Sexy Is….

Society has a problem with female nudity when it’s not packaged for the consumption of male entertainment.  Then it becomes confusing – E. Badu

It is highly unlikely that you’ll ever find me walking down U Street butt ass naked to prove that I agree with Erykah Badu.  But I do.  In fact I’ll take it one step further,  I believe that our society has a problem with female sexuality PERIOD when it’s not packaged for the consumption of male entertainment.

As women, how often do we challenge ourselves to define sexy, not in the context of what men think but instead in the context of how we feel?  We spend thousands of dollars and countless hours trying to recreate this image of  “sexy” that was originally created for men by men.  And if that weren’t enough we’ve allowed ourselves to be conditioned to believe that being consumed by men is in some way empowering to women.  To suggest otherwise is often quickly dismissed as feminist rhetoric by both men and women alike.

This question of defining sexy on our own terms was the topic of a conversation a few months back during a Q & A session after a performance of Giselle Mason’s play,  Women, Sex & Desire: Sometime You Feel Like a Ho, Sometime You Don’t, I asked her about the short video shown during intermission that featured the all female cast in various forms of dress engaged in random activites.  She explained that the piece was a montage of home videos recorded by the cast doing things that made them feel sexy.  The biggest challenge to that piece, she admitted, was getting the actresses to express themselves without concern for what they believe men or society at large find sexy about them, to take control of their own image and sexuality.

That got me to thinking about how I define sexy.   Can I honestly say that my definition of sexy is not influenced by what the media or the man in my life considers it to be?  A decade ago the answer would be undoubtedly “no”.   Back then I truly believed that sexy could only exist within the context of what “he” thought.  I belived that we both deserved to enjoy certain parts of our relationship but mine was for him and his was for me.   If he thought high-heels were sexy, then I wore high heels.  If he thought the color red was sexy, red it was, even if I didn’t really like red all that much.

Thankfully as we get older and slightly more mature we begin to realize that the greatest gift a woman can give herself  is the freedom to take control of her own sexuality by embodying it in a way that makes HER feel good.  That’s not to say that we shouldn’t desire to be  desired,  of course we should, that’s a natural part of being a woman but instead of trying to re-invent ourselves everytime a new guy with his own tastes (and hang-ups) comes along, we should celebrate our authentic expression of sexuality in a way that will attract the right man – the one who digs us just the way we are.

In the meantime, we should consider what Erykah is trying to say.  Whether you agree with her tactics or not, you can’t deny that by taking control of her body and the way that it was presented to the world her actions were in stark contrast to the countless women who are being held captive by an industry that wouldn’t dream of giving them that choice.


So, I ask you,  What does sexy mean to you?

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