Celibacy, Jealousy, and The Most Important Relationship of All

9 Feb

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Sometimes I feel like I want a “relationship,” sometimes I don’t.

The truth is, I don’t ever want to be in relationship and yet, I am always IN relationship. (I left out the “s” on purpose. Relationship is a state of mind, a state of being.) The question is how I choose to show up.

As I’ve been thinking about becoming celibate, there’s the question of intimacy and sexuality.

I want to feel close to someone at various times. Who wouldn’t want connection? Who wouldn’t want to feel fun and abandon in one’s body? The question is, what will I choose to attach that idea of intimacy to in my mind? What meaning will I give it? Am I able to feel the fullness of sexuality and sensuality and intimacy in my life as a woman and refrain of actual sex?

I have realized that whatever I put as a condition for someone else is what I hold myself to.

I also think about my bouts with jealousy and possession that I’ve been prone in the past. When I imprison someone with jealousy and expectations, that has to come through me first in order to get to them. I’m no longer willing to subject myself to that first, mainly because it sucks for me.

I’m selfish like that.
If I choose to be exclusive with someone and I’m also celibate, by default they must be celibate too.

Am I willing to subject someone to that?  Are there men out there willing to share that journey with me? Do I want or need them to?

I care more about what I want now, more than ever. And it feels damn good.
I’m already entangled in relationships of various styles, connections of various levels. None really have strings attached as I learn to “manage my expectations.” It’s a fun ride letting go.

I’m probably deceiving myself when I say “I don’t know if I want a relationship.”

What I’m really saying is “I  don’t know if I’m willing to take someone with me on this very self-centered journey of self-love and development. I don’t want to own you because I’m not going to let you own me. I’m quite good right now.”

When I decide to commit to someone, they’ll have to take a second seat to who I’m already dating…the woman I am.
That’s the most important relationship of all.


							

When a Friend is “Over You”

18 Jan
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Be your own best friend.

Over the years, the most important thing I’ve come to know about friendship is this: friendships ebb and flow.

When you lose touch with a friend, don’t be discouraged.
Recently I was talking to this guy who I met online. He’s about 60 years old. He’s poly (meaning polyamorous, meaning he has many loves – I hope to continue exploring this later). He’s generally a cool guy so far. Physically, I wouldn’t say he does it for me,  but his conversation is interesting as hell and we’re just friends.
We talked about this very idea of people entering and exiting one’s life.
He said, “Anyone who’s ever been in my life, even if it’s a woman who has broken up with  me or someone who he never thought I would see again, they come back around.”
You may be going through something like this. A friend of yours might be over it: not returning phone calls, not even liking your very positive hilarious posts on Facebook. (How dare they?) But, if the connection is real and strong and meant to last then it will come back around in some form, even if it’s not the way you had envisioned.
I used to chase people and I learned not to do that.
It doesn’t mean I don’t still send a random text to people I was once very emotionally tethered to, but I have had to learn to manage my expectations. The moment when it’s JUST BEGINNING TO WANE is the hardest. It’s like a breakup but with friends, no one ever tells you. They just slowly fade away until they disappear. And even more devastating is when the break is abrupt – cold turkey.
It probably takes an even stronger, braver person as a friend to TELL YOU WHY they stopped talking to you. Most won’t.
So be patient and breathe through the pain. Try to open up communication if you can, but if the person is just non-responsive…know that it’s about THEM. Even if it IS about you…it’s about THEM feeling some type of way about you. Still about them.
You’re living your life…Doing the best you can, right? So are they…But this is the hardest pill to swallow: that someone you adore can be “over you.”
Also, when the people come back around it may not be the way it once was, some people won’t allow themselves to go back down that road with the same person again after being hurt once…and that is exactly what has happened with me and old friends. Now, we speak on Facebook at the most…maybe the phone. But I know I can’t get as deep as I once did. There’s just this unspoken barrier within myself that even now I feel comfy enough expressing if I had to. And the reason is because I’ve had years to process the trauma of the loss of a friend who is very much alive. This process can take YEARS. But you move on.
I know it’s all love between me and those people (I assume and that’s good enough for me). But in terms of where we ONCE were…nope. I’m not going back.

I’ve been friend zoned – And I like it

4 Jan

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Hard to believe, but I’ve been FRIEND ZONED! I just wrote about the friend zone and setting boundaries in relationships in my last post.

I’ve been talking about this for a while in this space, the blurred lines that can sometimes occur between friends when there’s an attraction. It’s often a thin tightrope to walk.

Lately, I’ve been thinking that if I were giving relationship advice, I would advise women to never tell a man from jump that they’re not going to be intimate with him if they have an initial attraction to him, unless there was a reason that you need to say it out loud and make it a point – that is, if he asks. Some things just don’t need to be said, and part of your power as a woman is living in that mystery that men find so alluring. Not because they find it alluring, but because it’s a part of your power.

Also, if there’s an initial attraction there, you might just change your mind, and you might want to exercise that option years later because friendships are built to last.

I’ve been intimate with a few of my really good male friends. Sometimes it was because of one night of overflowing passion that finally reached a breaking point, and others it’s because we tried to have a relationship and for some reason, decided against it.

Because the friendship was solid for years, I didn’t have to worry about losing someone or the energy becoming awkward indefinitely because we had sex. We were beyond silly games, and we respected each other enough to where we could talk about our needs.

I’m grateful for these relationships. They are stronger than ever before, now that I make it an intentional practice of nurturing long lasting friendships. Maybe I’ll write about that next week.

Maybe I’ll write about that next week. But THIS week tho! I’ll tell you how it all started. I’m pretty open on my Facebook page. I am rebranding, quite subtly, but I’m really only trying to reinforce positivity and love on my page. People take notice.

One person in particular did, and since I knew a few of the people he dated, I figured he was cool since he hasn’t been excommunicated from the community.

Mostly, I just follow my intuition on these matters.

I’m an Aquarius moon, so it’s natural for me to have friends from all over the world, from all walks of life.

He commented on some of my posts and we sparked up a conversation. Soon we were talking on the phone, and at this point, I still didn’t know exactly what he wanted from me. I knew this man was older, and he seemed to talk about money more than was tasteful. But what intrigued me was that he was taking a class to improve his business skills, while having already ran a profitable business for 4 years. I researched it and it seemed legit. Anyway, I wasn’t going to invest in his business or anything, which is now being dissolved I believe – but I’m very careful where I put my energy these days, any relationship I form is, in fact, and investment.

Our first conversation on one evening lasted hours, which didn’t say much because I can talk for hours with no problem. He did most of the talking anyway. I enjoyed listening. This is a skill I wanted to cultivate more skillfully for my own self-development. It’s been working. It’s funny how the Universe responds to your intentions – I’ve been meeting some serious big talkers lately. Refreshing.

So, he eventually invited me to a party, but I got robbed! Larceny was performed (funny way to put it) on my vehicle that week, so I didn’t go. Plus, I was tired. I didn’t feel like the drive, and I wasn’t quite sure about this one yet. I was sure that I wasn’t really attracted to him in the way of romance, but in my new practice of keeping silent until there’s a reason to speak up, I didn’t feel the need to mention it. I did ask what he expected, and he said he just wanted to chill. Being so forthright when speaking about how he dealt frankly with other women, I didn’t feel he’d feel the need to lie to me.

We didn’t speak for a while, then one day he texted me saying, “I want to speak to you about something.”

“Sure,” I texted back.He called me and said, “Listen, I wanted to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed our conversations, and I’d really like to keep you in my life – as a friend.”

He called me moments later and said, “Listen, I wanted to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed our conversations, and I’d really like to keep you in my life – as a friend.”

Well that gave me pause.

“And that requires a conversation?” I asked skeptically, with a bit of an attitude even.

“Well, actually… ”

And this is where it gets interesting

“…In this class I’ve been taking, they said one of the biggest mistakes you can make in a relationship is to not express your intentions from the beginning. If you don’t, how can both parties’ expectations be aligned?”

This was definitely new for me. I didn’t think I could apply this piece of advice of telling him what  I wanted, until after I knew I actually wanted a romantic partnership with a man. Then slowly, but surely, (that’s the goal) I begin to give him more and more responsibility and see how he handles it. Only then can he be a viable partner in my life.

NOTE: Becuase I hate when bloggers are making it seem like they’re totally following all of their own rules and perfect at everything, I want to say that this was only what I learned AFTER screwing so many relationships up. I mean by putting ALL of the responsibility for my happiness on the other person, by actually getting UPSET that they had other things to do besides be with me (now, I actually LOVE busy, PRODUCTIVE men) and exploding into angry, emotional outbursts and pouring out my heart to them that I have abandonment issues that they’ve triggered by not calling me back. So yes, I HAVE MADE THESE MISTAKES and here you’ll see me LEARNING from them. That is all.

Now, back to me literally being friend zoned – this was happening and I didn’t even catch it – but I liked it!

Not only did it take the pressure off of me of wondering what this new man who wanted to be in life expected of the times we would hang out and enjoy each other’s company, but he was straight up about it. It was a verbal contract. There was no mystery – there didn’t need to be – we’re just friends.

And friendship is a beautiful thing. I’ll never devalue it again.

I didn’t feel slighted. I didn’t feel less attracted to him OR less attractive. I felt relieved and empowered.

Sooner or later I won’t care at all what men want from me, or other people in general. I’ll show up with what I’m ready to give and leave it at that.

But I’m still navigating approaching all of my relationships in a new way.

I take full responsibility for my feelings, and you take responsibility for yours. It IS a process.

And in the meantime, some clear boundaries don’t hurt. In fact, they actually help.

What should you take away from this? Maybe I’ll revise what I said earlier: establish what you want from the relationship as early as you know it – but don’t let anyone pressure you into making a decision before you’re ready.

The friend zone is a pretty comfortable place. Kick your feet up, and make yourself at home.

Men who feel entitled to women’s bodies may want to leave the planet now

19 Dec

Last night, I lost a friend.

It was his choice.

And actually, he did me a favor.

I told him how he would fit in my life.

He felt resentful of the fact that he does not have access to my body in the way he would like. I had made an executive decision that despite a bit of chemistry that may have existed when we first met (he was there, nice, clean, fun, a gentleman- and I wanted a little bit of foreplay), we were to remain as friends and work on creative collaborations together.

I gently advised him that continuing to pursue a sexual relationship with me would be more trouble than it is worth right now. Quite simply, no. That’s not all I did say, but that’s all I should have had to.

A creative partnership and friendship would be the perfect arrangement for me, and he agreed to it. We were having fun together ever since, or so I thought.

I thought I could manage his desperation.

Although he is a Cancer who pushes women away with the faint odor of desperation at times, he is a sweet boy.  Because I sensed this early on, I knew that the cost to be intimate with him would be too high for me at the time; and on top of that, I just wasn’t attracted enough to him for his desire for me to override my choice. Nothing can override my choice. He would demand more than I could ever give, and this would make me disrespect him in the future, I just knew that pattern all too well.

He said he agreed to my decision. We would talk, uplift each other, laugh, attend parties, and talk about spirituality and creativity. I would advise him on other women he was relating with. There were even moments when he comforted me when I cried about tragedy and trauma, like my past relationship and recent robbery.

I had noticed red flags of passive aggressiveness as well. But, I let it go in the name of forgiveness. I would confront these problems head on, taking the emotional lead in our friendship that was budding and blossoming – or so I thought.

The problems arose when he would hint that there was still some lingering sexual attraction between us – I promptly assured him there was not.

I was merciful, I didn’t tell him all the reasons why, but while speaking to a very wise friend last night she said this, “It’s kind of like that person’s expression a mutual desire that isn’t really there makes them even less attractive, because it’s like they’re not acknowledging that your “No” is valid…”

No is a complete sentence.

This isn’t one of those situations where I don’t want someone because they want me, no, it’s the idea that a man thinks he can change a woman’s mind, MY mind, by simply expressing his upset over the fact that I chose what role he’d play in my life. I took his words of agreement at face value.

I was wrong.

He was lying to me and himself the whole time. Some men are just not emotionally mature enough to stay in their place and wait for the right time or situation to have all their wishes granted and more.

Who knows? My feelings may have changed. But they would have changed when I said so.

I try to manage my relationships with strategy and heart.

I ration out sexual attention to whomever I choose and I’m strategic and calculated about it for a reason. I manage expectations and I’m learning to do this more skillfully than ever. I’m loving the learning process…and it isn’t without HEART.

But it is without compromise.

I’m making it my goal to live in authenticity now. On Sunday afternoon I offered to hang out, I told him I missed him and enjoyed his company when asked, “Why?”  Since when do you need a reason to see your friends? On the night I was robbed, I actually was on my way to meet him downtown for an impromptu photo shoot that he asked me to be apart of. He wanted me to be his creative muse and I enthusiastically agreed.

So what happened from Tuesday to Sunday? He said our “personalities aren’t compatible” and he’s “only hanging out with the new woman he’s dating.” Lol. How sweet…and stupid if you ask me. Later he confesses: “It’s really just you who I’m cutting off.”

I calmly, with a hint of indignance, told him his reason for deciding to “cut off” our friendship and “end all creative collaborations” was dishonest and inauthentic, and that I’d be here for when he realizes the mistake he made.

Just because I’m empathic doesn’t mean I’m going to take responsibility for your feelings.

I know this pattern. But I’m not going to take his stuff on like the empath I know myself to be usually would, and claim it for her own.

By saying you don’t want a friendship with me because I don’t want to be sexual with you is like saying that sex is all I have to offer. We all know that’s insane.

I’m claiming THIS BODY to share with whomever I see fit as my own, and women are doing this by the thousands; more and more each day. We’re doing it without the slightest bit of apology, either.

So any men who feel entitled to women’s bodies might want to leave the planet now. 

You’ll be in a world of hurt until you realize that women don’t owe you a thing, and you’d be better off being patient and waiting your turn – if you’re ever granted one.

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My Top Self-Care Ritual Essentials

30 Sep

After a long much needed hiatus, I think this is a perfect interlude. I’ve been streaming in and out of self care. I think this is a fitting post by a most gifted writer, Tashia Ariel. Enjoy!

Earth Wind & Curls

*singing in best Ledisi voice* Beeee good…to yourselffffff.

Happy New Moon Night! Sistas, how y’all feel! Brothas, y’all are alright?

Since becoming a full-time entrepreneur, one important thing has become pretty paramount in this new life that I am still adjusting to. Nurturing yourself is of the UTMOST importance. 

To be honest, it’s something that I should’ve gotten better at while still in Corporate America, but when you are finally in control of your days and how you want them to flow, it becomes a lesson in really facing yourself…with EVERYTHING. The good, bad and in-betweens. Everything is out in the open because now YOU have the power to create your life with every given moment and thought in a more purposeful way than you did before. It’s raw, it’s vulnerable, it’s uncomfortable, it’s unavoidable.

With the many things we’re faced with, it’s SO so easy to be super hard…

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SEVEN DAYS of SELF LOVE – I guess I am a Woman.

11 Aug

oshun, yemaya, oya, winds of change, sudden change, self love, self improvement, acim, a course in miracles, thoughts create reality

If I really thought my thoughts changed my reality, then wouldn’t I be spending my energy on changing my thoughts especially if I don’t like my reality? I love my reality. It is either love, or a CALL for love. And this sweet pain has become delicious, bc I’m letting myself feel it, and existential crises are now healed by Love. I think my deepest fear is that I am not Loved and can never truly Love anyone. That I will remain with this pain forever. But slowly and surely….my reality reflects something different. I self soothe fuck outta myself. I curse myself then correct it….I tell myself that everything I see outside of myself is actually in my own mind. If perceive that I am neglected, it is because I am neglectful of myself. I’m a wild woman, but I don’t allow myself to be at all times. Sometimes I’m calm and that seems more acceptable to people. Sometimes I’m really committed and see a future with myself, other times I just want to run away from any routine and explode into impossibilities, leaving love, tenderness and destruction where ever I spin, like a tornado, (Oya – Sudden Change, Purification). Sometimes I am an Ocean and wanna have lots of babies and cater to everyone around me with nurturance and Momma-Love (Yemaya). At times I am the River, gushing with life, sensuous, gathering and attracting all kinds of gifts, giving them away without a care, drenched in gold and sunglight. Oshun, my dominant kind of thing. I am all of these things within a single DAY. Oh well, I guess I am a woman.

How My Uterus Led Me to Raw, Living, Sprouted, Super Foods!

1 Jun

I want to start going high raw today!

LIFEBLAZING

 

Mid-April 2008.  My gynecologist told me my uterine fibroid tumors (aka “fibroids”) had grown to a size equaling a 16-week fetus.  Lots of women — 25% of all women, 50% of Black women — have fibroids.  Not a biggie.  But carrying the equivalent of a 4-month old fetus can start to affect your quality of life.  (And I don’t just mean being denied a flat stomach!)  I had been enduring pain and “inconveniences” for awhile, and my doctor advised me to have the tumors surgically removed.  Well, I might have considered that as an option… until she explained the procedure:

First, my uterus (a woman’s is normally the size and shape of an upside down pear) would be lifted out of my lower abdomen and placed on top of my stomach where it would then be manually searched for the hardened growths that are to be cut away.  She compared this to pinching and squeezing a pillow with your fingers to find…

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Guest Post: The Self Love Below

14 Feb

It seems like the last few years we’ve been hearing the term self love everywhere. It’s become an effective, yet confusing, marketing tool. While this messaging at first seemed like a positive step, it’s clearly more about selling the product than celebrating women, better known as the consumers. Love yourself by using this deodorant… Love yourself by buying this $50 wrinkle cream. Hurry, you’re almost 30!.. Love yourself by fulfilling your chocolate craving with this fiber bar that tastes like kitty litter… they’ve convinced us that self love is about “indulging” in a piece of sugar-free candy. That’s certainly not a bad idea, but we’re selling ourselves way short. There’s something we can tap into that’s much more powerful and long-lasting, and it’s as natural as a 3:00 pm yearning for something sweet.

Self love actually means putting yourself and your needs first. Sometimes this feels like we’re disappointing others or being selfish, but it’s kind of like how on the airplane you have to put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else with theirs. Women have a hard time with this since patriarchal systems have convinced us that our sole purpose and the measure of our worth is based on taking care of others. But this is why taking care of and loving ourselves is such a crucial step towards liberation.

It may sound like a tall order, smashing patriarchy and all, but one way to generate self love is by doing just that: masturbating. Self-cultivation, as  Oprah calls it, truly enables us to take control. By fulfilling our needs, we are owning our power. Exploring our bodies and what brings us pleasure enables to get connected with our true selves on a deep level. Think of it almost like physical meditation, because the benefits are similar—increased clarity, fulfillment and joy, to name a few. By experiencing self-created pleasure, we find we don’t need to depend on someone else. Once this is realized, an overwhelming sense of freedom sweeps in.

In addition to the mental and emotional benefits, many studies show the overall health advantages of masturbating. If happiness and higher self esteem aren’t enough to convince you, loving on yourself also prevents UTI’s and lowers blood pressure. There are all different techniques and tools to play with, as noted by Adam and Eve, and they include standard vibrators, clitoris-stimulating devices, G-Spot massagers, and several others. Keep in mind that everyone’s body is different. Start out with some gentle vaginal massaging and work up to more intense stimulation. This is about doing what feels good for you.  What’s most important is letting go of preconceived notions and enjoying yourself.

Self love isn’t just for when you’re solo. Having healthy sexual relationships with ourselves leads to improved relations with our partners. It’s no surprise that Psychology Today states that masturbating is the number one key to sexual happiness. When we’re comfortable with our bodies and aware of what we like, we’re able to communicate that to our partners. This is a win-win situation. It relieves stress for our partners since they won’t be playing the guessing game. They can enjoy themselves knowing they’re pleasing us, and we can enjoy being pleased.

It’s true what they say: “You can never love anyone until you learn to love yourself.” So re-think all that time, money, and energy you put into pleasing other people. Maybe next time you’re getting ready for a date, avoid the crippling emotional distress of applying false eyelashes and instead connect to the divine within yourself.

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My Own Jealousy Turns Me On. WTF?

1 Feb

That time I simultaneously felt jealousy and a sweet tingling in my pussy…WTF?

How could this be? How could I be turned on by a thought that scares me?

I used to punish myself and turn myself on with thoughts of my lover having sex with someone else. This is the first time I realized jealousy could be a tool. The fantasy would be him taking her in the bedroom while I sat outside of the room and cried. But yet, I was able to have some pretty good orgasms with this line of thought.

The man I’m seeing has a ton of female “friends.” Talldrankawater that he is I assume that every woman in his life who poses as a mere friend wants to sleep with him. Just like I assume that the men in my life want to sleep with me, talldrankawater that I am. Slight to severe jealousy is present into that current situation. I got rid of it for a while by wishing it away. But it came back.

I do a lot of projecting. Like all those times I assumed that all of my various boyfriends would love my best friend, and fall in love with her if they met her. I made sure they knew all of her great qualities and would have us all hang out. Of course, until I met the new guy through her. Then when I looked at the situation I realized that he had never given me any indication that he liked as anything more than a friend. No, really it was me who was harboring those feelings and couldn’t own them enough to own them. (I realize I repeated myself but that’s the best way I can explain it.)

Every woman I think is beautiful I immediately transfer those feelings to the man I’m seeing at the moment. Now, logic would tell you, since none of the men I have seen have really been like any of my friend’s boyfriends, and her are equally beautiful and intelligent yet not really alike. So why would I automatically assume that they would like her so much? Is it because I couldn’t really believe that they would truly appreciate me? Do they have to choose? Do I appreciate myself?

Learning to. Loving the journey.

None of them really seemed that interested in how they might feel about her, but they were very interested in how I felt. And I’m sure some even wondered why the hell I was doing this? Why was I so insistent on him meeting my friends? I still don’t know the answer to this question…I remember I hooked my first love up with his ex. You know, middle school shit. After I decided we were “better off as friends” (our relationship blossomed after we decided to break up) I really wanted to see him happy, with her. I loved her. Her name was Ashley, and she was just as crazy as me. Jealousy wasn’t as much of an issue because I loved her, and also because I never stopped my relationship with my ex.

It’s fascinating to get in touch with all of the sick and twisted contents in your own mind. Yeah, it’s really fascinating to know all the ways the mind will trick itself; soothe itself, and lie. Thinking about jealousy and all of its implications helps me really look at how I look at the world. Limiting beliefs, please exit stage right.

We are looking for the key to the house that we’re already in. It means that all that we need we are already inside of, and is inside of us. We have the answers. Start asking questions. Or, just get quiet. When I quieted my mind, I found four men in there. An old white man who looked like Santa Claus, a middle aged Indian man who had lived in this house before me, or was considering buying it, a transgender black man/woman, and a 30 something white man who is kind of pessimistic and still lives with his mother. They gave me truths. Looking like an image straight out of the En Vogue video “Free Your Mind,” clad in 6-inch stilettos and all black faux leather, and a feather head piece that reached down the the floor, DIVA, the transgender black man left me with this:

“Oooh honey! It’s good to get out of that box you call your mind.” -DIVA

Once I Was A Stripper: Songs by Drake and Roberta Flack, One Conclusion on ‘that Life’

22 Jan

It’s all the same. Drake’s song “305 To My City” and Roberta Flack’s 1969 classic “Trade Winds.” These two songs are talking about the same tragic dynamics of America.

What inspired this post was, yesterday, a man who I’d been seeing told me that he had taken his 21-year-old cousin to a strip club.

What I’m thinking about all of this is:

Here you are, a man who I’m thinking about taking more seriously. Intelligent, emotionally supportive. Has a passion, but I don’t know if you’re following it. You take your cousin to this club and you call me from there, we talk about our relationship briefly while you take a cigarette break. I’m touched that you called but disgusted at the fact that you’re there. This is beyond some immature insane old paradigm idea that I own you and I’m upset at you looking at naked women. No, from a real grown up, feminist, spiritual, economic perspective, I am disappointed in your choice.

Strippers can make a lot of money, as Drake talks about in the song “305 To My City,” but when you live in a society where it seems that the fields that women make the most money without a higher education degree are places where their bodies are only seen as sexual objects, you can’t argue that that is the best we can do as far as economic empowerment for women. Interview a stripper. Is she happy and fulfilled? Does she feel she is looked at as a whole person at her job? Now interview 100 of them. What are the odds now? I know most regular jobs sap the human soul. I’m pointing out that being seen as only a sexual object is a unique kind of soul-sapping. I won’t get into why, because I don’t know. I just feel it.

“305 To My City” is a song about a woman who is a stripper and has stacked enough money from her earnings to put a down payment on a Jaguar. Her parents don’t approve of her lifestyle but she is “shining on them hoes” (meaning doing way better than her peers, competitors, and friends) and appears to be in control of her life. It’s my own projections, assumptions, and judgments, but I am skeptical of the true happiness of any woman who feels she must exchange sexual gratification for money in that type of environment. I don’t think there are many who aren’t deeply hurting and ashamed inside. When I did it, I know I wasn’t happy.

But everyone isn’t me.

I knew that I could not live that kind of lifestyle no matter how broke I was. I had a loving supportive home where my other talents, besides being sexy, were encouraged. We can assume the woman had at least two parents in her life who care about her, because they think what she is doing is only a phase, and it must be damaging to her, and they want her to stop. Drake totally gets it. Him, coming from the bottom, celebrates the pinnacle of his success in lavish strip clubs, throwing money at women who, even if they love what they do, probably wouldn’t want to do it in that type of environment. I believe the sexual energy in these places is terribly misdirected.

I remember reading Jenna Jameson’s How to be a Porn Star when I was in high school.

She talked about how even if you work in a high-end club there are several physical, mental and emotional pitfalls that come with working in a club. (Tip: wear knee pads.)

She talked about how even if you work in a high-end club there are several physical, mental and emotional pitfalls that come with working in a club. (Tip: wear knee pads.)

And while I’m not referring to oral sex in that last sentence, I should be. Several women who are strippers end up becoming prostitutes. Stripping can often be a gateway job into other sex work.

This reminds me of the line from Roberta Flack’s Trade Winds…

“Young girls who’ll soon become

(walkers of the avenue)

streetwalkers in the night.”

The line, or one close to it in the song, made me break down in tears on a bus at JFK one night.

I was on my way to another job that I hated. And I thought if I must feel this much misery going to a job that I hate, yet people often respect (I was a flight attendant for the military), what more must a woman feel where she goes to a job where she is degraded by most of society? Better yet, where she degrades herself? I’m not saying self-degradation doesn’t happen in many other jobs. One might argue that almost any job can be done with at least a sliver of dignity. I have argued another side to this argument many times. You know, the “sex-worker-as-empowered-woman” side. It doesn’t fly when I remember my own experience. When you take that first step into the underground you are often desperate. Maybe not only for money. Maybe for something else, like love.

That is how these two songs are related in my mind. Drake’s bass heavy, club-ready song doesn’t glorify the profession of sex industry worker but acknowledges that it is a means to an end; the woman has made some good financial choices that have allowed her to do what many Americans can’t, which is put a down payment on a luxury car. It neglects to say anything of the degradation she may have endured while she continues to work at the club, day in, and day out. It could be worse. At least he is proud of her. From this superstar she is getting the approval of her achievements that she certainly isn’t getting from the father in her life right now.

The somber mood of Flack’s Trade Winds, with the chorus sounding like sad angels of a community crying out for its children, before they reach their sordid fate, paints just how grim the picture of coming from poor beginnings can be. It ticks off the very real ills of society that make becoming a stripper a first, or last, choice for so many women, particularly, Black women. After all, trade winds are a natural phenomenon. Ships use them to trade goods, and bodies. I’ve written about sex trafficking and it is tragic that because of factors that are out of their hands, so many women will end up being seen as goods, traded for sexual gratification by people, to people, who fail to see the innocence of their victims, and refuse to acknowledge the innocent parts of themselves.

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