Luvvie Ajayi of Awesomely Luvvie is hands down my favorite (read: Only) blogger to follow for good giggles, hearty hee-haws, and daily dousings of cultural wisdom & global social advocacy. She’s bad yall…the woman is aware, hilarious, and bad. (Congrats on reaching 6-figure traffic in one day…two days in a row! Yes, you inspire me. Can I pledge your sorority? Will you be my big sister?) One night a few weeks ago, without reason or introduction, she shared this quote on her Facebook page. I felt it and held it close to me, like a familiar throw blanket.
“We teach girls shame. Close your legs. Cover yourself. We make them feel as though being born female they’re already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up–and this is the worst thing we do to girls–they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form.”
– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I first witnessed Chimamanda not on Beyonce’s Flawless, but during this 2009 TED talk, and was smitten. She’s powerful and beautiful! Her wisdom is loud, and tone of voice intended. Unquestionable queendom. Words purposefully plucked, and never wasted. I’m ready to read her critically acclaimed Americanah. BTW – Did you hear that my twin Lupita N’yongo recently obtained film rights?! Read more here.
Growing up as a sexually aware child, but also raised as a church-going southern belle, I was trained to be demure. To have feelings that I didn’t speak. To cross my legs at the ankles, to “keep my panties up and skirt down”. That my virginity was my highest value. The less I spoke made me a lady…made me more likeable. I performed. I won pageants. But I was always in trouble for “talking too much”.
I was ashamed of feelings I couldn’t understand, and for a sexuality that I didn’t request. My feminine experience of desire has been a central challenge in my life; I grew up believing that because I am sexual, I can therefore not be holy. I now know that this is far from the truth. To grow up both self, societally, and spiritually suppressed created very real consequence. Misogyny under racism (or vice-versa) is a *****.
What would it be to grow up and feel free to express my desires….ALL of my desires? To feel and know and explore and taste and consider and speak a truth…MY truth, and your’s too? To not be violated, or denied, simply because I am female? I know that I am much more powerful than the structure of the world would like me to be…