Month: July 2020

Nope, It Doesn’t Need to be Steamed, Sprayed or Douched

A few years ago, I was talking with a relative and the talk turned to douches. I don’t remember how we got on this subject, but there we were, biding our time at the grownup table of a kid’s laser tag birthday party, talking about vaginal cleanliness. I was saying that while I had previously douched every month at the end of my period, I had stopped because it gave me a fire crotch of yeast infections. I had even given up the long, super-hot baths that I loved. “Wait…you don’t douche?” my relative asked, her voice full of judgment. She side-eyed me. She might have even sniffed the air in my vicinity; I couldn’t be sure. She’s only about seven years older, but suddenly I felt like I was talking to my mother or my grandmother, the women who raised me. Growing up, a hot water bottle with a hose and applicator attached always hung inside the shower in our bathroom. At some point, I must’ve asked what it was for and was told …

Black Like Lauryn: How I Went from Baltimore Beauty to Diaspora Darling

My last year in college, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was everywhere. All we listened to, all we sang. The strains of it wafted on the wind across campus. As a Black girl from the hoods of Baltimore, I played Miseducation as much as anyone else. So much, that now, more than 20 years later, I can still sing/rap every note, every word. Lauryn’s epic 1998 LP was groundbreaking, but the woman herself wasn’t new to me. I’d watched her on As the World Turns and in Sister Act II. I’d head-nodded along with her flow when she was a member of the Fugees. But there was something about Lauryn singing and being on her own that spoke to my young heart. Slender, dark, loc’d, full-lipped, rocking her Northern accent and what felt to me like matching aggression. Something about her beautiful Blackness that looked nothing like mine.  College is the time when kids go away just Black and come home BLACK. Before college, my concept of Blackness was home. West Baltimore. Relaxed hair teased …

Summer Book and Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

We’re giving one lucky winner a $100 Amazon gift card and two “literary fans” book packages that feature three titles from Penguin Random House: Mary Gaitskill’s This is Pleasure, Edwidge Danticat’s Everything Inside and Nazanine Hozar’s Aria.  Contestants must be over 18 and from the United States. To enter, you must log into the Sweepwidget module below, and sign up, visit, follow or share before the contest closes on July 30, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Full rules can be found at the bottom of the module below.

My Search for the “Oh Yes!” When Sex Was a No-No

Sexual education in my conservative, southern, Christian upbringing was strictly on a need-to-know basis: I needed to know what I should avoid. An entire sexual revolution swirled around me, giving not thought at all to my existence, yet it was I, I, who madly sought it. My curriculum was carefully curated so that I might be informed, but still avoid the rising tide of desire. Too much information would no doubt trigger the awakening of the wanton sexual temptress hell bent on besmirching my family name with gonorrhea and out-of-wedlock children that ignorance had allowed to lay dormant. I dubbed my sexual curiosity my white whale — an obsession that consumed every waking moment I spent away from the Bible or Knight Rider, sure to lead to my undoing. I had to use context clues for everything else. I asked my parents where babies came from when I was six. They gave me a splendidly clinical “a-man’s-sperm-meets-a-woman’s-egg” spiel. “How? They rub stomachs or something? Does he feed it to her?” It wasn’t until a year …

Nina Lorez Collins with her dog

TueNight 10: Nina Lorez Collins

Nina is the founder of a social platform and website for women over 40 called the Woolfer, as well as the co-host of a podcast, Raging Gracefully, author of a funny book on aging called What Would Virginia Woolf Do And Other Questions I Ask Myself As I Attempt To Age Without Apology, and the manager of the literary estate of her late mother, the filmmaker & writer Kathleen Collins…
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Black woman in a barren darkened room, looking out of a window

A Freedom Song for Black Women

Black women are like flowers in a field of kudzu. Beautiful, bright and colorful, we fight our way to the light so we are not overcome by society’s demands that climb and shade, smother and constrict our true selves. There are so many ways to be Black and so many ways to be a woman.  Oh, to throw our arms wide and embrace the expansiveness of Black womanhood!  Hundreds of years of misogynoir* — misogyny directed at Black women — have made that harder than it should be, though. Slavers insisted our foremothers were bestial, fractious and over-sexed natural-born servants. They said so in order to commodify our gifts and shame the ones who loved us.  Good White America told Black women we are emancipated, yet still believes what the men and women, who once held our chains, said about us: Too hard. Too mad. Too untameable. Too loose. Too ugly. Too far from fine womanhood. Too contrary to whiteness. After years of terror and trauma and brainwashing, Good Black America believes some of these …