To dig deep into black women’s sexual health requires us to admit that resources and research are simply not there.
As a result, a reimagined view is in order: How and where do we begin? With black women talking with other black women about their health? There's only one way to gather information about our bodies, experiences, and sexualities — and that's through conversation.
Four women shared their thoughts on what it means to stay sexually healthy. With everything that was discussed, sexual health turns into something more than just clinical. It’s not about going to the doctor and making sure we know our statuses. It’s about our overall wellbeing.
There are several things these women talked about that were very important. These women are queer, black, and from different places in the world. They challenged themselves to investigate what sexual health IS for black women today. How can we create community with each other? How can we care for each other and inform one another on how to take care of our bodies? Here are their stories:
For me, sexual health is mental health. I make sure to check in with myself and make time for myself everyday. I’m not gonna have time with a sexual partner, intimate partner, or friend if I’m not checking in with myself. So, I journal and meditate, and if I ‘m thinking about being intimate but have blocks I won’t let myself do that. Masturbation is also a huge part of my sexual health. It ties in with my mental health. I have the best time doing it and can transmit that to another person. I feel like when we’re engaged in physical sex we can make assumptions that the other person should just know how to engage with our bodies and that’s just not the case.
Sexual health is something that you have to deal with your entire life. It’s your overall l well being, your sexual tastes, how that operates on lines of race—and for me this is especially important when in a country you’re not originally from. I’m living in Mexico City right now working and I think about these things a lot when considering my sexual health. I think about where I can go to get tested and how that could even work in a place where I get stared at and singled out for looking like I do.
I think sexual health is obviously super important for tons of reasons. I think as a survivor it’s not just about getting tested—which is obviously very important. I think that’s the bare minimum though. Another bare minimum to me is communication. Without it a lot of things could go wrong. I would say for me personally, having a sort of mental health check in around my sexual connections with partners is extremely important. Basically, I have to do a self assessment every time I’m going to be intimate with someone. Having that is crucial for me. It determines the way I’m going to feel interacting with someone—that’s what being sexually healthy is. I check in with myself all the time. So, before sex or before being intimate, during, and after. I also use a lot of coconut oil. I use it with my partner even if we don’t need to use it as lube because it’s antibacterial.
I masturbate frequently. It’s a part of my overall sexual health. Stimulation is so important to me and my physical and mental health. I got out of a longterm relationship with someone who I thought was going to be my life partner. Through the end of that process I went a very long time without being touched. We were in a monogamous relationship, so I didn’t want to breech those boundaries we had set. I went crazy. There’s not enough masturbation in the world to absolve that there’s someone I care about that’s not interested in me—who was all about me previously. I had to adjust to that. After that, I went through a period of time where I was homeless—the kind of homeless where yo’ure staying with friends. I was under so much stress and to relieve that I masturbated as well. Tumblr was an amazing outlet for me as well. Through a group that was for people of color, I got to join a group.me chat. We had a lot of picture sharing and kink sharing experiences. It was such a release for me.