Will millennials rewrite the rules about sexuality? Can we?
Despite the everyday-is-Throwback-Thursday ‘90s obsession that has influenced #theculture for the past five or so years, it’s totally possible that some of you have never heard the song that inspired the title of this article.
Salt-n-Pepa’s “Let’s Talk About Sex” kicked the gospel of ‘sex positivity’ long before it was a trending topic, encouraging women to prioritize pleasure, demanding that men respect this, and urging everyone to behave responsibly in the process. It was hella preachy, sure, but it was a powerful call for folks to have some difficult-yet-important real talk “about all the good things/and the bad things” surrounding sexuality.
Nearly 30 years later, cultural attitudes about sex certainly seem more progressive. The visionary rap group birthed a whole lot of musical children—daughters and sons, too—all of them freer in the wake of more open sex talk.
On today’s hip-hop scene, it is a former stripper—Cardi B—that has emerged as the people’s Cinderella and is beloved by the ‘hood and the bougie brunch set alike. Evidence of a sexual evolution abounds—Frank Ocean, Syd the Kid and Young M.A. resist heteronormative industry rules and do not change the pronouns of people who inspire their desire simply to make audiences feel more comfortable. Yes, something has evolved.
It’s not just music; in certain spaces, women, girls and LGBT folks have more lanes than ever to be honest about their own sexual habits, wants and needs. Porn has gone relatively mainstream; thanks to the internet, it’s no longer a dirty secret. And while social media has given birth to new and terrible forms of sexual harassment and abuse (and an increased ability to perform the old school ones), it has also allowed us to have important dialogue about sex that is poised to break barriers and liberate. In fact, as both explicit photos and chatter about bodies, boning and behavior take over social media, your #WCW might have posted a #fortheD rhyme a la Erykah Badu, Issa Rae and Gabrielle Union.
But in the many real life places where we still lack a collective ability to talk openly about sex and desire (like, say, church, home or school), our individual ability to really understand power, control and consent—especially among men—is only troubled. Maybe what’s missing from the critical #MeToo conversations is the consideration that not many of us have the education or language necessary to engage others safely. We’ve got access to crazy prophylactics, but we also need tools that can also protect us from the contagious consequences of ignorance.
Fam, we still need to talk about sex—urgently and honestly. Women and girls are still held to different standards than men and boys, people of color are still prohibited from accessing the same freedoms as whites. In spaces where diverse sexual identities are celebrated, the actual act of sex when performed by LGBT folks is still often treated as a source of curiosity or shame. Access to reproductive health services remains elusive for many and under threat for most everyone else. Rates of sexually transmitted disease and infection in our communities continues to be devastating.
For the November/December issue CASSIUS explores ‘dating and mating’ and sex, sex, sex. We chilled with DeWanda Wise, the star of Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It, a Netflix series based on his 1986 film of the same name—a complicated and controversial tale of a young Brooklyn woman who wrote her own sexual rules and dared the world (and her rotation of lovers) to challenge them.
Speaking of rules, we’re ready to rewrite them; our latest Group Think convo features men debating ‘body counts,’ double standards and threesomes. Hilarity ensures.
Are Millennials(TM) are equipped to revolutionize America’s relationship to sex and sexuality? Perhaps not, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. As a generation, we are tasked with putting forth great effort and intentionality in how we speak about sex, how we approach our own sexual behaviors, how we respond to those of others, and how we create space for all around us to be free to f*ck—or not—as we see fit.
Join the conversation by shooting us a Tweet @CASSIUSlife, and use the hashtag #datingxmating.
Ho, ho, (no such thing as a) ho, y’all.
VP of Programming/Chief of Affections