On Friday, July 22, 2016 Get Smart B4 U Get Sexy partnered with UCLA to facilitate a sexual health and healthy relationship workshop entitled All Da Game: Tools to See Through Smooth Talking for twenty-six eleventh graders. During the workshop we discussed sexually transmitted diseases, contraceptive methods and the ingredients of healthy and unhealthy relationships.
The goal of this workshop was to dispel myths around sexual health and contraception and to empower the students to be able to tell the difference between smooth talking and the truth. We made the workshop fun and lively by using current memes as a guiding force in our presentation
The text in each meme was a common bedroom “line”. For example, hasty partners might say “condoms don’t expire” when they only have an old condom left in their wallet. Or another partner might claim that ‘lambskin condoms feel better and are just like real condoms’. In the heat of the moment it might be hard to distinguish a myth like this from fact without Google’s help.
The goal of this workshop was to dispel myths around sexual health and contraception and to empower the students to be able to tell the difference between smooth talking and the truth. We made the workshop fun and lively by using current memes as a guiding force in our presentation. The text in each meme was a common bedroom “line”. For example, hasty partners might say “condoms don’t expire” when they only have an old condom left in their wallet. Or another partner might claim that ‘lambskin condoms feel better and are just like real condoms’. In the heat of the moment it might be hard to distinguish a myth like this from fact without Google’s help.
To learn more about our workshop or how we can come to your school contact our Outreach Coordinator at Lasheabwwla@gmail.com.
I don’t know about you but i’ve felt sad, overwhelmed and anxious these past few days. This could be because there are videos of innocent Black men being executed on my Facebook newsfeed or it could be the ominous feeling that I always have…waiting for the next hashtag… waiting to hear that another Black man or woman has been executed by an officer and nothing will be done about it. This type of grief can be short term or chronic. Nonetheless, we must find ways to process it. There are seven stages of grief: 1. Shock/Disbelief 2. Denial 3. Anger 4. Bargaining 5. Guilt 6. Depression 7. Acceptance/Hope.
This week at Sisters of the Yam we focused on grief and identified the places in our lives where we are grieving, and the places inside us where there is perpetual grief. We identified the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that let us know we are in a particular stage of grief. For instance, some women stated that they knew that they were in stage 2: denial when they started to distract themselves or tune out/disassociate.
In many ways our grief becomes an unconscious habit. This exercise asked participants to become more conscious of the way we move through sadness, as it shows the way we move toward healing.
We ended up seeing that our ways of moving through grief didn’t always make us feel amazing or nourished. We also identified the stages of grief we often get stuck in. Some of us stay angry. Some of us stay depressed. It is important to know that these are all steps to healing. All coming closer to acceptance and hope.
Afterwards, we all made custom designed grieving plans. We asked ourselves, in ideal circumstances how would we move through our sadness, restlessness and anger? For instance, if we have the urge to lay in bed all day long because we feel depressed, how else might we honor that lack of energy. Could we take a long bath, instead of sleeping all day, as an act of self care and soak till the water gets cold. After brainstorming for a while we each shared our plans for grieving consciously.
Look on the site to see our 7 stages of grieving chart and check out our “conscious grieving plans” here:
Valuing ourselves is a key ingredient in any relationship.
When we value ourselves, we believe we deserve respect, kindness and honesty. We must know this when entering a relationship. If we don’t know this when we enter a relationship, it is easy to believe we just got “lucky,” or that we hit the jackpot by finding a person to love us. But that is not the truth, you are valuable with or without a date, partner or boo. And when you do find someone, their love and affection is a response to who You are…not what you can give sexually, financially or emotionally.
We must learn to balance the love we have for ourselves with the love we have for our partners.
I crawled into his embrace as I tried to think of us as something normal.
But in fact we weren’t even an “us” – a couple, partners or some form of a unit. We only lived in the moment together; casual friends who also happened to move together in similar and different ways through breathing, friction and moans. We didn’t have sex all the time but when we did either one of us would leave afterwards to return home, or depending on how tired we were, we would make room for the other in the bed that we had just fooled around in. On this particular night I felt more and wanted there to be more between us but knew that this fantasy could not be a reality because there was nothing more at hand. I had already been objectified, rejected for someone else by this person, but somehow every 3 months there was a text, an invitation or a social media conversation that had us right back at square one – hanging out again as new friends, getting to know each other and maybe eventually we would find ourselves in a passionate “friends with benefits” kiss.
He had told me “Damn, I have been messing around with white girls for too long; Black girls are the real deal.” I felt flattered by his compliment and it was great to have an attractive brotha-who-should-be-dating-the-sistahs acknowledge that he wasn’t giving us any love, but in the end he was only using me and my body for an exchange – for him to feel pleasure without any real commitment to me or my feelings. I thought that after this comment he would choose me, but his idea of love and relationships was only reserved for someone or something else and I was left in the shadows. After a night of hooking up and me initiating a conversation about relationships and him addressing that he wasn’t ready for one, I laid back in bed thinking that he needed space and that I was being respectful by accepting and acknowledging his needs. However, when I invited him to hang out the next day, he texted back saying the idea of hanging out was tempting but he couldn’t. Tempting? I was confused. We had acknowledged that we were friends last night,friends that may enjoy conversations and hanging out even after having sex…why would it be tempting to hang out? I thought about it with no reason as to why he would use this language except for trying to be playful. I responded, “Tempting?” His response: “I just can’t justify hanging out with other women.” “What?” Was this some riddle I needed to find the answer to? “Explain,” I shot back. To my astonishment he responded that he couldn’t justify hanging out with other women because he was in a relationship with someone else. I was flabbergasted. Had we not just spoken the night before about relationships and had he not stated he wasn’t ready? What had I misread or misheard from the previous night? I was confused, shocked and felt used. How could someone lie blatantly to someone else? We had acknowledged our relationship as friends who sometimes hook up, so why was it hard for him to say there was someone else in the picture, especially if that other person didn’t want him seeing other women. At that moment I was thankful we had always used condoms. I know that even by using condoms during penetrative sex there is still a risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) but that was a low risk we were both open to since we had previously talked about our STI testing history and current situation.
I was hurt– no lie- because I felt I had put more energy into our friendly exchanges than he had. I felt stupid and kept thinking that I should have known better, that I could have avoided this. Yes, I could have had more hindsight, but I didn’t. What did I learn? That you can’t control other people’s emotions, nor their actions. That at the end of the day we can’t put ourselves down if someone doesn’t give us the respect that we know we deserve. We can only state what we want and be prepared for the affirmation of yes, or no, and move accordingly. And that begins by not being afraid to ask for what we want.
I am worthy of love, respect and enjoying my sexuality.
How do I get smart b4 I get sexy?
By acknowledging my needs at the moment and asking myself questions to make me more aware of how I will and want to be involved with someone. Am I open to casual sex? Do I want an open relationship? Do I know their relationship or STI status? Do I prefer a committed relationship at the moment? Asking myself some of these questions prepares me before I get sexy, so that I know I am always making the right decision based on my needs and wants.
Send writing submission or call 323.290.5955 to learn more about the Get Smart Get Sexy Writers team within Black Women for Wellness’ Get Smart B4U Get Sexy campaign.
Get Smart B4U Get Sexy is a movement that wants to know how can we support one another in being smart and sexy, and to make sure that we are creating a sexual and reproductive health culture that is safe, consensual, affirming, nonjudgmental, pleasurable and addresses all our diverse needs, as we are the ones in charge of our reproductive, sexual health and well-being.
By Monica Groves
A major personality trait of many women is the “want” to be liked by everyone.
It stems from not wanting to disappoint or let down their friends and loved ones. This “want” to be accepted leads to us compromising and stretching ourselves too thin. This causes a lack of self-preservation that throws us off our center.
Wanting to be liked comes at a price; the price of your peace of mind and freedom to just BE. As I transition into this new phase in my life, I am learning to say NO. Not only am I saying NO; I am saying No without Explaining.
1. If you are called on to do favors for people repeatedly and it has begun to stress you out, say NO. Love yourself enough to distance yourself from people and circumstances that do not bring you peace.
2. If you are invited out to events at the last minute and would rather stay home or do something else, say NO. It’s inconsiderate for someone to habitually invite you to things at the last minute. It does not allow you time to prepare. Maybe your hair isn’t done or you haven’t de-haired. Now you have to run through the house like Taz trying to get ready for something that isn’t necessary to your peace. It’s ok to decline and if they ask why…don’t even dignify them with a response. You do not have to explain yourself.
3. A major thing that women do is appease; especially in sexual relationships. There are conscious and subconscious undercurrents of sexism when it comes to gender roles. In an effort to be liked and please their man, women will concede to sexual encounters that they don’t want to have. She becomes a body with no voice.
According to the University Health Center at the University of Georgia’s Consent is Sexy, consent is:
• A voluntary, sober, imaginative, enthusiastic, creative, wanted, informed, mutual, honest, and verbal agreement
• An active agreement: Consent cannot be coerced
• A process, which must be asked for every step of the way; if you want to move to the next level of sexual intimacy, just ask
• Never implied and cannot be assumed, even in the context of a relationship. Just because you are in a relationship does not mean that you have permission to have sex with your partner
• An important part of healthy sexuality
To start a change in perception, reality and action take inventory. Write down the things about yourself that you value and like and defend them. Stand tall and firm in who you are. Once you value who you are and what you are, you are less like to let others storm the citadel of your temple. The valuing of your temple is how you empower yourself. You are making yourself stronger from the inside out so that when you are asked to do something you don’t want to do you have the confidence to say no. And with confidence comes peace and that freedom from disturbance by outside influences brings happiness.
So say NO if it brings you happiness because in the end you are solely responsible for it. Don’t feel that you have to explain because you don’t need to justify your happiness.
Have a narrative or article to share with Get Smart B4U Get Sexy?
Send writing submissions to Krissy@bwwla.com or call 323.290.5955 to learn more about the Get Smart Get Sexy Writers team within Black Women for Wellness’ Get Smart B4U Get Sexy campaign.
Get Smart B4U Get Sexy is a movement that aims to end sexual and reproductive health disparities through creating a community of smart and sexy women who are creating a sexual and reproductive health culture that is safe, affirming, nonjudgmental, pleasurable and addresses all our diverse needs in order to maintain autonomy over our own reproductive, sexual health and well-being.
We cannot love ourselves if we do not know ourselves.
The Vagina is very special and a central part to our womanly selves and being so lets start taking more than a peak, exploring ourselves and knowing our power.
Females Know Your Power / Know your V Power: 7 Fun Facts
1. Clitoris = Greek for “divine and goddess like” The clitoris is only in female mammals. The clitoris is the most sensitive part of the female genitals and the only organ in the body that exists solely for sexual pleasure. The clitoris has more nerve endings than anywhere else on the body and more nerve endings than the penis. The clitoris can become erect oftentimes looking bigger and feeling hard.
2. Your vagina actually expands during sex a.k.a vaginal tenting. Vaginal tenting is when the inner two-thirds of your vagina increase in length and width when you’re aroused.
3. The Vagina is the queen of self-sufficiency and takes good care to clean itself. Your vagina does not need any special vaginal products nor washes and in fact those washes can actually do more harm than good often times causing yeast and/or bacterial infections. Let your vagina breathe and just use water. No douching is necessary! Also choose tampons without deodorant since these too can affect your vagina’s climate.
“Like the eye, the vagina is a self-cleaning organ. During a normal menstrual cycle, a woman’s vagina will spew forth a total of two to six tablespoons of blood. During ovulation, her punani will burp up one or two teaspoons of liquid discharge in order to clear the cervix of dead cells. The rest of the month, her cooter will spit forth only a half-teaspoon of fluid per day.”
– Thought Catalog, Fun Facts About the Vagina
4. The vagina is not an opening to the abdominal cavity. The cervix located at the top of the vagina lies between the vagina and uterus. If you feel for your cervix it feels like the tip of your nose. In the middle of the cervix is a small round opening called the os which leads to the uterus. The opening of the cervix is tiny and opens more during the menstrual cycle but don’t worry it is so small that only microscopic sperm can travel through. Both tampons and condoms can not fit through your os, so it is impossible to lose anything in your vagina!
5. Vaginal discharge is normal; there are changes to our discharge that occur before and after both the ovulation and menstruation cycles. Discharge can be clear and sticky like egg whites during ovulation and thicker and whiter later on in your cycle.
6. The back ⅔ of the vagina has essentially no sensitivity, which is why sometimes someone can put a tampon in and hours later, realize they completely forgot about it. The lower ⅓ of the vagina and the vaginal opening are quite sensitive, though: the outer one-third of the vagina contains nearly 90 percent of the vaginal nerve endings. – Scareleteen, With Pleasure: A View of Whole Sexual Anatomy for Every Body
7. Orgasms relieve stress and cramping. During orgasms the brain releases oxytocin which produces feelings of warmth and relaxation.
J. Cole’s latest album continues to receive deserved attention for his honest and critical analysis of the music industry’s effects on society and his storytelling ability, which asks the questions: what is success really worth and at what expense?
What stands out to Get Smart B4U Get Sexy is how J. Cole uses his music to be a point for health education; promoting condom use in his latest song Wet Dreamz with the lyrics “practice putting condoms on, how it go right?” J. Cole talks about more than condom use and shows how there is still pressure and shame involved in sexual, intimate relationships.
Males still feel shame when admitting that they are virgins/inexperienced. His lyrics show how it is uncool to speak the truth and the pressure that exists for young people to be honest about their sexual experiences. There is an idea that we already need to be pros at sex even when just thinking about it or before we have actually engaged in any sexual acts with another person. Women feel this same pressure as well especially in regards to the need to always please their partner or expressing to their partner that they are in an orgasmic stage when they may not be close to reaching it but don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings. Sex should not be a direct transaction where it needs to be perfect every time; one person reaching orgasm and then the other or both having an orgasm at the same time. In reality, sex is another journey that involves exploration and recognizing what you enjoy and don’t enjoy and speaking out on it to acknowledge needs and to respect consent throughout sex. Only through communication can sex become better and more pleasurable for everyone involved. It is the lack of communication during sex that is affecting our pleasure and increasing our exposure to STDs especially if condom negotiation doesn’t happen. We still have work to do on our communication, honesty and removing the shame and judgment from sex especially when looking to have safe, pleasurable experiences.
In J. Cole’s song Wet Dreamz not only did he take time to explore how to put on a condom properly but he also explored his body and the woman’s body when looking at porn and his other pre-sex practices. Knowledge of your body and your partner’s is important especially when expressing what feels good and expressing what doesn’t. Also practicing talking about condoms and putting them on is helpful to ensure that you will actually pull one out before / during sex.
Thank you J.Cole for adding to the conversation. Listen to his track here:
Looking for Holiday gifts that will add some extra joy for getting smart and sexy between the sheets?
The holidays are a time to gather together; to spend with friends, family, your partner of ___ months/years or that new boo that you are kinda feelin’ hella tough. The holidays are a reason to celebrate and even share gifts of appreciation and love. Some of those gifts may be the latest cool gadgets to socks or even something special to share after a sweet kiss under the mistletoe. At the end of the day if you are thinking of buying something sexy to either give to your partner, boo or whatever sweet name you may have for someone you share intimate relationships with don’t be shy about it. Remember that pleasure is a right and it’s always good to share the gift of pleasure even if that gift is intended for you. Self-care is vital and exploring your pleasure points or someone else’s is a self-care practice that can help relax and even stimulate all your senses.
Before you start exploring and purchasing let’s review some of the basics…
Introducing a sex toy to the bedroom can add some variety to some people’s sexual practices. When using toys it is always important to talk to your partner and know what you are comfortable with, how much penetration does someone want, pace, texture, width of ridges…because toys don’t have feelings so talking to your partner ensures that no one gets hurt. Sanitation is always key when introducing sex toys as well and lube is always a good friend to have to accompany the sex toys.
Sex toys are made of various materials from latex to silicone to glass or metal. Often times some people explore with non-traditional sex toys like fruits or vegetables, hair brush handles… something important to know about the material of your sex toy before play time is porous or nonporous.
|Materials: jelly rubber, latex, vinyl, wood, fruits, vegetables.||Materials: silicone, hard plastic, acryic, glass, metal.|
|Pros: usually less expensive, less firm texture which some people consider to be more “flesh-like”||Pros: Smaller in size, Easy to clean and sanitized with hot boiling water. Firmer texture is sometimes preferred by some people.|
|Cons: cannot be completely cleaned. Some jelly rubbers contain phthalates, a plasticizer that has shown to have health concerns for some people. Jelly rubber items are also sometimes colored or scented in ways that may be irritating or allergic-reactive for some people.||Cons: The firmer texture may be less preferred by some who prefer the less firm “fleshy texture” of more porous materials.Cannot use silicon lube with silicone toys.|
Butt plugs are meant to be put in the rectum and can stay in place on their own. It again is very important that all anal toys have flared ends to ensure that the toy does not get stuck / “lost” inside the anus. Some people enjoy movement with the butt plugs once they are put inside the rectum – this movement can vary in speed and angle. Other people simply enjoy the fullness that butt plugs create once the butt plug is inserted and may just enjoy the butt plugs being kept in place.
Anal beads classically are a series of small balls connected by string. These are inserted into the rectum and pulled out (many people prefer they be pulled out slowly, to enjoy the sensation). Many of these are very poorly-made, with sharp edges on the plastic balls and with porous, impossible to clean string. Some companies manufacture plastic or silicone anal beads that have a stem, rather than a string, connecting the balls. These may be much easier to clean.
Cock Rings can be used for extra decoration and also to increase the strength of an erection. Cock rings help to keep blood in the penis leading to a longer erection. Cock rings come in a variety of materials: stretchy rubber, silicone, leather or metal. For beginner cock ring users it is advised to experiment first with cock rings that can be stretched on or off or cock rings that can be snapped or unsnapped to remove before jumping into solid rings.
Dildos are meant to be inserted in vaginas but can be used anally as well. Although most people use dildos for internal play they can be used for external stimulation as well. There are both “representational dildos” – those that look like penises – and “nonrepresentational dildos,” which come in a variety of shapes such as fists, dolphins, etc.
You may see two-headed dildos which sometimes can be viewed and used as the “strapless dildo.” Two-headed dildos are often used without a harness in porn films adding to their pleasurable allure. However, many people find that the “strapless dildo” is often too much work and leaves many individuals feeling unsatisfied because the strapless double dildo can be hard to control and maneuver without it falling out. Using a harness alleviates the problems of having the dildo move out of place at inopportune times and gives partners more control when experimenting with different thrusts, strokes or movements at various speeds and depths. If both partners enjoy penetration the two-headed dildo is a toy for the dual penetrative experience.
Dildos – can be used for individual pleasure and / with partners. Dildos often times have flat bases that are meant to be held or worn in a harness, or they can have a second head so that penetration can occur for both partners simultaneously. Harness dildos can be worn around the hips, as well as a harness that can attach to legs or arms.
Vibrators – come in many different shapes, sizes, and can be used for either internal vaginal penetration or external stimulation of the vulva or clitoris. The vulva and clitoris often respond to vibration so external stimulation with vibrators can be a great gift especially when there are fun small discreet external vibrators on the market like those that look like lipstick cases. The vibrators can hit a variety of speeds and oftentimes the plug-in external vibrators can lead to more powerful sensations.
G Spot Stimulators – To locate the G-Spot insert a finger an inch or two into the vagina and press up towards the belly button – this area is the g spot and for some people can be a pleasurable area for stimulation. For some people the G Spot responds to more fullness and pressure on the area and g spot stimulators which are curved dildos or vibrators are meant to hit this area inside of the vagina and incite warm wonderful sensations.
Anal Toys – As mentioned before dildos can be used for anal play however most dildos can over-stimulate or be uncomfortable for most people during anal play so looking for dildos that are smaller, smooth and slightly curved is advised. However, if dildos do not work for you there are other great toys for anal play. With all anal toys it is important that all sex toys have a flared base to prevent the toy from being “lost” within the anus. This is crucial since the anus does not have an ending point like the vagina does with the cervix.
Want the Naked Truth About Sex Toys? Check out Sex Toy Reviews at Visit Autostraddle.com
Fun Gift Guides to Explore
1. Holiday Gift Guide: The Perfect Sex Toys for You and Your Partner
In Los Angeles and looking for a store to explore? Check out The Pleasure Chest on Santa Monica Blvd – where staff members are always willing to give non-judgmental, unbiased information to customers.
The Pleasure Chest
7733 Santa Monica Blvd West Hollywood, CA 90046
Open to 12 am daily