“Girl, did you hear about Sherry?”

“What happened?”

“Her and Jamal got it on! She told me they went out the other night and she let him hit it.”

“What?! Wasn’t she just with Charles?”

“Yeah…she’s so nasty, sleeping with all those men. Why don’t she just hurry up and get married so she don’t gotta sleep around like that.”

“Damn, shame.”

I’ve heard this conversation play out over and over again. No matter if it’s about Sherry from around the way or music’s latest “it” girl, it seems like when it comes to single women, and especially single black women, and sex everybody has something to say.

Every time I hear someone talk about a celebrity’s sex life—say Rihanna, Ciara, or Amber Rose—and make assumptions about how many people they have (or haven’t) been intimate with, I can’t help but feel some type of way. While many brush off the validity of talking about popular culture, it’s hard to deny that it is through this lens that many women are judged.

Nearly 50 years after the sexual revolution and the women’s movement of the 1960s, people still have a whole lot to say about other folk’s sex lives. Ginuwine may have once sang, it “ain’t none of your friend’s business,” but I bet even they are talking about your sex life. But why?

Why is what others do in the confines of their bedroom any of our business?

From celebrity gossip magazines tracking the sexting habits of some of entertainment’s finest, to your girls poppin’ shit about the neighborhood jump-off, some people are quick to judge the decisions of others.  While many of us revel in the freedom to make our own decisions, when it comes to sex (despite most people getting down), we still like to play the “I’m a good girl, but she’s a whore” game.

People get nervous when women confidently express their sexuality. Traditionally, we are taught to be modest and chaste, while men are encouraged (and even expected) to follow their natural desires and knock down as many women as possible. But women? Women who buck conventional values and unabashedly love sex (and dare to talk about it) are seen as silly, easy, whores who cannot, under any circumstances, be trusted (think: Lil Kim).

Women who love sex and dare to talk about it are mercilessly criticized. Their character and their ability to discern what’s right for them constantly get called into question.  And because sexually liberated women are still quite puzzling to some, they are viewed suspiciously.

You’d think that in this day in age, when our culture openly sells sex with everything from shoes to soda pop, we’d be comfortable with women in control of their sexuality, but from the discussions about who is and is not a “hoe,” it is clear we have a long way to go.

What do you think? Why are black women’s sex lives SUCH a topic of conversation?

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  • Adriii

    The harsh judgment of non-chaste women is a part of most cultures- not just black American. It’s about control. Female sexual liberation results in men’s loss of control over them in many cases. (Example: Now men have to actually PLEASE women in bed instead of just jackrabbiting for 2 seconds and falling asleep? Maaaaan! But that requires more…work and consideration on their part!) Fixation, gossiping, etc. is just an attempt to shame these women back into submission.