She's Gotta Have It: Why Orgasms Are A Major Act of Self Love
On What It Means To Be Sex Positive in 2018
Sex is truly an enigma. It is one of those rare things that you know (most) everyone is doing, yet is hardly discussed openly. For women especially, complete sexual expression can be hard to live IRL.
But why is that?
Well in part, we aren’t fully educated on the subject or our bodies beyond what is taught about the birds and the bees in Sex Ed in middle school. Yet, there is so much more, and I was determined to learn more about sexual exploration. So I talked to sex-positive writer Tiffany Curtis (pictured below), who talks sex at places like Refinery29, Blavity, HelloGiggles, and more.
Read our convo where she shares the lowdown on masturbation, bad sex, and why it is important for every woman to get off.
LH: What does it mean to be sex positive to you?
TC: Sex positivity is the mindset that sex should be mutually consensual and pleasurable for all parties involved.
LH: So what defines bad sex?
TC: Bad sex is if you are not being asked what feels good or what you like...
LH: Okay. So very one-sided.
TC: Yeah, I feel like sex is something that we should put more time and attention into, but it shouldn't feel like hard work. I think that after it's over, you shouldn't feel bad about the fact that you just had it. I think one, if it physically doesn't feel good and two, if you don't feel right about it either mentally or emotionally, then you might need to reassess that person that you were touching or maybe the way that you were going about it, or even your own views on sex. If it doesn't feel good, it's not good.
LH: And I feel like for women, even connecting with the fact it is supposed to feel good to everyone, is missed sometimes.
TC: Yeah. If you don't know any better, you might think that that's how it's supposed to be. I never really thought to question some of the things I initially was encountering.
LH: If we're just talking about heterosexual sex, porn has men very confused about the female anatomy.
TC: I blame the Ebony sections (on PornHub) if we're going to get into views on black women's sexual experiences and how people regard the black female anatomy, but I think most porn is so exaggerated. There are alternatives, a female friendly porn, there is ethically made porn that puts female pleasure more at the forefront.
LH: What do you think hinders black women from being fully expressed sexually?
TC: Religion. (laughs) Shame is what keeps black women from having agency over their bodies and what they do with their bodies. I think that growing up religious, especially Christian, causes people to carry shame about their sexuality. It's like you carrying all these kinds of shame with you for years and then once you're an adult, you don't know how to unpack these things because no one was really as having conversations with me about things. I was just told don't do that.
LH: How would you say the media depicts black women's sexuality?
TC: I feel like it's always an extreme. I don’t like the word promiscuous, you should be able to have as much sex as you want to whoever you want, but I feel like that free spirit depiction is really like code for promiscuity or you see someone who isn't really sexual at all. You are either a Jezebel or homely, black women who no one wants to have sex with. You don't really see a lot of people interested in the black female character as a sexual character.
LH: Oh, so what did you think of Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It” reboot?
TC: I appreciated what he was trying to do. I feel like the way that (Nola’s) polyamory was depicted in the show wasn't ethical. She was dating multiple people but not really being open about it. I feel like that element of it makes it unethical a little bit because to my knowledge, when you're maintaining polyamorous relationships, the parties involved want the same thing or are on the same page. So, the portrayal of polyamory was flawed.
LH: How do you think masturbation helps our awareness of our sexuality as women?
TC: Self pleasure is less risk involved. Self-pleasure is one of the best ways to make sure that you're able to have positive interactions with other people. It's like an insurance policy because one, you're able to tell other people you know how to please you and if they can't, you're like, “Well, I got me.”
LH: So, what tools would you recommend for women to learn about to better self pleasure themselves?
TC: I would say the number one thing is the internet. Internet is your friend because one, that's where we can buy the toys, you can read about them and know, what options are available to you. It can be really uncomfortable for women to think about these things and then to, to act on them. O.School is a great online resource, it is basically like an online portal for sex positive workshops. They have a roster of pleasure experts.
LH: It’s great it's taught by professionals.
TC: Yeah. It's not just one girl on the street telling you how to have an orgasm. It’s licensed and certified people.
LH: What are your thoughts on sex toys?
TC: It depends on the mood you're in. If you have time to really be with yourself or with a partner like for some time, a dildo is good. However if you don't have time, get something with the strongest vibration. Most of them have an attachment for clitoral stimulation.
LH: What do you think men, particularly black men can do to promote sex positivity for black women?
TC: I feel like they can listen. Sex activity is often fueled in terms of hypermasculinity. Men are always considered to be at the top--literally and figuratively. Women’s pleasure is always an afterthought. So I feel like men need to listen and prioritize. I think the misinformation that we've received and the toxic things that we've been taught hold us back. Black men and Black women need to rewire our thinking so we don’t block our sexual blessings.
LH: Anything else that you would suggest that can promote sex positivity, in addition to everything you've already said?
TC: I think moving your body (is important). So for me, I'm big on like dancing. Being able to be comfortable and just kind of how you feel in your body on a daily basis and particularly in non sexual ways. How am I walking down the street? That ends up translating into your sexual experience. Black women have been synonymous with movement since forever.
Ladies, do you consider yourself sex positive?
Interview has been condensed. Follow Tiffany on Instagram @SomeTLC to read her latest.