Magical Thinking About Sex

PAY ATTENTION TO THE REALITY YOU SEE ALL AROUND YOU

This is the second chapter in a series of “Fantasy Island needs to be nuked; before it’s too late” posts. When discussing serious issues, it’s scary to see so many African-Americans regurgitate slogans instead of admitting the reality they see all around them. This refusal to recognize reality is why African-Americans are forming a permanent underclass in the United States. The causes and solutions to many of our collective problems are obvious. But we refuse to see them because they contradict the various ideological slogans that we’ve been hypnotically repeating for the past forty-five years (and counting).

This post is, and at the same time isn’t, about sex. In many situations, the quality of the sexual experiences that people are having and their consequences are actually proxies for other issues. Issues such as communication, respect, self-respect and reciprocity. It’s similar to how salary negotiations aren’t only about the money; the monetary figure is often a proxy for professional respect.

TOO MANY AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN MAKE BAD CHOICES AND THEN PRETEND THAT THEY DIDN’T HAVE A CHOICE

From the things that we say, it’s apparent that many African-Americans don’t believe in free will. No matter what the issue might be, we consistently pretend that we didn’t have any choice except the self-destructive choices that we make. Well, that’s usually not true. I’m fed up with hearing that particular untruth.

What triggered this series of posts was seeing a commenter at another blog argue that there was a “mythology” about African-American women lowering their standards. That African-American women who settle for man-sharing are making “rational” decisions based on the shortages of male peers in their communities. And finally, that they suffer consequences such as single parenthood, high rates of domestic violence and high HIV infection rates due to this so-called rational decision to share a partner.

Of course, various studies were invoked to buttress this argument. I was outdone by this argument. First, because I’m weary of watching other laypeople boldly run with the purported results of studies without understanding their limitations. See the following article from New Scientist, Most Scientific Papers Are Probably Wrong. Second, because anyone who has dealt with working scientists knows they use extremely cautious language when describing the purported results of their studies.

Also, the key phrase in that commenter’s argument was “male peers in their communities.” Meanwhile, there’s nothing restricting African-American women to “their” communities. Or to the numerically fewer African-American “male peers” in “their” community. African-American women aren’t marooned on an island. Many of them go to work everyday where they are literally surrounded by men from other races and ethnic groups. Some of these non-Black men have approached them, only to be ignored and rebuffed in favor of waiting for the chimerical “good Black man.” And later on, as a result of this self-created desperation, many African-American women choose to make do with inferior situations with Black men.

These are all choices. Irrational and self-destructive ones.

WHEN MAGICAL THINKING ABOUT SEX = A LIFETIME OF “HIGH SCHOOL SEX”

I can’t remember who said this, but I heard somebody make the distinction between “high school sex” and “grown-up sex.” “High school sex” is furtive, can only be done in pitch-black darkness, and is filled with shame and embarrassment. It’s generally a bad experience. “Grown-up sex” is openly discussed with one’s partner, and can be done in full daylight without shame or embarrassment. This is generally a better experience.

When women choose to have sex with men that they can’t talk to about important things (including the sex they’re having), the odds are that won’t be a good experience. There’s bad sex that is gradually improving because the partners are talking to each other, learning what pleases the other partner, and making adjustments. There’s also bad sex that will always be bad because the woman is faking her reactions and doesn’t bother to talk to her partner. And finally, there’s bad sex that will always be bad because the woman chooses to continue having sex with a selfish man who doesn’t care about pleasing her. Even after being told how she feels.

From what I hear, far too many African-American women either fake their reactions during sex, or persist in having sex with men who have made it clear they don’t care about pleasing them. Some women go so far as to marry men who have made it plain that they don’t care about pleasing them. Since many (if not most) couples have premarital sex, these women were put on notice about their partner’s selfish ways. And then these women want to play the victim of an inept or selfish male partner.

No. None of this is about sexual techniques or prowess. The bad sex is one of many manifestations of other deficits (lack of communication, lack of reciprocity, and so on) in a voluntarily chosen relationship. These women choose to live in dissatisfaction. That is their free and voluntary choice.

Unfortunately, from the things I hear, it sounds like many Black people are having “high school sex.” Even as chronological adults. Even years into their marriages. Even until they die. What a shame. Each woman needs to ask herself whether this is what she wants for the sexual part of her life. I believe that part of it is cultural due to Black folks’ mostly religion based upbringings. The Black church and the Black mosque tend to be totally and defiantly out of touch with reality when it comes to sexuality issues. Even when their refusal to give candid, reality based guidance leads to the literal death and destruction of their members.

Even with all of that, I’ve always believed that once you’re an adult you are responsible for how you live your life. As a teenager I realized that parents are responsible for people being clueless as children. But once you’re a certain age, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to remain clueless. So, even though my parents never directly discussed sexual matters when I was a teenager, I marched out and bought a copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to read about the things my mother was not telling me.

When I was in college, a small group of close friends and I sat down, bought various “The Joy of _____ Sex” books, laughed a lot, and discussed various things over pizza. There was one lesbian in the group, one guy, me, and another straight girl. We figured that we would discuss ways of approaching these conversations with our respective partners. The guy friend wanted to hear how other women felt about the various positions that he wanted to ask his girlfriend to experiment with. He seemed to be on a mini Kama Sutra quest. We gave our various reviews: “That looks uncomfortable for the girl . . . Who in their right mind would want to do that? . . . . Now, that one might be pretty good . . . “

I’ve never understood grown women who choose to remain clueless or dissatisfied.

MAGICAL THINKING ABOUT “UNPLANNED,” ACCIDENTALLY-ON-PURPOSE PREGNANCIES

Don’t automatically believe people who claim that their illegitimate children were the result of unplanned pregnancies. From what I can tell after years of talking to acquaintances, relatives, and large numbers of clients, many (if not most) of these pregnancies are more accurately described as happening “accidentally on purpose.” I’ve known several women who chose to get pregnant by particular men because they wanted to have light-skinned babies. One woman had a history of terminating two (relatively recent) pregnancies caused by dark-skinned men, and continuing the third pregnancy caused by the light-skinned man. I’ve known teenage girls who chose to get pregnant because they wanted somebody who (they believed) would give them unconditional love. Leon Dash observed a similar pattern that he described in his book When Children Want Children.

I’ve known several women who chose to get pregnant in hopes of delaying their husbands from leaving them. Of course, when directly asked all of these women and girls claimed to have been completely surprised about getting pregnant. The real motives are usually revealed bit by bit over time during unrelated conversations.

The mileage may vary in terms of what degree of calculation was involved in the pregnancy. It can range from a calculated, deliberate plan to get the other sexual partner “caught up,” to varying degrees of “I don’t care what happens and I’m indifferent/willing/eager to get pregnant.” Note that there are also males who want to get women “caught up.” The typical scenario with this is the male who isn’t going anywhere productive in his life and wants to make sure the woman or girl doesn’t go anywhere either. This, or the male wants to have a permanent “anchor” connecting him to a particular, usually more ambitious woman.

The only women I’ve known who seemed to genuinely accidentally get pregnant have been happily married women who already had the number of children they wanted. The rest of them (teenagers included) had varying degrees of calculation involved in their so-called unplanned pregnancies. Ranging from “I don’t care what happens and I’m willing to get pregnant,” to “I want a baby now,” to (mistakenly) believing that a baby will solidify a shaky relationship or crumbling marriage.

MAGICAL THINKING ABOUT HIV AND AIDS

The extreme versions of this irrational behavior pattern can be fatal. African-American women settling for jailbirds has helped spread HIV and AIDs among Black women. I’ve talked to African-American women who claim to really believe that their men were celibate while in prison. Yeah, right. Black women settling for man-sharing has also helped spread HIV and AIDs among Black women. I’ve talked to Black women who don’t require boyfriends that they know are cheating on them to wear condoms. It’s their party, and they can die if they want to. And of course, many of these magical thinkers claim surprise when they come up HIV+. Yeah, okay.

There’s another irrational game that many African-American women play regarding sexually transmitted diseases. That’s the game of playing “down low detective” by trying to figure out which men might be bisexual. Many African-American women do this, instead of requiring testing and condom use for all partners. And instead of eliminating known high-risk individuals such as (Black male) playboys, jailbirds, and dope fiends from their pool of sexual partners.

These are all choices. Irrational and self-destructive ones. African-American women need to stop pretending that there are no other choices.

[*Audience Note* Please don’t submit comments discussing sexual techniques or any other graphic content. They won’t be published. That’s not what this post is about. Not at all. It’s about magical thinking and dishonesty about sexual issues.]

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74 Responses to “Magical Thinking About Sex”

  1. thelafemmenoir says:

    Magenta wrote: “The only conclusion I can come up with is denial. If BW living in the hood were to say that they would not date high risk men (womanizers, drug addicts, ex-cons, DL men) then that leaves her with virtually no one to date. She would then be forced to admit that in order to have a healthy, safe relationship she would have to leave the hood and consider men from all backgrounds. I guess this realization is too painful and so we stay in fantasy land instead.”

    Exactly!!! Denial, denial, denial. They don’t want to wake up because the reality is far scarier. They want to delude themselves into thinking that this is “happening to them” instead of “I am doing this to myself” or “I am giving others PERMISSION to do this to me”. Much easier to play the victim.

    I know several women who are living this lifestyle, these are not young 20-somethings, no, these are 30 and 40 year old women. I have copied the link and forwarded it to them via FB and e-mail. Hopefully I will be able to dialogue with them about what was discussed in the article in an effort to get them to get out of the boat floating down deNile (denial).

    To Khadija, This post (and blog) is (are) very informative and productive and I am glad that you have such stringent guidelines in place to prevent hijacking/derailing. Your topics are always timely. (Former lurker)