Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Editorial: Jump-Off or Sex-Positive?

Essence's treatment of sexuality in articles will always need work.  They are trying to appeal to all facets of their audience without interrogation or analysis. 

I don't know Jozen Cummings, but his former positions at Vibe and King (more specifically) reveals what he values in Black women.

Many are enraged  with the article because it presumes that the readers are implicity gender-identified as potential jump-offs or as Cummings defines,

"woman we sleep with until we’re tired of sleeping with them, or, God forbid, they’re tired of sleeping with us."

Another perspective is that it speaks to sex-positive women who are comfortable exchanging sex for sex.

I try to stay out of other women's beds (aside from my personal friends who let me in). But this campaign over the article reminds me that writing to and about Black women and sexuality will continue to be complicated.

Overall, I'm glad that this article has sparked conversations about who can speak for Black women's sexuality, gender roles, and overall positions in society.  [For further info check out Gail Wyatt's Stolen Women: Reclaiming Our Sexuality, Taking Back Our Lives]

It also may give the opportunity for one person to interrogate why s/he chooses to offer sex in exchange for sex.  Is it truly a sex-positive statement or fear?

Time Warner, owner of Essence is interested in selling products 
to their segment market, not the liberation of Black women. I recently subscribed to Essence after years without a subscription. I decided to unsubscribe again because I accepted that Time Warner and their product, Essence magazine, doesn't serve me or my growing interests. 

For an alternative to Essence try Mimi's Magazine. It's owned by an African woman who has started a loose collective of writers and photographers who offer content on similar categories of Essence.  It rarely promotes a product and all contributors are self-identified African women.

Anyone who knows of the  Riot GRRRL movement knows that women have been creating compelling content at an increasing rate. There are many Blackwomen getting into the party (albeit a bit late).  Let's seek and support women who are offering alternatives to commodifying Black women's experience.

Do you know of other Black women owned newsletters or zines? Drop a link in comments.

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