dulled my senses & blurried my sight.

& i used to love HIM . . . meaning god. as a man. because i was raised christian, and therefore any idea of a woman in the bible (from what i was taught in 2 years of christian day school) was never really positive. the first woman mentioned in the bible is eve. and eve instituted the downfall of mankind by eating the apple, etc. i was never taught, in my schooling (or my home discussions, or in church) about positive women in the bible, aside from the virgin mary — who was really just a vehicle for the christ. she was insignificant. she did not matter. and, it was implicit that she did not matter. i’m sure that in some situations, it was plainly stated that since she didn’t ‘save anyone’ that she wasn’t of any import. and mary magdalene was a whore — she couldn’t have possibly been an actual apostle or jesus’ wife. and so on, and so on.

so, being the me i was at 14-18, i had to think twice about all of that. every time i went to church and was told that i should feel the presence of god the father, i would feel numb. i would feel like i wasn’t getting everything i should have from that spirit. if it makes any sense at all to anyone besides me: i felt like i was getting an abridged version of god. like there was more to the whole experience, something people weren’t talking about or even thinking of in their own ruminations on the creator.

so, i strayed from that path i’d been told to follow. i went to a quaker school, participated in a guided meditation group (complete w/ chakra cleansing!) led by a former nun who worked as a teacher at my school, and read about religions that were not anything like christianity. i wasn’t particularly moved, but definitely intrigued. and i noted that i only felt connected to any higher power when singing or surrounded by music — secular or religious. i was concerned. because of the teachings i’d had as a little kid, i thought something was wrong with me. that something was broken. that god could not reach me because i was not right or pure.

per anyone i’d ask, or any research i’d done (by reviewing sermons) the alternative to feeling the way i did was throwing myself fully into a faith practice that never felt 100% right. that didn’t make sense to me, either. so, i drifted.

and then i read it: i found god in myself/ & i loved her/ i loved her fiercely

it meant everything all of a sudden. it meant freedom. it meant i needed to learn about oshun, i needed to research ishtar, and that maybe lilith wasn’t just the name of some music fair.

& then i learned that god isn’t male or female, necessarily. something a christian minister once told me was that the god of your own understanding is the god you serve. purely. truthfully. honestly.

& through orisha worship, through ancestor reverence, through living my life in a way that makes me feel full and right?

i saw the divine. she, the divine feminine. he, the father. the holy spirit. i touched it. it filled me up. i saw the balance, i saw both sides.

(this is likely going to be fleshed out later, to tie back into the title. but gimme some time, my laptop ain’t shit and i’m moving!)

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a colored girl’s love letter.

(i was gonna write a letter to tyler perry, but i’ve decided against it.  for now, anyway.)

so i’ve been thinking about tyler perry being at the helm of this major motion picture adaptation of for colored girls. and i’ve been reading the choreopoem itself over and over again.  and something i’ve come to realize as a result of this development is that when there’s an adaptation of an original work, lots of things get changed and moved around. i think the “pass” he gets is that he’s going to adapt the choreopoem. which means to me that we’re likely to get the storylines of the women, but with some serious redux. since TP’s subject matter almost exclusively involves heavily dysfunctional black women & men, we’re gonna get the essence of crystal and beau willie brown. we’re going to get the concept of the latent rapist bravado piece, but maybe never the idea that it is never the victim’s fault.
it would pain me incessantly to see this choreopoem turned into an episode of jerry springer with a dash of church music thrown in at the end.  it seems that lots of women i know feel the same way — it would be so tragic to see something we love so deeply turned into yet another reason to hear oleta adams’ “many rivers to cross” or mariah carey’s “fly like a bird” in the context of something that really reduces the black woman’s experience to its lowest common denominator.

so i’ve been thinking about that, too. what is this film adaptation going to look like? is it going to follow the same basic archetype as his other films/ plays (emotionally damaged black woman/ women finding redemption after much pain and strife… with a heavy dose of jesus h. christ for upliftment)? according to the ‘dream cast’ article from broadway.com (linked above), the narratives of the ladies will be incorporated into perry’s own script that leads them to ‘the colored girls center’. i, personally, see lots of his tried-and-true storytelling methods. i feel like that’s a really bad idea, given that most of the impact that for colored girls has (in my experience) comes from the very fact that it is a CHOREOPOEM. not a scripted play with a set and huge cast. not a scripted film with a plot. because linear storytelling, though it can be impactful, is not in tune with how most of us reach our epiphanized selves. at the end of the piece, is there not the mantra of “i found god in myself/ and i loved her/ i loved her fiercely”?  what about that? knowing that most of tyler perry’s viewership identifies as christian, are we going to discuss the divine feminine in this movie? i doubt it. so, i’m pissed.  i think it’s apparent from this piece written by stacia on postbourgie that the concern of colored girls fans is very real, and definitely not imagined or overblown.

an idea i’ve wanted to do ever since playing “lady in green” back in my freshman year of college is to do a series of colored girls readings.  it could be really simple. dinner, cocktails, the reading, then a discussion with notes and feedback forms and stuff.

i will do this. in philly, in nyc, in dc . . . where ever.

interested? email me. sechitatgmaildotcom with colored girls dinner party in the subject header.

thanks.

peace.

baby makes me.

i got this from the lovely tiona via facebook. check it:

PLEASE POST ON YOUR BLOGS, SITES, LISTS etc. Help us reach the folks we need.

Many of you have already heard about our film, Baby Makes me. For you, this is an update. But for the folks who have not heard Tiona and I are making a documentary together.

For years, I have wanted to become a mother. But the timing has never been quite right. Either my partners weren’t ready, or I was scared, or I couldn’t find a donor or something. There was always something. By the time I rolled into 35, I was tired of being afraid, tired of waiting for the right woman with whom it would be the right time, tired of watching every Christmas roll over another Birthday, tired of watching my peers get knocked up and months later appear with the most amazing little bundle of potential—I was tired of waiting and ready to make the leap, and I was ready to make it alone.

I began the research with great heart—only to discover that there were little no resources for women who either wanted to, or had to embark on the journey of motherhood in the solo. There were one or two essays and a few books on artificial insemination, and some were even directed at lesbians—but most, if not all assumed that the mother would be operating from inside of a partnership, be that partnership heterosexual or homosexual.

The idea for the film came out of a conversation with Tiona to film the pregnancy/labor, assuming that there would be one—because no one, least of all me, knows if my body will cooperate in doing such a thing as conceiving. I envisioned Tiona asking a couple of heartfelt questions and spinning the light to create a high-end home-movie I could show my child at eighteen. She agreed and we began to flesh out some ideas. That conversation, coupled with the lack of resource material out there spurred the project now known as Baby Makes Me.

Baby Makes Me, a feature-length documentary, will explore the challenges and triumphs of Single Motherhood, particularly in the lives of women of color, lesbians and women who make a conscious choice to be mothers in the absence of intimate/romantic partnerships with men.

The film will use as its narrative skeleton, the journey of activist/writer/performer, Staceyann Chin, as she navigates her personal choices with reference to motherhood. Author of the memoir, The Other Side of Paradise, Chin now brings her talents to the medium of film as writer and Executive Producer.

The Director, Tiona McClodden, is a champion of promoting positive images of women in media. Her last film, “Black./womyn.:conversations…”, garnered much respect in both accolades and awards. She now brings her attention to the issue of women and motherhood.

It is our intent to interview a series of women from all the demographic cross-sections. Issues of financial, ethical, medical, cultural, and political relevance will be fore-grounded. We hope that clinics, hospitals, families, children of Black lesbians, straight Black women who want children, mothers of gay women who lament the loss of grandchildren when they discover their daughters are gay, and anybody who seeks to have a clearer picture of the family that includes gay women will see that our lives go on, that women who are single, be they lesbian, or Black or poor, can and do have babies, and that we are simply another group of people who live and laugh and grow. We hope to paint the subjects in the film as human and likable characters who, though they are dealing with slightly different challenges than the women we traditionally see as mothers, are not very different from any other group of people considering parenthood.

We are going to need all the help we can get. We need help in reaching out to folks who would like to be interviewed; other single mothers, women who have been inseminated, women who are thinking about it, women who work in the medical field, women who work in the administrative world of policy etc. We are on the hunt for the all the voices that could represent our story in the film.

We have recently been awarded a grant from ASTREA Lesbian Foundation for Justice and are set to move forward. We write to you now, in the hope that you will want to be involved in this groundbreaking project in whatever capacity you choose: we need space to host fundraisers and screening and other events connected to the film. We need people to fundraise, to promote the film, to host community talks, to suggest topics for discussion in the film—we need to secure additional investors, we need the help of people who are experts in the business of making films, and we need the counter-perspective of people who have never made a film. We are hoping to make this a community effort; from start to finish we want the ideas to be representative of the various factions in our diverse village of the women who mother our children. If you are sure you are unable to do any of the above, we only ask that you make room for our fliers, questionnaires, invitations, and other promotional materials for the film.

We would be honored if you would join us as we attempt to break more ceilings, level more walls to make room those of us who are too frequently left out of the history and imagination of the world we live in. We look forward to a spirited journey with you, from the opening shot to the ending credits—complete with your name listed among the most stalwart of our supporters.

Thanks again to the women who have already offered assistance. We look forward to your being a part of our process.

Staceyann Chin
Executive Producer/Writer, “Baby Makes Me”
Tiona McClodden
Director/Producer, “Baby Makes Me”

Please send all inquiries and requests to: babymakesme@gmail.com

help a sista out.

this post is not about me, but some women who need my/ your help: donna, angeline, and tatjiana.

the best words about donna’s situation come directly from her (link here), but also joan’s post is excellent and sums up most of my feelings.  as far as i know, nobody’s heard from her. i’ve been praying and holding her in my heart, above all. i ask you all to do the same, or more if possible.

also: a child in the DC area is missing.  i’ve seen posts on speak up and raven’s eye.

in NYC, a sista named angeline’s daughter has been taken from her. info here. do what you can; show up, show out, SPEAK up, and SPEAK out.

silence does not protect anyone.

i love | i need | i want

it’s kind of been forever since my last post like this. so, here i am.  something i love, something i need, something i want.  heeere we go:

love:

like, yum. seriously.

like, yum. seriously.

indian food. channa, dal, basmati rice (with cumin!), chicken tikka masala, tandoori naan, roti, pakoras, samosas . . . dude. dude. DUDE. chicken vindaloo? biryani? i can’t live without the stuff. it’s going to be my undoing someday. especially with two indian restaurants within a 5 minute walk of my place.

need:
(there is no photograph to illustrate what i need.)

a particular itch scratched. i need some really good, gold foil, can’t speak in coherent sentences afterwards, sweating like a preacher during tent revival, let me make you meals between sessions sex. the kind that makes my neighbors think something real crazy is going on in my apartment, cuz all they hear is grownup noises & all they smell is bacon & waffles & shit being made. it’s so crucial. my toys cannot keep up. sending telepathic beams to the object of my desire right now. i need you to work me out again, sweets. like, over the course of 24 hours. please?

want:

(it seems that wordpress is being a ho about photo links right now. maybe i just need to go the fuck to sleep?)

a custom made dress from fly tie. somewhere between this maxi dress & this hooded dress.  really.  her blog is ill (see the first link), but her shop will take your breath away!

she’s a real sweet gal. you should check her out.

in defense of sex workers

(apologizing in advance for the rambly nature of this post. it’s taken me weeks to finish it.)

i am privileged. i come from a middle class background, both my parents are college educated, i went to prep school, and i attended a liberal arts college. i am privileged. i grew up with access to healthcare, to many resources in my neighborhood and in my city at large, and access to the information that can be used to improve just about any situation i’ve entered. the golden standard of my life has been one influenced by steady employment, education (self or institutional), and class-based values.  i have never taken a pay cut or been in a situation where i had no choice but to claw my way to the top. i’ve always been “employable” in situations that would improve my financial standing.  and, within my privileged status i have had the opportunity to do something that folks a the bottom of the capitalist ladder do not do: i have chosen to reject many facets of (if not all of) this privilege in the name of satisfying myself first.

my privilege, my access, my black bourgeois status means i have not yet in my life faced a situation where i had no choice but to work illegally to take care of myself.  i have never been a dope girl in that conventional sense; my existence has never hinged on the distribution of any package.  i have never robbed folks, participated in identity theft or other fraud, and i have not ever become a sex worker to support myself.  this is because often, choice is directly linked to access. it’s linked to privilege.

within my very strong interest in human sexuality, i have always considered sex workers in my conversations and thoughts.  sex workers are prostitutes, sex workers are porn stars, sex workers are phone sex operators and everyone in between. many (if not most) sex workers live lives devoid of fortune, fame, and glamour. instead, this is about the commodity of their bodies’ abilities to perform — not unlike those of us who work in settings viewed as “legitimate” by the larger society — and the profitability of their skill sets as well as the rate at which they produce.  this is about making money.  do not get it confused.

and though there’s a prevalent notion that anyone who does sex work is contributing to the decline of society as a whole (and that their morals are non-existent or “wrong”), i think it’s safe to say that a lot of folks know sex workers personally.  in my personal experience, stripping was a rite of passage for some friends. it was what you did to hustle up some money when there wasn’t any available.  lots of shake dancers are single moms; lots of women who turn tricks have mouths to feed. it’s a simple fact. and if nobody wants to hire you because you have kids (let’s face it, emergencies at school turn into hours lost at the plantation), or if you’re competing with dozens (even hundreds) of people with identical or better qualifications for the same job, your chances for hire are simply not that good.  everyone’s taking applications & resumes, but ain’t nobody hirin’. we all know that.  the present economic climate is beyond volatile; brown folks and women are feeling the pinch most of all.

i said all that to say that most ppl who know the life do not actually aspire to the life.  it is dangerous.  it is a source of shame. but it’s money. fast, usually, getting paid the same day you work (perfect for those emergencies, like food!), and almost a guarantee that you will spend less money on child care because the hours are shorter than day jobs or retail gigs.  it makes sense if you have an immediate need, it makes sense if you’re trying to stack a lot of money in a short period of time, & it makes sense to be a sex worker (namely a stripper or prostitute) when you cannot find a “legit” job that will pay you what you need. 

i have quite a few girlfriends who’re trade school grads, high school grads with some college under their belts,  and  college grads who’ve been sex workers. we live in a world where money is what you need, almost always, to get what you want/ need.  anyone who says they’d clean toilets for a living before being a sex worker probably doesn’t know that cleaning toilets for a living tends to have a 30 day (or more) turnaround period from inquiry to hire.  again: immediate needs tend to trump the “legitimacy” of a job.  this, to me, means that most of the folks talking shit about what’s wrong about sex work in regard to morality have no idea what it is to be that close to nothing.  this is beyond hand to mouth, beyond two checks away from poverty; this is poverty.  stepping away from privilege creates a whole other consciousness around what poor is, what poverty is, and what might be required of a parent (or of a family) to even begin to make ends meet.  i daresay that when some poor folks indict the character of sex workers it’s the result of internalized classism combined with the comfort of being able to point a disapproving finger at someone.  

the choices we make about the jobs we accept are framed by privilege, including the kind of work we do. my forays into sex work have been limited to working as a pro domme & subject of foot worship. i am not a prostitute.  i am not a shake dancer. i am not an escort. i am a pro domme.  i had the opportunity to research this type of sex work before deciding to participate. i have access to resources that have enabled me to decide the kinds of domme work i’m going to do, to advertise myself in arenas that maintain my anonymity & privacy, to do all of these things that give me a certain level of protection not afforded to women or men who walk the street or dance.  i am able to shut my business down or take it to another level whenever i’d like. i have more control over the whole situation because i’m informed enough and can create safety measures for myself. there’s time and space for me to create the situation i desire. though my privilege does not guarantee my safety i know that i at least have a buffer between myself and danger.  there’s something like a respectability factor that, if i got “busted” by someone’s wife, i could always throw prostitutes and strippers under the bus.  “at least i’m not fucking your husband, lady. i’m a domme, not a whore.” 

if i were selling my ass on the street, it’d likely be a different story. whether i had a pimp or not, i’d be in immediate danger of being subjected to attacks by citizens and police alike.  if i were dancing, i’d be subject to all manner of abuses both inside of the club and out.  as a matter of fact, as i type these last sentences there is very likely someone on the loose in philly poisioning girls who dance, either with drinks or drugs. (more on that later)

i could very easily, with a few changes to my life story, be one of these women.  the women we blame for being sex workers when they are assaulted or killed.  the women  whose lives we assess with two or three words because it’s convenient for us to do so (whore. dirty slut. home wrecker. trash. good-for-nothing).   with a few modifications to my background — or even my present situation — i could be the conspicuously invisible or missing family member who died mysteriously but has nobody to speak up for her.

& maybe that’s my whole point. there’s misrepresentation and misunderstanding around sex work.  regardless of whether you domme, you’re a porn star, you dance, or you escort, there’s an automatic marginalization.  the idea is that you are lesser than, you don’t deserve to walk with dignity or hold your head up high — especially if your station in life is not “honorable.”  but, in this structure, there is not built-in honor for all. there is no common knowledge that reminds folks of the idea that none of us deserves to be degraded or downtrodden by virtue of who we are. we do not earn or deserve suffering or mistreatment because of what we do to make money any more than by simply being who we are.

triggered. like a motherfucker.

my identity as a queer woman is hard-won.  through years of vascillation, denial, secrecy, and srategic planning dedicated to hiding myself from myself i am now working at being authentically myself. and a big part of that is being forthright with any potential lovers about my sexuality.  there is no introduction that goes, “i’m sparkle, and i’m bisexual”.  but there’s also no soap opera (or jenny jones) moment when i spring it on futureboo or presentboo in a space that she or he might find uncomfortable.  because that’s not how you treat folks.  my honesty has most likely cost me a relationship or three.  and i’m okay with that.  nobody wants to be in a relationship where they feel stifled instead of feeling edified.  so, it is with that knowledge i walk.  it’s not an easy walk: there are folks who don’t recognize my sexuality as legitimate compared to their own, there are folks who presume that i’m unaware of what i want in life (or in my bed), and there are also folks who believe that my queerness makes me impossible of being monogamous.

it is this completely erroneous belief/ assumption that makes me impossibly pissed off.  and it is this idea that made me want to write this blog post, because of a song called “think my girl (ay, ay)” by omarion.  this song gives what might be considered an inside view of a relationship between the narrator (whom i presume to be a hetero-identified person whose sex assignment at birth was male, who identifies as male/ man) and his girlfriend, whose behavior implies that she may be cheating on him with a female associate of hers.  this woman does not answer her phone when she’s with this friend, referred to as “the girl that doesn’t have a man” in the lyrics to the first verse. (you can listen for yourselves here, dear readers; i refuse to transcribe this shit.)  the hook of this song goes on to express that though the girlfriend is very physically affectionate with the narrator her behavior changes when around this friend of hers, has a better eye for attractive women than her paramour, and also presumes that the narrator is welcome in the bedroom with the girlfriend and whomever she’s cheating on him with.  the second verse includes some information about the narrator’s girlfriend and her friend having matching tattoos, and some “secret conversations” between the two women.

what bothers and upsets me is the fact that this song is a bunch of stereotypes and assumptions wrapped into one neat little sonic package.  this song is a symptom of the problem — it’s giving me hives when goddess knows i am allergic to bullshit.  this song neatly lists (for me, anyway) what seem to be the predominant, erroneous, widely held beliefs about bisexual women.

i have to acknowledge that  heterosexual privilege allows this song to exist.  heterosexual privilege allows the demonization of anyone who does not exemplify compulsory heterosexuality.

the narrator’s girlfriend is acting suspiciously (in his opinion, or per his explanation as narrator).  since there’s another woman involved in this (as either a friend or lover, possibly both), it’s implied that the girlfriend’s behavior can be attributed specifically to a sexual relationship with this other woman. so, this makes her hot-in-the-ass and unfaithful.  this also demonizes the presumed other woman; she’s got some kind of a stranglehold on the girlfriend’s mind, via sex. there’s no suggestion that the girlfriend is keeping company with this woman who “doesn’t have a man” because she’s sick. or because she’s got kids she needs help with. or an ailing relative. or something that is not about sex.  (could it be that only women sing/ write songs that discuss concern for other women? see: eve’s “love is blind”, destiny’s child’s “girl”, or the jazzyfatnastees’ “how sad”. i don’t think that this is the case, but i’m just asking.) let’s examine this: not answering the phone within an hour (verse 1), a friend with no man who’s often around (probably cuz she hasn’t got a man to keep her company), a knack for identifying a beautiful woman before her man does, and limited PDA when said manless friend is around — she’s just got to be cheating with this manless friend!  am i the only one who thinks this is rather base?  furthermore, bisexuality does not exclude any human being (male or female, cisgender or transgender) from monogamy! emotional immaturity may exclude one from being faithful to their partner.  (polyamory is not a condition of being bisexual, either. but let’s not talk about that right now.)

the idea that the narrator should try having an openly bisexual girlfriend implies that she’s open to having a threesome, which is also not a fact of bisexuality.  there are some bisexual folks who are not in any way interested in group sex.  this is also incredibly troublesome, as it feeds into the idea that the hetero man’s job is to conquer vaginae far and wide, that the sexuality is not valid if he’s not (a) involved or (b) giving approval to the sexual relationship.  hello: i’m autonomy, and i believe that i only need the person who utilizes me in order to be valid or legitimate. your dick hasn’t got anything to do with it, narrator (or anyone else).  that’s hetero privilege for you: you can do what you want, cuz there’s nothing “wrong” with the kind of sex you’re into.

bottom line, this song is offensive for a number of reasons.  ultimately, it turns a woman’s body into product, into object, into a commodity to be fetishized.  it takes away her humanity and reduces her autonomy to a jezebel’s supposed nature.  and no,  a pop song should not have the final say on how we as a larger society view sexuality. but, art often imitates life.  somebody, somewhere may think of this song and either identify with it on some level or forming opinions based on it.

of course, there are ideas that aren’t addressed in the lyrics of  “think my girl (ay, ay)”.  there’s nothing quite like the limited attitudes of some folks in the GLBTQ community to make a woman like myself feel even more boxed in.  there’s the idea that we are nasty, the flat-out lie that we are incapable of loving one person at a time, and most of all there’s the simple misconception that we are who we are because we’re hot in the ass.  not all of us are.  there are polyamorous heterosexual and homosexual people.  there are people who sabotage relationships by cheating, but that has nothing to do with their sexuality.  that’s an issue of emotional maturity, in my opinion.

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