I cannot pretend that I have ever officially declared myself a feminist or even a womanist. What I do know, however is that men folk have entirely too much to say about what women folk do in front of and behind closed doors with their bodies. In particular, black women and it begins as black girls begin their ascension into womanhood.

In space after space and in mouth after mouth, black women’s bodies are disdained for their beauty while being admired for their grace. Black women’s bodies, young and old, are scorned while being fetishized. Their parts, our parts are picked apart while being feasted upon by the male gaze, yet degraded and demeaned when the women herself oozes confidence and loves her body openly and freely. This juxtaposition between how a black women’s body is viewed to be and how it actually is places black women in an impossible conundrum of inequity. In other words, damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

For example, men want a sexually advanced partner in the bedroom that turns him out and is open to trying new things but shouldn’t have been too sexually involved with men as to avoid a high body count, so she can still be marriage material. How sway? This is not to say a woman cannot be fearless with her body without sleeping with a lot of men, but why is this responsibility on her head and hers alone? What I am saying is it takes time and experience for many women to become fully comfortable with their sexuality. Yet this unrealistic expectation comes from a society that demonizes teenage mothers and unwed mothers while ignoring the fathers and then chastises the young women again for being so irresponsible as to choose the wrong guy. Again, how Sway? But unlike Sway, I do have the answer: let girls be girls and women be women. Let us live. Let us breathe. Let us be the fearfully and wonderfully made creatures that we are. Simply put, by my girl Janelle Monáe, ‘get off my areola’.