel like they want to give up because they’re not accepted by society.'
Jeff Benjamin, on Janelle Monae
Quote is from the post: Janelle Monae Says “Q.U.E.E.N.” Is For The “Ostracized & Marginalized” on Fuse TV. I cannot express enough how much I adore this song and her!
Words that are NOT asexuality:
Virginity, purity culture, abstinence, celibacy, fear of sex, sexual repulsion, sexual dysfunction/medical issues regarding sexual performance, anti-sex, single. Do NOT use these words interchangeably with “asexuality.”
Virginity is mostly a heterosexist, phallocentric, shame-oriented construction meant to police the sexual choices of women (though not only women; some people are genderfluid or intersex and still face the same thing) via patriarchy, sexsim, misogyny, misogynoir, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism and more, and at times is used to question the masculinity (when masculinity is patriarchal) of men for being “less of a man” for not having sexual intercourse by a certain age. Any person of any sexual orientation can ascribe to this thought/behavior, though it tends to be heterosexist and cissexist when spoken of and usually relies on binary notions of gender and patriarchal binaries. (May also be connected to some theisms.)
Purity culture takes virginity a step further by then equating the actual value of a person to their sexual choices. It’s often heterosexist as well, focusing on a woman “preserving” her body and sexual experiences for a husband who depending on where the purity culture is proliferated, might not have to reciprocate the same “preservation” because of patriarchy and sexism as well as patriarchal notions of masculinity where men “have to” have sex while women “wait.” Any person of any sexual orientation can ascribe to this thought/behavior, though it tends to be heterosexist and cissexist when spoken of. (May also be connected to some theisms.)
Abstinence is usually associated with youth and refers to delaying sexual experiences until a relationship is legally recognized by the State as having value, i.e. via marriage, or when a “respectable” relationship can occur. Sometimes it only refers to waiting until college/adulthood before having sex depending on the social class/cultural norms of the particular person in question. Any person of any sexual orientation can ascribe to this thought/behavior. (May also be connected to some theisms.)
Celibacy is usually associated with adulthood and refers to an extended period of time where a person does not engage in sexual intercourse after having sexual intercourse sometime in their life before. The reasons may be personal (whether good [i.e. disinterest] or bad [i.e. shame]), medical, theistic, or simply “just is” and is not an over the top effort to “avoid” sexual intercourse, but simply a choice.
Fear of sex can be a reaction to trauma, result from strong disinterest, relate to a particular theism or be the response of shame. Anyone can be legitimately afraid of sexual intercourse. While marketed as the ultimate pleasure, for some people sex is painful, traumatic, not of interest and/or creates anxiety. (Not speaking of rape here. Rape is NOT sex.)
Sexual repulsion is what it is stated as—repulsed by sexual intercourse to the point it evokes a feeling of sickness or extreme dislike. This feeling is not specific to any particular sexual orientation. Dysfunction/medical issues refer to specific medical conditions (i.e. hormonal, biological, response to injury/trauma) that impact libido, arousal and performance. This can occur with anyone and is not particular to any sexual orientation.
Anti-sex speaks to people who are either opposed to sexual intercourse across the board or are opposed to very specific forms of sexual intercourse (i.e. a cissexist homophobic anti-sex person opposes sex unless between a cishet man and a cishet woman), or opposed, but in a political sense (i.e. some anti-sex people want White supremacy, heterosexuality, and cis/able-bodied privilege decentralized from “sex positivity” ideology).
Single is obvious; simply a person of any sexual orientation that is not involved in a sexual and/or romantic relationship. This word still tends to favor people who aren’t asexual. While people of any sexual orientation who are single can face endless insults and even inequality and discrimination, being asexual and single is written off as pathology quite often.
Asexuality is a sexual orientation. People who rarely or do not at all experience sexual attraction (though they may experience other forms of attraction; i.e. sensual, romantic, aesthetic) are asexual. It is about attraction, not their behavior the night before. It is not solely any of the things listed above though some of them can impact asexual people just as they can impact heterosexual and queer people.
Not all asexual people are people who have not had sexual intercourse before (“virgins”) or are prolonging their first sexual experience (abstinence). Not experiencing sexual intercourse is not what makes someone asexual or every teen who has not had sex yet would be asexual, which of course is ridiculous. Not all asexual people participate in purity culture. Many find it repulsive, restricting and heterosexist/sexist/dogmatic. Others may find it to be a good thing but still are not asexual solely because they think physical intimacy should not occur without a marriage license or adulthood. Celibacy does not even apply to some asexual people. Some do not engage in sexual activity whatsoever, so they are not on a prolonged “break” from sexual intimacy or intercourse. Celibacy does apply to some asexual people who were celibate before coming to terms with their sexual orientation as not heterosexual or queer etc. and can apply to some asexuals (i.e. gray, demisexual) who while rarely experiencing sexual attraction still may have sex and are thereby able to be on a “break” from sexual activity.
Some asexual people may fear sex but that is not what makes them asexual. The fear of sex is a separate issue that heterosexual and queer people can also experience. Some asexual people can experience medical issues that impact sexual performance but said medical issue does not determine their actual sexual orientation. If so, then cishet men with erectile dysfunction would automatically be asexual. Obviously, they aren’t. Some asexual people may be anti-sex but so are some heterosexual and queer people. Some may be anti-sex because of bigotry or conversely as a political statement specific to critiquing the narrow ways that “sex positivity" is proliferated. Even so, this is bigotry or sociopolitical resistance, respectively, not sexual orientation.
It should be more than obvious that being “single” has NOTHING to do with sexual orientation yet this word gets used interchangeably with “asexual” (as is “gay;” for Black women, not chasing cishet Black men often means being called a “lesbian” where the word is meant to be a slur via homophobia; feminists/womanists are regularly called “asexual” or “lesbian” where both are used as slurs) by people who don’t know the difference or by people who are willfully ignorant and mean to demean asexual people or shame single people.
Pretending like all of the mentioned words are the same as “asexuality” occurs because people do not have the correct information on asexuality or because they are being willfully ignorant and are trying to marginalize the experiences of asexual people by associating us with labels often used to marginalize those who aren’t performing sexuality in a way that is supported by the status quo or is supported but only via binaries ultimately meant to oppress. Because of the history of racism, sexism, misogyny and anti-Blackness as the root of White supremacy that creates misogynoir, there is no sexual orientation that Black women can have without facing oppression. Controlling images that make heterosexual Black women “Jezebels” and asexual Black women “mammies” while oppressing queer Black women for being neither one are evidence of misogynoir. Though the oppression is not uniform, as heterosexual Black women have heterosexual privilege, even heterosexuality for Black women is treated as deviant and as a divergence from “pure” White heterosexuality, let alone the immense oppression that Black women who aren’t heterosexual face, especially when they aren’t cis or binary gender either.
No examination of sexual orientation will ever be thorough if viewed through Whiteness or heterosexuality alone. Asexuality is its own sexual orientation and should be treated as such, not as an “alternate” word for the ones mentioned above, not as pathology and not as representative of people to control, pity or shame.