Tag Archives: F. N.

Sistas’, Sex, And Our ‘Do – By F. N.

Doin’ it and messin’ up my ‘do

I was reading a memoir today and the author was telling a story about this time at a sleepover when she had to “sleep pretty.” You know, that thing when you have to catch some zzz’s but you lie deathly still on your back and don’t move your head on the pillow cos you just got your ‘do did? Or you’re with a new guy so you couldn’t wrap your hair up in front of him but you don’t want to wake up looking like Buckwheat? We talk about hair and sex so much as black women. But rarely the two together, which is kinda weird. I don’t know about you but my hair has always had a starring role in my romantic relationships.

Back when I had loose natural hair, in the middle of hot and steamy foreplay, suddenly a thought would cross my mind: “Yo, could I get a yeast infection from my boyfriend fingering me, after his hands had been all up in my afro — which contained no less than five store-bought hair products?” “Is Taliah Waajid Lock it Up Gel safe for coochie consumption?” The thought would pop into my head and refuse to leave. I’d be enjoying the fingering but trying to map out where the nearest Walgreens was, just in case a chick needed to get some Monistat. If I wasn’t asking myself sex-related hair questions when I was getting it on, I was wondering how dude felt about some aspect of my hair: Did he like how it felt? Would he mess up my twist-out or tug too hard on my Marley braids? The first time I kissed my college boyfriend I had wood smoke in my braid extensions (from a barbeque gone awry). I remember crossing my fingers that he wouldn’t smell it.

As that relationship blossomed, my hair would become part of the foreplay. After I’d worn those smoky Marley Twists for a couple of months, my ex helped me take them out. Every time he pulled a braid extension off and liberated a lock of my real hair he would slide it between his fingers, slick with oil and dirt. Then he would make this satisfied sound like he’d eaten something yummy. Seated on the carpet between his open thighs, my heart and my coochie would swell at the same time. I would get wet as hell. Even more smitten. A dude who could take out some Kanekalon? I was going to marry this man. The moments of doubt only set in that summer when my well-moisturized coils left coconut oil stains on the very expensive pillows in his parent’s house, and both of us were scrambling figuring out what to do. And the time when I took out my braid extensions on vacation, and his white mother saw me go into the bathroom with twists and come out with a matted afro, and looked like she had been caught in the matrix. And he thought that was both racist and hilarious.

He himself, didn’t really care what state my hair was in. But I did.

As sistas, hair carries weight with us. And we take that weight into the bedroom. Don’t we all know a couple of girls who can’t relax during sex because they are too busy trying to keep the guy’s hands out of their weaves lest it snag in a track? I’ve talked to sistas who won’t have sex unless they are on top, because they don’t want to risk their wig shifting or coming off in some acrobatic position. I have some loc’ed friends who prefer to have sex with their hair wrapped up and out of their eyes, but wear their hair down because the guy begged them to — he’d always had a fantasy about being ridden by a Rasta girl with thick ropy dreads swirling around her face. There are undoubtedly some naturalistas who won’t take a shower with a man because they got those big Tracy Ellis Ross curls from a perm rod set and the water would snitch that they actually have 4c hair. I know girls who wait until the guy falls asleep before they put on their bonnet and wake up before him so they can take it off. And everyone, from women in my family to girlfriends from school, has a story about getting a set of cornrows or braid extensions that snatched their edges so tight they couldn’t even make out because their whole face hurt.

But the truth is we don’t just care about our hair because we’re frivolous or have too much time on our hands. We care because our hair has such a politicized history. How we wear it has always dictated how the world judged us, what kind of jobs we got, what kind of men were attracted to us, what our dating pool would be, how “woke” other black people would say that we were.

That’s a tough road to hoe. But my dream is a world where we love and accept ourselves enough that we don’t define ourselves by our hair. We don’t let it dictate how pretty or desirable we feel. We don’t let it limit our capacity for sexual pleasure in the bedroom or deprive us of opportunities to be adventurous. We find sexual partners who make us feel desired in all ways; sexual partners who could not care less if their hand got caught in a track, if the wig fell off, if our locs are up or down, and who have absolutely no hierarchies for hair type, hair length or hair health. People who don’t let what we have on our heads be the basis for whether they are attracted to us or want to be seen with us.

So, this is your homework for the future: Next time you’re in the hair-shop and you can feel shit about to hit the fan, woman up and tell the chick in the doing your ‘do that her braids are robbing you of your edges. No matter how much she tries to convince you that they will soften up, insist that she loosen them or take them out and do them over. Don’t leave that hair-shop needing an Advil. And find lovers who won’t even fuss about not getting any that night, because they understand how much your unrequested facelift hurts and sympathize with the fact that your brain is on fire.

The Crimson Conversation – By F. N.

I love sex on my period. When I say this I frequently get gasps or disgusted looks. There are a few women who admit to me on the sly that they are down for the merlot mambo as well but generally in polite company it seems like most women are fairy adamantly opposed to period sex. I didn’t know I would be into period sex. I was raised in Ghana and the stigma about all things vaginal is as alive and well there as it is everywhere else. I’ve never thought my period was disgusting but I had been taught that it was women’s business, which the rest of the world should not be subjected to. I internalized that to some degree until I grew up and started to know better.

My periods are rough. I have always bled like an inmate who had just been shanked.  I have always suffered from bad dysmenorrhea. My cramps were legendary. I remember in Class Five, shortly after I got my period, I would put my head down on my desk and sob during my menses because the pain was so bad. The other kids would ask what was wrong and I would have to tell them it was a tummy ache or a migraine because I was the only ten-year old with a period and I knew I would be taunted relentlessly if they knew that. Sometimes I had to miss school because of cramps and I would lie and say I had had malaria. Being taught this reticence concerning my period, and being in pain when I was on my period was probably the only real source of animus between me and my body. I hated the hiding, I hated the pain, I hated the blood clots, and my period lasted for about seven days so a quarter of my month, every month, was spent dealing with discomfort and engaging in subterfuge. But the one thing I never thought was that my period was dirty or I was dirty when I was having it. And once I was older and realized that protecting the fragile sensibilities of men from having to see women as anything but pristine, delicate flowers was bullshit and I needed to not participate in it I stopped pretending I didn’t have my period if I did and stopped masquerading my period pains as something else.

I am lucky enough to not be one of those women who feels bloated, nauseous, emotional or irritable during my period. Physical touch during my period doesn’t make me cringe. I realized that during my period I was more sensitive to touch. Kisses felt different, getting wet was more intense. But I still never imagined that I would enjoy period sex until I was extremely horny one day towards the end of my period. I couldn’t stop myself from masturbating with my vibrator and I knew it wouldn’t be messy because there was barely any blood. It felt amazing and more importantly it helped with the cramps. Soon, as least once during the duration of my period, I cranked out a vibe and rubbed one out. Then I would wash and sanitize my vibrator when I was done.

But I still didn’t expect to start having sex with another human being on my period. I knew a lot of men who were grossed out by any kind of blood. Patriarchal conditioning makes it such that even men who are not grossed out by blood from cuts and scrapes somehow feel like once the blood is coming from *gasp* a vagina it somehow becomes a different category of blood. So I knew how guys felt about it and even I couldn’t really imagine, with how wet I got and how much blood I envisioned would get on the guy, that it was something that was possible. But my first boyfriend and I were addicted to each other. And somehow one day we were getting frisky and I said I was on my period and he said he didn’t care and we got busy. And I loved it. From the beginning of the foreplay the pain in my lower abdomen was being offset by a different sensation. By the time my guy slid into me I was so wet the blood there had gotten all silky; the entire time we were knocking boots it was like I was high. In the beginning my boyfriend and I had sex mostly at the beginning and the end of my period when I wasn’t bleeding like I had been the victim of a drive-by shooting. But after a while we didn’t even care.

I wasn’t wearing pads anymore so when it was time for penetration I would just pull my tampon out, wrap it in tissue, put a towel on the bed and get my Vitamin D. When it was over I would put the tampon in the bathroom trash, throw the towel in the washing machine and go about my day. When my relationship with that guy ended I asked the next person I was dating how they felt about period sex and though they said it wasn’t their thing and they could just wait until my period was over, once we actually started having sex they couldn’t go seven days without the cookie and were the ones who suggested we just put a towel down and get busy.

I know period sex isn’t for everyone and some people have genuine issues with blood of any kind. I don’t recommend period sex to those people. I know women who just can’t stand any physical contact during their period. I don’t recommend period sex for those people either. I know women who like having a break from sex and enjoy the reprieve from sexytimes that their periods give them. They are not the target audience of this article. I know yet another group of women who just don’t think what they get out of period sex is high enough to make up for the trouble you have to go to to have it; the cost-benefit analysis just doesn’t work for them. This discussion is not for them either.

This is for the people who either have and enjoy period sex or haven’t ever tried it just because… reasons. The foremost reason is usually that they just find it vaguely taboo. Or they are really hesitant to suggest it to a guy for fear the guy will think they are sort of gross. While there are some infantile men who don’t hate blood but just have internalized misogyny about vaginas and any of their processes, what I have discovered in informal polls of my male family and friends is that a lot of men really don’t mind. As long as after they are done they can clean whatever blood gets on them they are fine. A couple of guys I’ve talked to actually prefer period sex to regular sex because the blood acts as a lubricant and it makes them feel as if their partners are extra wet. Their partners’ nipples are usually more sensitive at that time of the month which makes the foreplay extra rewarding.

So if you haven’t had period sex and find yourself curious about it here’s what to remember:

  1. The bleeding lessens greatly once you get aroused and start having sex so you don’t really have full-on geyser action while your partner is inside you. Any blood that you see is usually just the residual blood that was already in your vulva mixing with your vaginal arousal wetness.
  2. Period blood doesn’t smell bad. It has a faint, coppery smell — sort of like a bag of pennies. During period sex you can sometimes smell it. Don’t panic. He’s not grossed out and you shouldn’t be either.
  3. If you get a ton of blood clots you might want to take the pad off or the tampon out and wipe your junk down before you get busy. If you don’t he might get a little stuff on his junk. It’s not traumatizing but either one or both of you might find it a bit much.
  4. If you wear tampons don’t forget to wrap them in something when you take them out. Just putting them on the nightstand or tossing them on the carpet or whatever can get blood on your things, which will be annoying.
  5. Having him slowly pull the tampon out, tease you by tugging on the string and pushing it back in a little till it feels like you’re being fingered with a tampon, or having him caress your clit with the tampon still in, can be an excellent part of the foreplay.
  6. Don’t ever forget to take the tampon out before you start penetrative sex, or his thrusts can push the tampon all the way up your vaginal canal. It will be extremely unpleasant trying to get it out. You might have to make an embarrassing visit to the E.R.
  7. If for some reason you are too rushed to have a shower afterwards, taking a soapy washcloth, doing a quick scrub of your nether regions, rinsing the washcloth out and cleaning off all the soap, will get rid of all blood and all smells.
  8. If your guy is the brave kind and wants to go downtown while you’re on your period, keep the tampon in. If you usually wear pads put a tampon in or plug your vulva with some cotton or tissue.

Period sex can be really fulfilling. It can reinforce closeness between you and your partner because you’re not taking those three to seven day breaks in your sex life. It can make you more comfortable with your own body and the things it does, and make you feel more connected to your womanhood. It can destigmatize women’s bodies for men and help them get rid of all that internalized b.s. It can help with your cramps. But most importantly it can just feel really effing good. So my suggestion, dear sistahs, is to have the conversation, with yourself, and with your partner, and take a shot at riding that crimson wave.

F.N. is a thirty something Ghanaian free-lance writer who alternates between living in Accra and Washington, DC