When I decided to start my blog, my purpose was to create a shared emotional outlet. When I began divulging my sexual exploits, I strapped on my seatbelt and got ready for the ride. When I made public my herpes status, I braced for impact. I knew very early that my views and progressive ideas about sexuality, sexual health, and inclusion would not be popular, and I didn’t care. I stopped caring about what others thought, and I focused on telling my story. I told my story for myself and those who needed to hear something different, something new and inspiring.
With every story, every blog, and every interview, more and more people reached out to me and congratulated me for being the voice they couldn’t find. I’ve since picked up the torch, with other sex-positive activists, to push and correct the language for change. Every day we’re posting, tweeting, blogging, and podcasting for proper and thorough education regarding sexual health and STI stigmas. We know that the road ahead is long, and we continue to rush against the tide. I take pride in what I do, and I maintain a positive outlook, even in the face of nay-sayers. However, last week, I found myself having to check a bitch!
To be clear, I use the word bitch the same way the late great Bernie Mack used the word “Mother-fucker” in The Kings of Comedy. The word bitch is used as a noun to describe a person, a place, or a thing. And by my definition, these people were complete and utter bitches.
On Facebook, I’m a member of many sex-positive, polyamorous, and swinger group. These groups exist as a safe space for both new and veterans of the lifestyle to meet and engage with like-minded individuals. The groups are regularly a sex-positive space that exists without shame. So, imagine my surprise when a group member decided to screenshot comments from a post, repost them on their page, and use it to further perpetuate an already existing negative and inaccurate stigma.
A close FB friend of mine alerted me to a gentleman that used my public position on being herpes positive to sex shame by writing, “It’s all fun and games until you catch something.” Of course, he posted this in a group that I wasn’t a member of, so I joined the group and addressed him directly when it was brought to my attention. For what it was worth, the group people actually attacked him for trying to shame me; kudos to them. But I wanted to know what his goal was? He claimed that he didn’t like promiscuous people, and he thought that was a good enough excuse. I took the opportunity to inform him that many people who find themselves STI positive (especially when it came to herpes) were anything but promiscuous.
The kids living with herpes (acquired through a kiss from their parents), to the victims of assault and rape, to the people who didn’t know their partner’s cold sores caused a threat, and the people whose test results didn’t include herpes. There are many ways a person can get an STI without being promiscuous. He continued to debate me with opinions, despite my facts, but I was relentless. He claimed that he was just trying to get the information out there, and I told him he could’ve done that without adding his little flair. When the conversation got too heavy, and he realized that he was in an unwinnable fight, he flipped the switch and commenced blaming the women he stole the post from.
In full transparency, he wasn’t in the original group where the comments were screenshot from. It was a black woman in the (polyamorous, swinger, sex-positive) group that took it upon herself to screenshot the comments and repost them on her page, and he copied them from her. As black women, we are already oppressed. As black women who are sex-positive, we are double oppressed. It never ceases to amaze me how people who already exist in an oppressive society will find empowerment in oppressing others. I went on her page and couldn’t find the actual post, but from her ill-informed followers’ comments, it is evident that sex-positive activists had A LOT of work to do to break the stigma.
As much as he tried to deflect from the virtual ass-whooping I was serving up, he was right that I should re-direct my energy to her. But before I do, I had to make it clear; I didn’t care to change his mind. Truth be told, I never go out of my way to change the minds of those who have their heads buried in the sand. I only ever comment to reach those struggling with their diagnosis, know someone who is struggling with their diagnosis, or be a voice for those who (years later) need to remember seeing my comments, to see that they are still loved. I do it to empower, NEVER to shame.
Now, onto Bonita (aka Black Becky), your ignorance runs through your veins. The fact that you saw fit to try and shame a person who is already public about her herpes-positive status shows not only how immature you are but how desperate you must be for attention. I’ve looked through your Facebook, and you’re all over the place; you reek of someone incapable of thinking for themselves, and your followers are no better. I’m sure that you and over half of your negative commentators genuinely believe that they “know when a person got something,” despite the fact that you, or them, have probably NEVER seen the full STD panel test of your partners. You’re ill-equipped with the knowledge and ability to have the conversation, and you gloat from a position of sheer-luck and blind-faith.
In closing, I’ll say this. You are toxic. The rhetoric you perpetuate is toxic. And the fact that you tried to infiltrate a sex-positive space only to shame others is toxic. I pray you get all the help you need and that you don’t find yourself facing the same ridicule you tried to place onto others.
Bitch, You tried it!