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Category Archives: sexual foundations

the power of my (moving) hips

Whenever I offer an honest and sexy peek into the life of an African American woman – on stage or for the screen – responses from early audiences are largely, emphatically positive, grateful and welcoming.

“Thank you. We don’t often get to see ourselves portrayed in these ways.”

And especially for women over 40, as we find in my latest (9th, in development) stageplay, Wild + Free. Thewild and free fa profile image bronzed woman in this story is Sydney Augustine, a Creole shop owner in the fictional south Georgia town of Prairie Hills. The second half of life was supposed to be a smooth journey to retirement for her. However, after five years in this resort town, during the summer after 45’s election, smooth becomes bumpy. Sydney finds herself caught between an old flame and her current boyfriend – while the town’s white residents vehemently resist her plans of expanding her business, preferring to keep some historical secrets buried.

While I love feedback that lets us know we are doing valuable work, I am still trying to figure out why these kinds of stories are so rare. What is it about openly positive stories about sex (women’s sex) that causes such an uproar? And Wild + Free is not actually about sex! It’s about Sydney’s pursuit of what she wants in life. Sex happens to be just as integral in her life as it is in ours – and we do not make a big deal out of it – which can cause it to become a big deal.

What in the world???

I am excited about one of the takeaways from the recent hit movie, Girls Trip. HuffPost writer, Zeba Blay, celebrates that this movie allows black women to be raunchy and hilarious, creating an “exhilarating” experience that apparently resonates deeply with audiences.

“Black female sexuality has always been such a loaded concept,” Blay writes. “With Girls Trip, for the first time in a long time (perhaps not since 1995′s Waiting To Exhale), we’ve gotten a comedy that focuses entirely on its black female leads, that features black women talking frankly and openly about what kind of dicks they like, the hypnotizing power of their bodies, the healing powers of getting “your back blown out,” the occasional necessity of some good no-strings-attached sex. It’s not that no-strings-attached sex is inherently empowering. The depiction of black women over the age of 40 having agency over their own bodies, however, is.”

I am so here for that! (Read Blay’s entire article.)

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Table read cast + crew for Wild + Free, 30 July 2017

And I invite you to be here for Wild + Free as well. Like us on Facebook, learn more, consider making a donation to our 1st reading in the fall, and if you’re in/around Atlanta, check it out – let us know what you think!

“I will not be another flower, picked for my beauty and left to die. I will be wild, difficult to find, and impossible to forget.” ~Author Unknown/Sydney’s Life Mantra

(c) 2017 candi dugas, llc

ready-made man

ready-made man

There is no such thing.

From time to time I become incredibly irritated by the sanitizing of so-called conventional wisdom. It doesn’t matter to me if the sanitization is of romance or religion – in any context it doesn’t do anyone any good at all.

Too many women live in constant desire of a mate while also living in burdensome fear of the ones that cross their paths regularly. Of course, I am not advocating that we throw all caution to the wind and entertain the affections of any prospective lover. No. As always, however, there is plenty of good middle ground between the extremes.

Too many women, especially women of faith, ascribe to best practices that dictate a man be in a certain place in life before he becomes worthy of her affections. In essence, we are told to prepare ourselves and wait for the ready-made man. Just open the box, add water, and stir.

There is no such thing.

I have learned that life and being human is messy and that we cannot avoid the messiness, no matter how meticulously we try. On our best days, with our best efforts, we cannot sidestep or circumvent the natural flow of things. One certain aspect of life’s process is that there is a kind of assignment that romantic love must carry out. Romantic love has a particularly unique way of getting to the heart of matters to which we must tend in order to grow and heal. That is why when we end relationships before love has completed its work, we continue to meet the same lover over and over again, just in a different body.

May we move into 2017 without the rose-colored glasses? May we approach romantic love as women, pulling up our big-girl panties? May we be/become so secure in ourselves that we can handle the man’s growing edges because we know that together we can simultaneously support and challenge each other, going forward together to unknown adventures. May we stop looking for the ready-made man?

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

As you reflect and prepare for a new year, check out our 2016 posts:

image: pinterest

(c) 2016 candi dugas, llc

the ankles and the pussy

the ankles and the pussy

I LOVE it when a production delivers way more than I expected!

Last week, I attended Synchronicity Theatre’s production of Anne Boleyn, a revisionist take on Queen Anne’s romance and marriage to King Henry VIII. As the story is also a part of Christian church history, I expected to experience it through a theological, Protestant reformation lens. However, I was not prepared for the extent to which Howard Brenton’s (playwright) approach would affect me.

I was struck by our historically persistent narrative of the perceived threat of woman to power. We sisters today call it our Black Girl Magic. Every subset of woman has it, though, a way about her, a mystique that changes, transforms, influences, causes things to happen … and threatens. Instead of celebrating this phenomenon, the world tends to criticize and condemn it – I suppose because it cannot control it.

Henry’s (played by Brian Hatch) attraction to (fueled by his weakness for her ankles!) and I assume, love for, Anne (played by Brooke Owens) changed the world as they knew it. As Cardinal Wolsey (played by Kerwin Thompson) faced off with Anne – and lost, in her I saw all the women charged with threats to/falls of/losses of power (read the downfall of a man that wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for the woman – and/or the loss of a way of life as the people knew it, because of the woman), including: Eve, Delilah, Jezebel, Helen of Troy, Hester Prynne, Joan of Arc, Wallis Simpson, Princess Diana, Duchess Camilla, Olivia Pope … (What are the names you would add to this list?) We can actually list other women whom we know personally, in our communities, who are just a little too sexy, a little too influential, a little too helpful … for their own good.

Beautiful women's legs

And then I think about our current US presidential election and the threat that Hillary Clinton has always posed. She’s simply too smart and capable, regardless of people’s determinations about her trustworthiness. Still today, too many men seem incapable of dealing with smart, capable women – much less, able to do so well. They seem not to be able to separate us from our pussies – a term I use, in this context, to represent this magic that is always desired, yet must always be guarded against (despite Donald Trump’s and others’ misogynistic use of the word) – must always be controlled. Maya Angelou called it the diamonds at the meeting of our thighs. The thing is, though, you cannot control magic. I even wonder if the attempt to do so contributes to the conflicts and the downfalls that are blamed on woman.

This “magic” does not have to be overwhelming. I refuse to accept that men are not capable of being more holistic, well-rounded and not beholden to the ankles or to the pussy – scapegoats for a man’s inability (or lack of choice, courage) to make mature, wise decisions. Where is your magic, brother? Are you selling yourself short? Could it be that if you live fully into your magic, you might be able to meet mine somewhere in the heavens and really transform the world?

Perhaps it is male privilege that keeps men settled in being and doing just enough, that prevents them from doing the inner work that results in healthier and more balanced approaches to women. Humanity can be lazy; we don’t do anything remotely hard unless we have to do so. Unpacking misogyny, privilege, oppression, etc. is difficult and taxing, especially for people conditioned to be out of touch and uncomfortable with their own emotions and the plights of non-privileged persons.

Towards the end of Anne’s story, the overall narrative continues as Henry discards this amazing love of his life in favor of another woman for pleasure and purpose of offspring. The less-thans continue to be commodities and pawns in the hands of those who have and wield power – political, economic, personal, sexual, etc. Is this the fate of humanity? A persistent game of chance and chess, where our most intimate and compelling desires are subject to the callous and calculated choices of life that seek to maintain power and privilege?

I am not a rose-colored glasses type of gal, but I surely hope that we can more than create spaces in our lives free of calculation, that there are sacred spaces protected from such manipulation. I hope that our loves and passions can be enjoyed and even consumed without threats and jockeying for position and power. Let not the beauty of our vulnerabilities be so stained. Rather let it bloom and produce more beauty, appreciated for the wonder – and even the loss of control it can cause in our souls.

(c) 2016 candi dugas, llc

why listen to bey instead of mom* or g~d?

why listen to bey instead of mom* or g~d?

A gorgeous, wealthy pop star

without impressive traditional credentials – like an Ivy League degree

 

has never been embraced

by conservatively valued members of our community

 

as a worthy role model

to influence the beliefs and actions of our young people

 

– or even ourselves.

So, why should Bey experience anything differently?

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Image: vulture.com via Beyonce/YouTube . View “Formation” at Beyonce.com.

I am not surprised at the antagonistic comments I’ve read on social media over the weekend. Defiant even. “She will not take the place of my Jesus!”

I chuckle at comments like that – for a couple of reasons.

1.

I don’t know Beyoncé, but I seriously doubt that she’s interested in becoming anyone’s savior.

2.

I believe such adamance is an expression of a shamed and uncomfortable attraction to her work.

“Thou doth protest too much …” ~Hamlet

Even for women of faith who have great relationships with their moms and love the lessons that they’ve passed down still can find other voices beyond family and the bible, church, etc. to be relevant and valuable to their experience and goals.

Bey brings to the table an unapologetic sexy sense of empowerment that we sorely need. One Facebook friend posted that we’ve been looking for a black leader to rise up. We thought it would be Obama and it turned out to be Beyoncé.

Mrs. Carter is all of who she is. Surely, we can say that her wealth allows her to be, but she wasn’t always this financially wealthy. This daring and confidence began developing long before she had paper. In fact, these intangible qualities make what we can see and feel happen. In this way, Beyoncé is a worthy model for us to follow. “I see it; I want it. I stunt, yeah, little hornet. I dream it; I work hard; I grind ‘til I own it.” (sung by Beyoncé)

We don’t have to dress like she does or dance like she does (though that would be great if my body could still absorb the intensity of those moves), but we can certainly allow her witness to inspire us to be unapologetically free in who G~d created us to be. She’s leading in ways that traditional interpretations of G~d are not, do not. She’s able to say what most moms don’t feel free enough to articulate to and for their daughters – than we are able to pronounce for ourselves.

That’s why we listen to Beyoncé, sing with her and do our best to keep up when dancing with her.

“OK, ladies, now let’s get in formation!”

*mom – While we know that dads are present in our lives, for the purpose of this post as a response to online comments about how Beyoncé doesn’t trump a mother’s advice, we are only referring to “mom” as the parent.

© 2016 candi dugas, llc – Featured image: spin.com.

sexuality + spirituality

sexuality and spirituality: doing it differently

Each Sunday in October – live in person and online

Impact’s 2015 “Sexuality + Spirituality Experience Series” builds upon the wildly successful one that we produced in 2010. Five years ago we shared that God created sex to be good for creation and that we will not prescribe to anyone how they choose to engage or not in sexual activity. So, how do we make these decisions, the kinds of choices that help us to live with integrity within ourselves, before God and with others? Impact helps us all make these determinations by providing the tools for each person to make her/his own informed, educated and spiritual decision(s).

For further understanding, we invite you to join us this October as we unpack, affirm and celebrate what it means to be a whole, integrated person in God, one who is simultaneously and beautifully sexual and spiritual.

We are excited to share the good news of God’s love for all with our community – where all means ALL. Impact always endeavors to create safe and relevant space for worship of God and service to the world. We look forward to your joining us every Sunday in October – 8am, 10am, 12noon – in person or online (http://www.impactdoingchurchdifferently.org/live/)!

*Some content may not be suitable for all audiences.

your thoughts: feminine sexuality & spirituality

the women of black history month 2014

the women of black history month 2014

At sexNspirit you may always share your thoughts regarding feminine sexuality and spirituality. Yet, today you may share them with a chance to win a $25 gift card to the retailer of your choice*!  Visit here to complete a brief survey and enter the drawing.  (NOTE: The survey is for adults only – 18+ years old.)

You may also want to check out our latest newsletter that features a collage of all the women highlighted on our SoulSpace blog during February’s Black History Month.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

best,
candi

*The gift card must be available to purchase in Atlanta, GA or online.

(c) 2014 candi dugas, llc

the right to be sexy

the right to be sexy

I wonder how many women who marched for jobs and freedom 50 years ago and how many women who commemorated that march last weekend consciously marched for the right to be sexy.

While we may not connect the dots between civil rights and “sexy rights,” Melissa Harris-Perry connects them well in her book, Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America. To be sexy is to be sexually attractive or exciting. The right to be sexy is the entitlement to be simply so, without any biased and injurious judgments attached to this physical aspect of being. Perry frames the politics of being black and female in America with deeply moving creative works by some of our most prolific writers. Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is perhaps the most apt piece for this conversation. “[H]urston reveals how the politics of race and gender intersect the challenges of self-exploration,” Perry writes.

 Yes. Everything is political.

women marching for jobs and freedom

women marching for jobs and freedom in 1963. {image from fem2pt0.com.}

Even my coming of age is political. (Just ask Miley Cyrus.) Especially when I mature and express in a brown body, how and when I do so seems to affect a whole lot of people. It is far from a personal matter. “[B]lack womanhood makes her vulnerable to people and systems that seek to transform her into a beast of burden,” Perry interprets of Janie, Hurston’s protagonist. While most of us as African American women may have progressed from that early 20th Century pigeon-hole, our feminine bodies still cause us to be susceptible to people and institutions that strive to morph us into what they need us to be rather than ally with us to help us develop into what we were created to be. And let’s be clear that the people and systems are not just our white sisters and brothers, African Americans detrimentally police our bodies and their expressions as well. (Just ask Meagan Good.)

miley cyrus and meagan good

miley cyrus twerking (a popular urban dance performed primarily by african american women) with robin thicke at mtv’s video music awards 2013. {image from vanityfair.com.} meagan good in the controversial dress she wore while presenting a gospel award at the bet awards 2013. {image from huffingtonpost.com}

Perry argues that “Janie’s journey is political . . . because it is motivated by her refusal to accept this role.” I assert that her life-journey became political the minute that someone else was heavily invested in her personal journey, whether she accepted the role(s) they preferred/mandated for her or not. Janie, indeed, protested with a rather quiet determination to be the woman she knew inside rather than the caricatures that others drew of her, possibly so that they wouldn’t have to deal with the complexities of who she actually was.

Ladies, when we march for freedom, are we marching for the right to be sexy?

If not, we need to add this right to our agenda. Typically society brands African American women as one of three stereotypes – Jezebel (sexually loose), Mammy (asexual) or Sapphire (angry black woman). All of these labels derive from some expression of black womanhood. I don’t have much of a problem with stereotypes; I find a nugget of truthful reality in many of them. The problem is when we believe that stereotypical behavior encompasses the entire being of a person and we treat her according to this very limited understanding. Yet most of us cringe when a sistah exhibits one of these societal brands in public, knowing that her actions only serve to perpetuate a comprehensive myth. Perry nudges us toward compassion, however. “To understand why a black woman’s public actions and political strategies sometimes seem tilted in ways that accommodate the degrading stereotypes about them, it is important to appreciate the structural constraints that influence their behavior. It can be hard to stand up straight in a crooked room.”

today's jezebel, angry black woman and mammy

karrine steffans (“jezebel”), author of video vixen series {image from dimewars.com}; tasha smith portraying angela (“sapphire”) in the why did i get married series {image from imcdb.org}; viola davis portraying aibileen (“mammy”) in the help {image from zanade.com}.

Ahhh, the crooked room – one of the most fascinating correlation of “cognitive psychology research on field dependence” to a social construct that I’ve ever read. The study demonstrated “how individuals locate the upright in a space.” So, Perry explains that when black women “confront race and gender stereotypes, [we] are standing in a crooked room.” We are standing in a distorted environment that can cause us to view ourselves in an inaccurate fashion. Not all of us are capable of overcoming the distortion in order to distinguish straight from crooked. Therefore, we must judge each other with great hesitance, if we judge at all. “[W]e can better understand sisters as citizens when we appreciate the crooked room in which they struggle to stand upright.” (Cued at 12:46 in the video below, Perry explains the Crooked Room Theory.)

And as full citizens, we must march for the right to be sexy . . .

Our freedom includes the right to be physically appealing in sexually attractive ways – simply to be so without any biased – crooked – judgments attached to our brown bodies and their expressions.

© 2013 candi dugas, llc

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