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Wow! You Were A Real Slut!

Several years ago, I was engaged in a conversation with a group of women whom I’d known for a while. There were seven of us at a table in a trendy restaurant in Chicago. We sat talking, over lunch, chatting about what was new…sharing updates: Someone was promoted. Someone was planning a move to a new city. Someone was breaking up with her boyfriend. Someone was meeting a new boyfriend. Someone was noticing her parents getting a bit frail. Someone was interested in buying her first house. Regular topics.

 

There were a few new people in the mix. Two women were friends of friends and were meeting for the first time. After a few rounds of drinks we started to get familiar. Somehow, we started talking about our pasts. Past relationships. Past terrors. Past problems. Past situations. Past habits. We started talking about t/Terrors.

 

The conversation was not edifying.

 

It wasn’t not edifying because of “past” topics. It was not edifying because of the posturing and performances that came with the topics. Perhaps you know them by the sayings that accompany them:

  • Girl, please. You know I would never do that. Puhlease.
  • Uhn uhn…no she didn’t! She should know better! That’s just stupid.
  • That situation is a hot mess. It wouldn’t be me. I don’t get caught up in drama.
  • He did what?? I would never settle for that nonsense. Never. Never. Neeever.
  • Iowno, girl…I just don’t have those kinds of hang-ups. Call me lucky, I guess.
  • See. That right there? That’s a woman who don’t know how to handle her business. She’s just dumb.

 

Regardless of these performances, one of the new sisters really started to contribute meaningfully to the conversation about t/Terrors. She politely offered her testimony about making it through a particularly painful time in her life. She recalled how she’d spent years sleeping around. She had sex with every man who asked her out, anyone she found attractive at the club, and a lot of the men she worked with. She didn’t care if a man was single, had a girlfriend, or a wife. She drank too much and was a chain smoker. She cried almost constantly, even though she loudly bragged about how nonchalant and independent she was. She felt defensive and argued a lot with friends. She explained that she was miserable, depressed, and self-destructive during those years. After hitting a particular low point (waking up with a stranger for the second time in a week…trying to remember if they’d used any condoms) she decided to make some changes. She left the town she lived in to get away from her pattern and her past. Then, she found some professional help to figure out what was going on in her soul.

 

I felt very impressed.

 

I liked her immediately.

 

It takes a lot of guts to come to terms with such a pattern and more than that to share it with anyone, let alone a group of strangers. I was just about to thank her for her transparency, congratulate her on her recovery, and tell her how dope I thought she was, when the other new sister, seated just to my left, bearing the lover identity of Bitch, chimed in:

 

Wow! You were a real slut!

 

She howled with laughter.

 

I tensed with surprise.

 

Others’ eyes got wide.

 

I glanced at the testifier. She softened her gaze, tilted her head slightly to the right, and replied simply:

 

Yes.

 

Yes, I was.

 

The howling stopped.

 

My tension left.

 

The eyes stayed wide.

 

She didn’t explain further or add any defense. Her tone was simple and clear. There was no drama. I heard no sting. I saw no thrust forward in anxiety. I felt no pull backward in fear. There was no resistance in any direction whatsoever. She sounded knowledgeable, clear, and resigned. She looked…peaceful.

 

Calm.

 

Strong.

 

I liked her even more.

 

My admiration sprung up and it still grows for her today.

 

Now, years later, I know she had been practicing methods of Supreme Love. She had done deep excavations of her soul and body. She had met with the wounds rising up to be healed. She applied the Balm of Gilead to all that was within. She had learned to love herself with the love of God, instead of acting like she was doing it with catch phrases.

 

She was shalom.

 

There was nothing missing.

 

There was nothing broken.

 

Now, through my research into Black women’s terror in love, and my own terrifying seasons, I have an idea of what she did to get to shalom. I’ve learned that when going into a pain body and examining the scope of a shadow effect, the pioneer will come in contact with the most terrorized parts of herself. She will find that the parts are a mess. The messy parts are the outcomes of her internal beliefs. Those beliefs will be comprised of voices and stories that are spinning in terror. She will find her own voices and stories, those of her parents, adult friends, former lovers, childhood friends, colleagues, siblings, abusers, strangers….the list is long and there’s no point in attempting to detangling it. It’s a cacophony. The belief system of voices and stories will need to be explored like a rainforest, an ocean, a desert, a mountain. It takes time, training, sustained intention, support, and it is an amazing, stunning, spectacular, painful, scary, illuminating, humbling, difficult, satisfying, triumphant adventure.

 

And, here’s the key:

 

Whatever you find in the deep excavations of your soul and body are yours.

 

It all belongs to you.

 

It’s all you.

 

It’s all yours.

 

You can claim it, keep it, pack it up, or banish it. The thing that’s NOT ok is to call any of it not yours. You can’t evict where you have no authority of ownership. You can’t meaningfully and deeply revise what you did not author. Claim everything that’s in you, then make your choices about how to proceed.

 

What this sister (the testifier of terror and embodiment of shalom) did was this:

 

She claimed the slut she found as a part of herself.

 

NOTE: I understand how problematic the term “slut” is. I know what it’s supposed to do: shame women, de-sexualize women, diminish and render women as base, useless, logistical objects of disdain. It’s a supremacist patriarchal term that has been used to create distance between all people. I’m using it for two reasons. First, I’m using it for accuracy – it was used in the conversation I’ve described here. Second, I’m using it for illustration – it presents an integral point about healing through Supreme Love, which I clarify below.

 

There was a moment in the conversation when this sister (the testifier of terror and embodiment of shalom) could have bit back at the idea or perception that being called a slut…even a former slut…was publicly shaming her. However, in the work of Supreme Loving, she had found the wounded part of herself that was wild, hyperactive, perfunctory, and promiscuous. She talked to that part of herself and listened to her own beliefs about worthiness, value, sex, sexuality, control, and power. She knew that part of herself signified the depth of her perception of deprivation and disempowerment (because that fragmented self had been t/Terrorized, unknown, unmediated, and unvalued). So, she did not reject that part of herself, argue with that part of herself, lecture, judge, disown, or detach from that part of herself. She claimed all of her pain, all of her thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, and actions. She claimed her slut and loved the hell out of her. She treated her dis-ease, healed her brokenness, and integrated that part of herself back into Herself. Then, she practiced faith in her healing. She let her new thoughts and new beliefs create new systems. She did this without the integration of shame and condemnation. She practiced holiness. She practiced happiness.

 

So, when someone called her out on what she used to be, there was no rejection in her around that identity. She had already faced her truth. She didn’t say someone made her a slut. She didn’t say someone told her she was a slut. She didn’t deny that she ever was what one might call a “slut.” She knew she was a slut and she loved herself while she was a slut. She did not lie. She was not afraid of herself or embarrassed by herself. Because the slutty part of herself had been blessed just as she was, without contingencies for love, lectures about love, or directives to be different as a precedent to being loved she — the little slut — was able to rest, recline, and grow into Her newness. She received Supreme Love. She was seen honestly. She was held earnestly. She was heard completely. She was valued totally.  

 

And she was healed.

 

So…

 

Wow! She was a real slut!

 

Yes.

 

Yes, she was.

 

Jeanine Staples is Associate Professor of Literacy and Language, African American Studies, & Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. Her book, The Revelations of Asher: Toward Supreme Love in Self, is an endarkened, feminist, new literacies event (Peter Lang, 2016). In it, she explores Black women’s t/Terror in love. She produces research-based courses and methodologies that enable marginalized girls and women to realize internal revelations that fuel external revolutions.

Dr. Staples’ next book details the evolution of her acclaimed undergraduate course, The Philadelphia Urban Seminar. In it, she explores Supreme Love in schools. She shows how she generates curriculum and methodologies that incite anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-ableist pedagogical stances among teachers interested in urban education and equity for all people in schools and society.

 

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Jeanine Staples is Associate Professor of Literacy and Language, African American Studies, & Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. Her book, The Revelations of Asher: Toward Supreme Love in Self, is an endarkened, feminist, new literacies event (Peter Lang, 2016). In it, she explores Black women’s t/Terror in love. She produces research-based courses and methodologies that enable marginalized girls and women to realize internal revelations that fuel external revolutions.


Dr. Staples’ next book details the evolution of her acclaimed undergraduate course, The Philadelphia Urban Seminar. In it, she explores Supreme Love in schools. She shows how she generates curriculum and methodologies that incite anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-ableist pedagogical stances among teachers interested in urban education and equity for all people in schools and society.

 

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