As a black woman, I have experienced all sorts of ignorant comments including a comment about the difference between my vagina and my white counterparts being that instead of my vagina being pink it is just a black hole. Now this young woman who made this comment may have thought it was a joke but what I realised was that it was an ignorant comment made by someone who has never been around someone of colour. From my hair to my bottom, I have been analysed and scrutinised by women who make me feel that due to my race I am an alien. A younger me would laugh at the jokes or not say anything whilst my confidence and self esteem is gradually being chipped at. I believe that if these young girls had the knowledge they would have known that we do not carry pigment in our vaginas and that “joke” would have never passed her lips.
As I have mentioned on panels, I lost my virginity at a pretty young age. I would like to say that I knew what I was doing and it was intended, however, my lost virginity came from ignorance. I grew up in a home where the word sex was never uttered. Due to my ignorance I lost my virginity before I was ready. My teenage sexual experience was dictated by boys, who also had little or no knowledge about sex. As my friends started losing their virginity, too, we shared stories. Stories that became quite common and were our ‘normal’.
With the knowledge I have now I can say that these stories included rape, abuse and more. As adults we leave our children with little knowledge about sex because we are uncomfortable to talk about sex. Which leaves others to teach our children about their bodies. We say they need to keep their innocence. But what we are ultimately doing is handing their innocence to someone else to take away. We tell girls to wait for the perfect one, but as girls grow, learn heartbreak from those closest, we realise that there is no perfect. You see we will never know when our kids lose their innocence, it might be from losing an uncle at 7, seeing their mum being abused or watching TV. With knowledge we ultimately provide our girls and boys with knowledge to make the right decision. By avoiding the sex conversation someone else will come along and teach them about sex.
We teach our girls all the wrong things. We tell girls that our value is what is between our legs. Which allows her to put hers and other girls value solely on her vagina. When we tell girls that how we dress determines whether you will get raped or not, we are also telling young girls that being raped is their fault. By limiting and creating norms we are ultimately keeping our girls from spreading her wings and soaring to reach the sky. As a black woman who was once a young girl, I know too well about being boxed up and silenced. Aside from the glass ceiling which I was ultimately taught I never had to smash because there were bigger concerns for me such as dealing with racism, misogynoir (where sexism and racism meets) and more. I had to fight to be seen as a worthy woman who valued herself outside of the confines of a black man’s gaze and my white counterparts ignorance.
As we grow up into young women we are then thrown a curveball that we have the best part of 10 years to find a man and have children before my eggs turn into dust. Which can ultimately lead us to settling in unhealthy relationships because we never learnt about about our own worth. With knowledge we can tackle all of these myths and claim the truth that so many have neglected to tell us.
Running a community such as SL I have learnt that no matter where we come from, our background or race, we as women can learn so much from each other. I have always said that silence breeds shame. We sit in our dark corners with the belief that we are on our own and our experiences are only ours. However, there is always someone else who has or still is walking a similar journey. We can all learn from each other to be our better selves. So, by simply speaking up, you may ultimately change another woman’s life. Your experiences are lessons that can and will help another woman. I am Jannette and #ITalkSex because knowledge is power.
Founder of Sonder & Beam.