Not too long ago, while being interviewed, someone asked me how (or maybe they meant why) I was so comfortable talking about sex. More specifically my own sex life. That's kind of a layered answer. One, I'm pretty open, in general. Two, it's been a billion years since I've had sex. And three, when you're a relationship writer, it's kind of par for the course that the more, let's go with the word "authentic", your content is, the easier it is for folks to receive it. Where exactly am I going with this?
Well, in the effort to really drive the point home with this piece, I'm gonna provide you with a bit of a TMI tale. Recently, I watched a video from a YT channel called Cey & Jai (Jai is actually Joycelyn Savage's younger sister, by the way). The channel features a couple who pranks each other from time to time. On this one, Jai is pretending to talk to a friend of hers about Cey having a "shrimp" (talk about triggering somebody and Cey was indeed triggered!). Anyway, it caused me to reflect on a past sex partner and the first time I saw his, uh member.
Y'all, I didn't mean to yet back then, I had far less of a filter than I do now. Anyway, when I looked at it for the first time, the first thing that came out of my mouth was, "So, that's it?" I promise that didn't mean to yet oh, the devastation that was on his face. The real tripped out part is when it comes to vaginal orgasms, I've had the most with him to-date. Moral to the story—sex shaming someone is super foul and two, check out "BDE: Please Let The 'It Needs To Be Huge' Myth Go" sometime. A married friend of mine is quick to say that a big d—k ain't always all that it's cracked up to be.
So, let's talk a little bit about sex shaming, shall we? Personally, I think it's something that doesn't get discussed enough which is fascinating because I deal with couples all of the time who do it to their partner on some level—and it's costing them the kind of great sex that both of them truly deserve.
If you're curious to know if you're someone who is a bit of a sex shamer (or if your partner may be slick sex shaming you), here are a few questions that can help you to get down to the bottom of things, so that you can switch up your behavior. Because if there are two words that should absolutely never go together at the end of the day, it's "sex" and "shame".
Are You Making Comparisons?
I believe I've shared before that there's a couple that I know who were virgins when they got married (yep, both of them). They are going on two decades at this point. Anyway, one time I asked the wife if she's ever wondered if her husband is actually good in bed. She simply responded with, "I mean, he's great to me. I don't have anything else to compare it to." If you're a virgin reading this, that's a great incentive to wait until you meet "your one" because when you've had multiple partners, not—pardon the pun—sizing everyone up is actually pretty difficult to do.
I mean, a part of the reason why I said what I did to ole' boy is because I had already seen quite a few penises that were much larger than his was (check out "14 Lessons I've Learned From 14 Sex Partners" and "Sex Hacks For Different Kinds Of Penises (You Heard Me Right)"). And because, on the onset, I had a bit of a bias, it caused me to assume that just because he wasn't "packin'", he wouldn't be able to provide me with pleasure. That absolutely wasn't the case.
Again, if you've got a sexual past, making comparisons kinda comes with the territory. Still, if you're doing it so much that it hinders you from being open to what your current partner can do to make you happy, low-key, there is some sex shaming happening, for sure.
Do You Nitpick When It Comes to Their Body?
Listen, I'm a woman and I'll still be the first one to say that oftentimes, we are notorious for hypocritical double standards. Let a man "rate us" (like y'all ain't seen a Kevin Samuels YouTube video before) and it's an unforgivable sin. Oh, but we'll be the first in line to say we don't like short men, men with small(er) penises or we'll clown a man if he's got a gut or something else that's not appealing when it comes to our personal likes and preferences. How is that any different?
Is there something wrong with having a type? No, there isn't. Yet the point here is if you want to avoid being a sex shamer (and hopefully, you absolutely do), it's important that you practice the golden rule. If you don't want to feel judged or that your partner is being overly critical about your looks/body, don't be that way towards them.
And what if there is something about them that is a total turn-off like maybe you didn't realize that they are hairier than you can handle or there's some type of hygiene/personal upkeep issue that's going on? First, definitely don't bring it up during the act and secondly, still deliver your thoughts in a way where they can receive it. Be kind. Be considerate. Don't bark directives; make suggestions or requests. No one wants to feel constantly critiqued by their sex partner. The good news about this point is you have control over if this happens or not, a lot more than you initially might think.
Are Your Expectations Unfair or Unrealistic?
I like checking out what YouTube calls "the manosphere". Contrary to the assumption of a lot of women (insert eye roll here), women cannot speak for men—only men can do that. Well, something that several of them have brought up as of late is how a lot of thick women don't seem to date men similar to them. It's like guys get ridiculed if they don't desire a woman of a certain size while those same women ignore men who are larger themselves (that's a checkmate, whether we want to accept it or not).
Personally, I'm not trying to cram any preference down anyone's throat. You like what you like and I'm too beautiful to try and convince you to see me that way. All good. At the same time, though, I do think that we should be realistic when it comes to what we expect from someone. On the looks tip, why would you feel entitled to someone being in better shape than you are? And on the sex tip, it's totally unfair to want a guy to look or act like someone else from your past or to mimic someone who you may be currently fantasizing about. It's also ridiculous to think that every sexual experience is going to be like some sex scene you saw in a movie or music visual. Or like what you experienced with someone prior to your current situation.
Real talk, the best sex isn't even just about the mechanics of the act. It's about having a great chemistry, a good connection and a willingness to learn each other's bodies—including what makes each other tick—together. Expecting stuff to work out perfectly or immediately is about as unrealistic as they come. It can also cause you to put unnecessary pressure onto you as well as your partner. And that could cultivate certain feelings of shame; especially on your partner's end.
Do You Embarrass Them When You Discuss Them with Other People?
Sex is private. It's intimate. And honestly, it's really not anyone else's business. Not the extreme details of it all, anyway. And here's the thing—something that I find to be interesting about both men and women is when they don't really give AF about their partner, they will call up their friends and TELL IT ALL. Oh, but when they truly care about the individual, they seem to have very little to say. Know why? Because they value the person's feelings and the relationship a whole lot more than they do when it comes to some…random.
I talk about sex, pretty much for a living. I know for a fact that some of my past partners couldn't care less if I even mentioned their name (because we've discussed it before). Maybe it's because some of them know that they would receive the highest praise. I dunno. Still, even with as candid as I am about this topic, I'm not out to humiliate anyone.
This is definitely something to think about if you're good for giving play-by-plays with your homies about your sexual encounters. If whatever you're about to say, you know for a fact would embarrass your partner if they were present, maybe rethink bringing that up. Because sometimes shame can boomerang. In this case, I mean you might end up with someone who puts your business out in the streets too. Pretty sure that's not something that you want to ever transpire. Because…see paragraph one of this particular point.
Do You Fake Orgasms?
I know some of y'all are team "faking it". I absolutely am not. I don't know how in the world that anyone can get better in their performance if they already think that they are killin' it because I am lying the entire time. And while this might seem like an odd thing to mention when it comes to sex shaming, here's where I'm going with it. I work with couples where the wife (usually more than the husband) is sho 'nuf faking it. Some of them have been doing it their entire marriage. Others do it in order to rush their partner (because he is the opposite of a minute man, if you know what I mean) or because they aren't really in the mood. Whatever the motivation is, if you do it too long, it can cause you to become resentful and that is what can lead you to start shaming your partner—saying slick ish, making excuses not to have sex, avoiding afterplay so that you can go somewhere else and "handle yours" (again, if you know what I mean).
Besides, while orgasms are awesome (no doubt), sex can still be really good without having one (or several) every single time you engage. If you make sex more about enjoying your partner (as they enjoy you) rather than reaching a climax all of the time, both of you can feel more at ease and that can make orgasms easier to achieve. Full circle.
Are You Freezing Them Out?
You know, it's interesting that some of the synonyms for shame include confusion, irritation, degradation, self-disgust, guilt, contempt and humiliation. And honestly, I think this is the best way to end this particular piece. One of the worst ways to sex shame your partner is to say or do things that would cause them to feel any of the words that I just said—and oftentimes, it's freezing them out (making excuses to not have sex, pushing them away, neglecting their needs on a continual basis) that can cause that to happen.
At the end of the day, sex is a top tier form of communication. And great communicators strive to make the people they're interacting with feel heard and felt. No greater goal should happen in the bedroom, don't you think? Be intentional about affirming your partner. Express your desire for them to do the same for you. It's a surefire way to avoid sex shaming—on so many levels, sis.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “On My Mama” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour. So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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