There's a thin line... between sexual liberation and sexual exploitation. Especially when we consider the potential effect on young impressionable girls.

When Miley Cyrus came out on stage with a big foam finger, licking her tongue out like a reptile and twerking her back, the public had a collective WTF moment, but feminists of all shades defended her right to do it.

Then Beyonce came out with an album that many look at as ultra-sexual, giving plenty of details about her private bedroom life and apparently some white feminists had a problem with it. Black feminists were understandably annoyed by the hypocrisy there.

(My take: I personally don't like either one being some type of representation for women's liberation. That's not their main goal. The main goal for most entertainers is to make money B.A.M.N. and to draw as much attention to themselves as possible.)

So long story short, the new rally cry quickly became "sexual liberation" for all women! But isn’t there is a thin line between this new idea of sexual liberation and sexual exploitation of women?

What's unfortunate is that instead of looking at the bigger picture -- the potential for opening ourselves up to a new wave of objectification or "jezebelification" if you will of black women in 2014 -- this seems to have turned into a "if she can do it I can do it too!" battle between black and white feminists.

Let me tell you something: if our ancestors modeled themselves after some of the behaviors and values of *some* white people in the days of slavery and even back to the Medieval times, I don't know if we would even be here. Instead, black people decided to maintain their own moral codes -- their own sets of rules, values and norms, which I believe has played a role in keeping black women resilient for many decades despite our circumstances. It's what helped blacks set up independent Wall Street communities during and after slavery and to survive the brutality of everyday life in those times.

These values and codes started to become "obsolete" in the late 1970s / early 80s with the crack era and I believe trashing those values is why the black community is where it's at today. So I'd like to know: will we trash our ideals and values as a way to seek "equality" with white women? I wonder what Zora, Malcolm X and Harriet would say about this idea?

Let me first say, women in this country are already sexually liberated thanks to the constitution. No one can come into your house and tell you not to have sex with whoever you want. They also can't tell you not to post nudes or booty pictures on your Twitter page, (although Twitter may have a problem with it). You have complete control over your own sexual lifestyle.

But if you want sexual liberation to mean that everybody will be forced to agree with your personal choices (even if they're reckless), that's not likely to happen.

Firstly, YOU define your own self-worth. If you are truly sold on being sexually liberated (whatever that means for you) what does it matter what anyone else thinks or says? Do you. Why is there a need to convince the world (particularly young impressionables) that what you're doing is A-Ok?

Next, why do some black women care so much what Miley Cyrus has going on and why do some of us want the approval of white feminists so damned much? Why are they even on our radar? We've been promoting a major BWE movement for over a decade now on our own that has turned out quite well. Isn’t that enough?

In fact, why are black people constantly seeking approval from white people period? For instance, the Grammy Awards showcased mostly white acts and blacks were bellyaching for days. You know what it is, and if you didn't know, now you know!

An article recently exposed the faces behind the music industry and they are pretty much all white and male. So are we really surprised that they promote white acts and uplift white women who act all "sexually liberated" on a public stage?

But let's stay on the topic at hand. Does this whole "movement" to publicly promote sexuality in black feminist circles source from an argument over what white artists can do versus what black artists can do? That's what I've observed.

So here is the million dollar question that trumps all of them: will we take the risk of potentially influencing young black girls to use their bodies and sexuality to get what they want in life based on a petty argument with white feminists? Will we pretend that they wouldn't be putting themselves, their future kids, their health and their bodies at risk by having indiscriminate sex with a lot of people? Will we completely let the moral code that our ancestors established for us blow in the wind? Where are we going as a people, and as women seeking TRUE empowerment that goes far, far beyond the idea of sexual freedom?

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The problem with using overt sexuality as a form of woman's empowerment.

There's a little life motto that I believe applies to just about every situation:

"Everything in moderation."

Anytime you overload on something, whether it is anger, food, alcohol or shopping, there's a problem. Sex is certainly no exception to that rule.

There's a new (or maybe not so new) brand of tweeters on the scene: women who over share on Twitter about their sexual experiences. They tweet about sex all day long... sex vines, explicit sex photos, pictures of booties (their own and others) and of course the occasional tweet that's says "just so you (the world) knows, I'm having sex right now!" Okay, thanks for letting us know!

"But isn't that just a porn account?" you might ask. Actually, no, it's something a bit more insidious.

A lot of these accounts are run by every day women -- some of whom even openly identify themselves as feminists.

I get the feeling that we have somehow found ourselves in a place where a twisted ideal of feminism is trying to take over social media: women who believe in overt sexual expression as a way to “empower” themselves. These women are trying to encourage other young women to embrace their "inner ho" (their word, not mine) and take back that word from men the same way black people have tried (and failed) to take back the N-word.

So What? Isn't it a Woman's Choice What She Does with Her Body?
Of course it is. I’m not put here on earth to judge a woman for what she chooses to do with her body and you will not ever find me calling another sister a ho. What you choose to do in the comfort of your bedroom is nobody's business but your own. No one has room to judge how often you have sex or the number of partners you have in a given day. Your body, your choice.

But when you go out of your way to publicize it, you're now making it an issue up for public consumption and discussion. Social media is crawling with impressionable young black girls who aspire to be empowered feminists and womanists, and that's where I see this as problematic. Here are the main problems I see with this new way of being "empowered":

1) It empowers men more than it empowers women. If these women are 100% honest with themselves they would admit that they do what they do not because it empowers women -- they do it to grab and keep the attention of men. Attention is the main goal here, and any type of attention is fine -- both good and bad.

As for men, they love it!  They sop it all up with a biscuit. These women are encouraging young women to give up sex with no strings as a way of being liberated, so of course men are going to sit back and become fans of this idea.

2) Having a lot of sex with random men actually takes power away from women. Excessive sex puts women in a very vulnerable place. Anyone who has had sex with even one guy knows that all it takes is ONE mistake with the wrong person at the wrong moment and you could have a world of problems. Stressing for days, hands shaking as you clutch a pregnancy test or sitting in a dank clinic waiting for results… I don't find that empowering at all, do you? And please don't start with that spiel about "safe sex" because condoms can break. If you have sex with 20+ different guys a week there's no way to know that all of your partners are getting tested regularly.

In fantasy land women can have sex with tons of guys and every one of them are all squeaky clean with nothing being transmitted from one person to another. In reality the more partners you have, the higher the chance of STDs being transmitted and other complications, so the less empowered you are over your life and your future.

3) It reinforces the "Jezebel" stereotype that has plagued black women for decades. Black women in America have been reduced to sexual objects since the days of slavery. When we embrace this identity openly and publicly it reinforces the stereotype. It's no secret that a lot of men of all races show an interest in black women because of a fetish or they've "heard" that black women are freaks. Black women who aren't down with that program have a hard time trusting and building romantic relationships with men when this mentality prevails. Also, when the world looks at you as an “object” there’s a lack of respect that spills over into other areas of our lives.

Love Over Sex, All Day Long Baby
What this all comes down to is self-esteem, self-worth and self-love. Sex is one element of life, but it is not all that life's about. Sex feeds the body temporarily -- LOVE feeds your soul all day long.

Love doesn't always just show up on your door step with a dozen roses -- you have to actively attract it into your life. If all you're getting right now is men who come to you for sex, or men who mistreat you, that's what you're attracting to yourself. You decide your life story.

So my main focus in writing this post is to reach young black women and girls with a different message from what they may be seeing on their Twitter and social media timelines every day. No matter what they say, a lot of those women are not happy -- they are searching for healing in the form of attention from men. Please do not model your life after someone who uses a message of "sexual empowerment" as a crutch. You can do much better than that!

Solution: actively seek empowerment in the form of genuine love, financial independence, emotional strength, helping your fellow sisters and having complete control over what happens in your life.


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Here are four specific scenes from American Horror Story: Coven that prove network television has a long way to go when it comes to its negative stereotyping of black women.

I have followed American Horror Story: Coven this season, partly because it has a sort of "woman power" theme, but mostly because Angela Bassett stars as Marie Laveau. Not surprisingly, the storylines involving her and Queenie (played by Gabourey Sidibe), the two recurring black characters on the show, are the most interesting and intriguing of them all.  I have to admit, I don't really care much about what's going on with the other girls in the house, yet Wikipedia still has Gabby and Angela listed as “guest stars” with an all-white “main cast.”

As good as the storyline may get at certain points, of course network television can't resist enforcing negative stereotypes about minorities whenever they get a chance. Here are four cases of negative stereotyping against black women yet again rearing its ugly head on TV, this time in American Horror Story: Coven.

1. Marie is a beauty shop owner after 300 years.
Now let's analyze this: there was an actual Marie Laveau in history, but according to this particular story for TV, Marie (played by Angela Bassett) has been immortal for over 300 years. After three centuries the only profession they could dream up for her in 2013 was frying up hair and doing weaves in a small shop? Come on man!

There's nothing wrong with owning your very own beauty shop, but for a 300-year-old character why not put her as the head of an enterprise where she empowers other women from the hood to be hardcore business women making major moves and doing her bidding. Now that would have been interesting... ahhh, if only. That's a powerful representation of black women that mainstream television will probably work very hard to suppress for as long as possible.

2. Queenie offers herself up sexually to a beast.
Near the middle of the season, I was disgusted at a scene where Queenie encounters a Minotaur beast and touches herself to sexually arouse him. The beast then ravages her and leaves her seriously hurt. Through the whole scene I couldn't help but think that the producers were trying to align Queenie  with this beast, as if they were a perfect pair -- as if they were *both* beasts.

3. Queenie is the Queen of Chicken.
It seems as if Gabby will forever be associated with fried chicken if stereotyping writers and producers have anything to do with it. In the show she starts off slinging legs and wings at a chicken shack before going to the coven house. Of course she's treated like dirt in both places.

4. Black peoples’ hell is forever having to go to the back of the chicken line.
In the show there is a scene where Queenie visits hell to talk to Papa Legba, and there she sees a long line of mostly black people waiting to be served at her chicken counter. When a black man steps out of the line to complain, he's told to go to the back of the line. Papa Legba says that that guy’s hell is to forever smell the aroma of chicken while not being able to order any! The next black woman on line complained and yelled, snapping her neck, but alas she could not get any chicken either! This all might be humorous if it had not been dreamed up by some "hipster" from Middle America who has a limited view and perception of what black people are all about.

I'm sure there are more that deserve an honorable mention, but these four stood out the most for me. To be fair, there are other negative stereotypes being reinforced about white people on this show (that they are stuck up, bitchy, narcissistic, racist, and crazy like the mother who was having sex with her son) but at least there is some balance with their images. The other white characters (Cordelia, Zoe and Misty) are portrayed as heroines trying to "save the day."

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: we definitely need more progressive black-run and written productions on television, and these are four clear examples of why. All in all, I watched American Horror Story: Coven to see one of my favorite actresses, Angela Bassett, in action and she certainly did not disappoint. But as we have seen countless times, when mostly whites are in charge of writing black characters you can bet that some nonsense will be a 'brewing!

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Where do we draw the line between sexual freedom and attention seeking behavior that debases the image of young girls and women?

I have noticed that the younger crop of feminists (18-25) are very adamant about expressing their sexual freedoms. I remember reading a story where some women were more upset about being called ladies than being called hos!

Unfortunately, this mindset has evolved into a free-for-all where even women who spread their legs for selfies are being adamantly defended by young feminist voices. They also defend twerking with a passion, even though young black girls age 13 and up are now putting on booty shorts and shaking their assets in front of cameras for likes and attention (no one sees their face or what's going on in their heads, because who cares about that right?) There are a few prominent self-proclaimed feminist voices who talk about sex and post booty shaking videos as if these things are the focal point of life for black women.

Here's the thing: as an adult you are free to do whatever you want to do in your life. It's called free will. Some things may get you some social disapproval, some worse, but it's all ultimately your choice.

But if you call yourself a feminist or a womanist (the latter is my preference) I feel that you are a part of a vast sisterhood. Your actions (and inactions) can both directly and indirectly affect your fellow sisters, especially the younger ones, now and into the future.

No matter how you slice it, a woman who objectifies her body without balance is putting out a certain energy and image to the world that can do damage to the energy and image of women and girls all over the world if it becomes the norm.

So no, as a womanist you will not find me crusading on the behalf of narcissistic selfie queens on Twitter, women who set "thirst traps" or women who purposely dress half naked to get the sexual attention of men. My goal on social media is not to get more male attention -- the vast majority of people who I follow on social media are black women because that is my target audience. That's my focus for this particular blog.

A good portion of the women who demand sexual freedom in the name of feminism aren't doing these things for the purpose of empowerment -- they are doing it for the benefit and attention of MEN, period. Let's be honest with ourselves.

Expressing your personal opinions and leanings is a clearcut human right (freedom of expression) but it could have consequences, as we've seen countless times in recent media stories.

Women should not feel ashamed of their bodies or desires, but we also have to know where to draw the line between artistic free expression and desperate, attention-seeking behaviors that don't actually benefit women or girls as a whole in any way.

A question to think about: are the ideas of womanism and feminism more about the good of an individual or the good of the many women that exist in this world?

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