My Life Be Like, sexperts

Intersextional Thinking: Did Society Break my Pussy?

IMG_7161As I sat in my living room thinking about the last time I had the urge to have sex, I couldn’t help but wonder if society was responsible for my “broken pussy.” I know this may seem a little far-fetched, but this is a real question I had to ask myself! The “broken pussy” concept is an exaggeration (inspired by one of my role models, Issa Rae) that I used to describe the irregularities in my sexual desire. With the stress of school, my relationship, and financial struggles that accompany having low income, sex just wasn’t on my mind. On top of that, it felt like I was always on guard because I was worried about being a minority in every space. I was one of the few Black people in my class and the ONLY Black educator at my residency. On a staff of four, I’m the only one that struggles through period pains. You’d think I’d find relief once I got around my friends, but even with them, I’m the lone lesbian. Living life with the identities of Black AND a woman AND queer gets hectic.   

I sometimes describe my experience as a singular person with multiple interconnected identities as baking a cake. Recipes traditionally require one to combine ingredients such as flour, eggs, butter, and milk before baking at a certain temperature. The result is a completely different item; it is impossible to deconstruct, impossible to return to its original form. Imagine how stressful it would be to attempt to distinguish the egg versus the milk components after baking the cake. One can spend hours fixated on the qualities that create the fluffy texture or perfect flavor. The frustration that results as time passes and stress increases can present both physical and psychological problems that impact aspects of the individual’s entire life. The same occurs when queer Black women move throughout a world that continues to oppress them based on their intersecting identities (Black x woman x LGBTQ+). The stress of managing microaggressions can even impact an individual’s biological functions which can manipulate sexual response (hence, my seemingly “broken pussy”).

Kimberle’ Crenshaw, the woman who coined the term intersectionality, describes her experience as a Black woman as existing within the overlapping margins of race and gender as well as the spaces in between. This accurately describes the space many Black women, myself included, have found ourselves. Ever too often we [Black women] are expected to defend sexist Black men against racism or advocate for gender equality next to racist white women. The experience of existing as a Black lesbian comes with its own stigmas attached. I cannot count how many times I’ve had to go back and forth with a heterosexual person about the validity of my orientation. People love saying things like the following: “Oh you’re just going through a phase.” “You haven’t met the right man yet.” “What can a woman do for you anyway?” “Oh you like girls, let’s have a threesome.” It’s exhausting! It is not surprising to learn that intersectional experiences can trigger stress responses.

Anxiety and Sexual Response 

Queer Black women’s role in representing, defending, and supporting three marginalized communities potentially causes increased anxiety, depression, and insomnia. A study conducted in 2017 revealed that mental health disparities and substance use were frequent in individuals that also reported a series of stressful life events. Anxiety has a powerful role in regulating, initiating, and preventing biological functions (like sexual response). In the sense that a queer Black woman wanted to reproduce, her past experiences with anxiety, that may come as result of chronic stress caused by how the world responds to her identities, can be critical factors. As queer Black women balance racial microaggressions, hypersexualization, and attempts at erasure, they [we] must simultaneously prepare for the negative results that accompany the anxieties caused by simply existing. 

The sexual response cycle welcomes some anxiety, but too much impedes sexual arousal. Women who experience chronic stress show higher levels of cortisol over time which in turn decrease libido. This is where things get confusing (and annoying) for me; someone else’s opinion on who I should be or should love impacts how often I want to have sex. That’s baffling! I’m supposed to make those decisions! What happened to “my pussy, my problem?” No individual other than myself, should feel entitled to patrol my actions.   the sooner society stops expecting certain behaviors out of people, the sooner my waterfall can get back flowing. 

 

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