Cultural Trends/Popular Culture

Women of Color Seen As Always Sexually Available

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The stereotypes of women of color as always being sexually available show how undervalued they are, says Jaclyn Friedman in her new book "What You Really Really Want." In this excerpt, she explores the overlap of race and sexuality.

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Healing, Liberating Attitudes

For some women of color in colonized countries, getting in touch with their ancestors' pre-colonization attitudes toward sexuality can be profoundly healing or liberating. Jessica Yee, founder of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, explains it this way:

"As I have listened to my grandmothers explain to me, sex used to be sacred and even upheld as an enjoyable part of our life as First Nations people. . . . Colonization, Christianization and genocidal oppression have drastically severed the ties to traditional knowledge that would enable us to make informed choices about our sexual health and relationships. The fact is that many of our communities are reluctant to go anywhere near the topic of sexual health because it is viewed as 'dirty,' 'wrong' or a 'white man's thing.' We carry a long history of being sexually exploited, from the early Pocahontas and squaw days right up to the modern oversexualization of 'easy' Native women that permeates so much of the media . . . In generic sexual health campaigns, I often hear the slogan 'Respect Yourself, Protect Yourself'--which I have always found to be incomplete. In our communities, I say, 'Respect Yourself, Protect Yourself, and Be Proud of Your Culture'--because that last element will enable us to accomplish the first two."


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From the book "What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl's Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety" by Jaclyn Friedman. Excerpted by arrangement with Seal Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright copyright 2011.

Jaclyn Friedman is a writer, performer, activist and co-editor of "Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World without Rape." Friedman is a founder and the executive director of Women, Action, and the Media and a charter member of CounterQuo. She speaks on campuses and at conferences, and has been a guest on Democracy Now!, To the Contrary and numerous other radio and television shows. Her commentary has appeared in multiple outlets including The American Prospect, Bitch, CNN, and The Washington Post.

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What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl's Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety:

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Buy the book, "What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl's Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety":

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I have found the opposite can be true, that if you are a blond, you are considered too silly to resist sex, and so close to nature in an agricultural way that you must only think of mating. The old adage of "blonds have more fun" is a part of that, and is considered actually courageous, which is bizarre and truly demeaning of women's rights. I imagine this depends upon where you live, whether the racial slur to a woman of colour is about her supposedly wanting sex or not wanting sex, either way, she is apparently always wrong.