I just wanted to take a mo and let y’all know about a new book, Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power & a World Without Rape. Disclosure being that I have an chapter in it called “Queering Black Female Heterosexuality.” And while that’s exciting for me, I’m psyched the opportunity it offers to talk positively about sex and to add some specifics to vague notions of “empowerment.”
I’d noticed, in the last few years, my own weariness with always looking for/finding the negative in politics, pop culture—hell, in everything. A great deal of my work focuses on stereotypes of African American women’s sexuality and I, admittedly, detected a myopic view that was leading to apathy on my part. “Nothing ever changes, blah blah blah.”
Trying to get my attitude in check, I wanted to take notice of black women who I thought were saying really interesting things about sexuality despite continued tensions and controversies. So, while we grappled with the race, class, and sexuality issues that the ugliness the Duke assault raised, I also decided to look closely at how women such as performance poet Sarah Jones and fine artists Renee Cox and Kara Walker pushed historical boundaries around black women and sex. One result was the essay in Yes Means Yes in which I propose that straight women would do well to take a cue from queer theory and figure out how black women, who are always already defined as Other, can define our own sexuality without fear of falling into traps of the jezebel, the Sapphire, or the Mammy. In short, what have we got to lose?
The anthology is just out from Seal Press and attempts to reclaim the terrain of the discussion around rape by tackling consent, media, sexual taboos, race relations, and a host of other topics. There will be book events happening across the U.S. in the next few months. Contributors are also blogging at Yes Means Yes.