You ever had a hookup that made you reexamine your whole existence? And I don’t mean the pussy-pounded/transcendental type hookup. I mean the get-and-forget type hookup. The one where your partner from yesterday acts like you do not exist today. Where you are, once again, rendered invisible. When this would happen, I’d ask myself: What did I do wrong? Did I “give it up” too soon? Why don’t these niggas respect me? I’d feel like I was used, conquered, consumed, and turned into a sex doll; my body was not my own. I’d want to crawl out of it and shed my skin. Most of my hookups were only good in my imagination and sometimes in the moment, but rarely was I satisfied with the aftermath. I decided enough was enough. Loving myself wholly meant correcting my relationship with sex, with my sexual self, and with the sexual realm. It meant, for the time being, choosing abstinence.
My condition as a black woman in this world renders me consistently and constantly hypersexualized, fetishized, objectified, and lusted after. I became fully conscious of this condition at 15 years old. The Natural Hair Movement was taking off. I began to accept and believe that my 4C curls and my dark skin were beautiful; that I was beautiful. At the same time, I was receiving a lot more attention from men than I was used to. They eyed me in the streets, offered me their seats, shouted their phone numbers out when I walked past.  Sometimes I think this male attention contributed to my self-acceptance, or maybe resulted from it, I’m not sure; it was more thrilling than scary at times. First, I was ugly; then, I wasn’t. Their attention was more confirmation that I was beautiful. Over time, however, the catcalling and the eyeing, of course, began to take a negative toll on me. Most notably, I became aware that my love for myself was defined by the male gaze. When I got cute, I got cute for man. When I walked with my head high, eyes forward, hips swaying, I strutted for man. And when I became sexually active with men, I sexed with only his pleasure in mind.
I wanted to feel good and I wanted to feel wanted. I wanted to keep up with my friends; to be and act like a grown woman. But throughout my short sexually active life, I have been mostly disappointed with my experiences. There were many times when I thought maybe my sexuality had changed; maybe I’m not pansexual, but lesbian. But I was still attracted to men, and in my brief relationships with women both before and after my gap year, I still didn’t feel the amazing pleasure that sex supposedly provides. I never orgasmed. I never came.
I had to step away from it all — which was sometimes difficult to do in such a sexually perverted society and sex-obsessed college campus, but quarantine has made it easier.  (And for many, it’s made it necessary.) I’ve been using this time to reflect more deeply on what I want and who I want it from. I am cleansing my sexual energy and my sexual palette, and creating affirmations that will guide me when I return to the game with high vibrations, aligned in body, mind, and soul.
I listen to myself.
I listen to what my body likes and dislikes, and I respond to her. My abstinence does not mean I don’t touch myself. In fact, this is crucial to my quest to reclaim my body; crucial to my self-love/sex-love journey. I call it pleasuring (it sounds much better than masturbation) and I do so to affirm that my pleasure is my own. It does not belong to anyone else. Sex toys, crystals, and amateur videos are my friends. And if the mood dissipates before I cum, I accept it. My conscious mind is sometimes at war with my body, but my spirit acts as a pacifist. She reminds me, do everything with intention.
I recognize the difference between desiring sex and desiring intimacy.
This comes up a lot in conversations with my besties on our sexual and romantic partnerships. Sometimes, all we want is a warm body. Someone to hold us close. To make us feel real and loved. In these moments, sometimes we are enough for each other. Other times, I recognize and accept that I do desire a romantic partner. I take those moments to love on myself and make magical moves to bring it into existence, at the divine time.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
With myself, and later, with my partner. This is where I’ve failed time and time again in the past. I am silent. I moan on occasion. I take what I get. During quarantine, however, Universe has blessed me with a lover, with whom I practice communication. We sext. Talk dirty. Speak openly and honestly about what we like, what we don’t like, what we’re down for. I type and record in detail all the wilds things I want them to do to and with me. And I get better at it every day. Now, imagine if all premeditated sex began this way? I think I’d see a real transformation.
I choose what feels good and accept nothing less.
I allow myself to have high expectations and strict boundaries in my sexual experiences. I accept pleasurable surprises. I am conscious of the vibes at all times and I’m honest with myself and my partner about what is working and what is not. This means that if I have to walk out in the middle of a moment, I will. I obey my body and my spirit. Period.
I believe sex is sacred.
I only share my body and sexual energy with my romantic partner.
One of my besties said to me many months ago, you’re not a slut, Tolu. She was correct then and she’s correct now. I cannot separate my sexual body from my spiritual and highly sensitive emotional bodies. I cannot (when sober) comfortably engage in casual sex. To be vulnerable, to let go, to surrender to my partner, I have to know and trust them. Love – both spontaneous and long-term – must be present for me to know that they are committed to my pleasure as much as they are to their own.
I’ve been thinking of abstinence as sexual fasting, too. Fasting, when practiced correctly, can develop emotional balance, give you more energy, and detoxify your body. It’s funny how I have, in a way, returned to my religious mother’s teaching: Your body is a temple. I’m not tryna move like no puritanical Christian – by no means am I on that wavelength – but my sex has to be fun and freeing for me to comfortably engage in it. I am cleansing and reclaiming my temple during this time. Bow down.
Only those who respect, fear, and worship me are permitted to enter.
 To be honest, no nigga ever has ever offered me his seat – selfish asses. I just liked that it rhymed lol
 Some say that men are dogs and can smell a confident woman from a mile away. With this in mind, I can say that mayhap, I got catcalled more because I started loving myself more and therefore, caring for myself more, and therefore, becoming healthier, and therefore, becoming more physically appealing (to man). I been glowing though; it just took me some time to become aware of it.
 Notably, I became sexually active with men during my gap year in Ecuador – a society full of overt anti-blackness and misogynoir. This definitely shaped my sexual development, for the better, in the grand scheme of things… sex with tolu, so amazing lol
 I recognize that many people are not sexually active on my campus, or on any campus. This qualification speaks to the loud and dominant hookup culture in my predominantly white institution that is notably exclusive of black students of all identities.
 Slut is an empowering term, no doubt. I have mad love and respect for my slutty sisters and siblings. But that life just ain’t for me. I’m still a slut in aesthetics, tho, but I truly wish I could be like y’all.
 What she’d really say is, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I believe, however, that my body is my own temple.
 Quoted my bestie Blake, lol