Pandemic isolation may be beneficial in helping us get in touch with our truest sexual desires

Black woman lying in bed with eyes closed.
Black woman lying in bed with eyes closed.
Photo: Emmanuel Faure/Getty Images

Remember sex?

We went from hot-girl summer to celibate-girl winter in the blink of an eye. Covid-19 put an abrupt end to barhopping — and bed-hopping — shuttering us indoors to be alone with our thoughts and our most instinctive cravings. But these days, women are less likely to view celibacy as a sentence and more as a form of self-care, especially at a time when protecting your energy and prioritizing mental health are tantamount.

It’s hard to even have a conversation about female celibacy that isn’t connected to religion, relationships, or respectability. Celibacy so often entails taking a vow of chastity for the love of a father, the Father, or a future husband. This is why purity balls, where teenage girls promise their fathers and God to remain chaste until marriage, are still a thing. For so long, sexual abstinence was less about a pause and more about the wait for the one — or anyone. Celibacy was either an act of devotion or the maligned mark of spinsterhood. …


She had it all and still stayed. It’s an eye-opening account.

FKA Twigs at the BRIT Awards 2020 red carpet.
FKA Twigs at the BRIT Awards 2020 red carpet.
FKA Twigs attends The BRIT Awards 2020 at The O2 Arena on February 18, 2020 in London, England. Photo: Jim Dyson/Redferns/Getty Images

Money and power won’t shield you from domestic abuse. It’s a symptom of how we love.

Popular singer FKA Twigs stunned fans when she filed a lawsuit alleging severe abuse at the hands of her former boyfriend, actor Shia LaBeouf. The 32-year-old ethereal powerhouse is known for her wildly conceptual videos, lyrics that challenge feminine norms, and a sinewy body that she occasionally wraps around a pole in a proud declaration of her sexual sovereignty. …


We don’t have to dim ourselves to get what we want. It’s out there.

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Photo: Christopher Malcolm/Getty Images

When California rapper Saweetie appeared on Instagram Live with her boyfriend, Quavo, and told women that a man isn’t worth dating “if he’s not getting you a Birkin,” it sparked a heated debate about women and their standards. How high is too high? But for me, that brief viral moment called to mind a real virtual movement taking place among Black women who dream of securing the bag, even if not a $100,000 Birkin, by leveling up.

Every day a new guru emerges with trade secrets for Black women who want to learn to be “feminine” in order to attract wealthy men. They are a part of a rapidly growing online community that embraces hypergamy — the practice of marrying a spouse of higher social status. …


Whether or not a woman chooses to submit in a relationship has to do with her finances as well as narratives imposed upon her race

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Jeannie Mai in ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars.” Photo: Frank Ockenfels /ABC/Getty Images

Jeannie Mai ignited an impromptu gender war when she announced that she wanted to “submit” to her soon-to-be husband, rapper Jeezy, during an episode of The Real.

“I’m a very dominant woman,” she explained to her fellow castmates, “so when I come home, I like the idea that my man leads us.”

She caught flack for her blatant endorsement of traditional gender roles in marriage, but frankly, I understood. If I were in her position, I’d come home and allow my man to take the lead too. …


Sex & Love

Do you think monogamy was put in practice to benefit women? Think again.

Closeup of a Black woman’s hand with an engagement ring.
Closeup of a Black woman’s hand with an engagement ring.
Photo: Roy Hsu/Getty Images

In 2017 I was shooting an episode of the Grapevine where the topic of discussion was gold diggers. I attempted to explain the subtle ways our romantic customs center male desire, often at the expense of female agency.

That’s when I said it, before a room of cheering women, and slack-jawed men.

“The truth about monogamy is — monogamy is the way that we can ensure that average Joes get to get married too!”

In my defense, I was neither praising polygamy nor slamming—well — broke men. I threw it in as an aside.

I thought this was common knowledge. In my mind, I was merely mentioning a historical fact; but in reality, I was stepping on a cultural land mine. …


Sex & Love

In matters of love, it’s important to know the difference between boundaries and walls

Distorted gold-tinted reflection of a young Black woman.
Distorted gold-tinted reflection of a young Black woman.
Photo: Jonathan Knowles/Getty Images

Ayesha Faines is ZORA’s newest Sex & Relationships columnist. You’ll be hearing from her on a biweekly basis.

I’ll never forget the woman who asked me how she could open herself to love again.

I was speaking on a panel in Brooklyn, and I can still picture the vacant look in her eyes. She said that after multiple heartbreaks, she felt she’d become invisible. The few men who did approach her all seemed to have bad intentions. …


Sex & Love

Women are not sacrificing their time — or health — for superficial pairings anymore

Smiling Black woman sitting on a terrace with her laptop, on a phone call.
Smiling Black woman sitting on a terrace with her laptop, on a phone call.
Photo: Peter Dressel/Getty Images

Ayesha Faines is ZORA’s newest Sex & Relationships columnist. You’ll be hearing from her on a biweekly basis. This column is her debut.

“Before Covid, you could never get people to be open,” my college friend said one night over Zoom. “Men wanted to go to happy hours. They wanted to play rounds of ‘who do you know?’ Now, you’re actually getting to know each other.”

Judging by the looks of the women on my screen, we were all shocked, mainly because she lives in the heart of D.C., …


Black women perform devotion because of the odds stacked against us. Jada subverted it.

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Jada Pinkett Smith. Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

When Jada Pinkett Smith confessed to an affair with a 27-year-old musician, August Alsina, during a tell-all episode of her Facebook show, Red Table Talk, she laid bare the reality of her complicated marriage to actor Will Smith. In the candid, at times uncomfortable, 12-minute conversation, Will sat beside her and resolved to “love her through anything.” There was even that awkward toast to their “bad marriage.”

Many saw a cuckolded man and a selfish wife, as the slew of “entanglement” memes reveals. But I’d argue that the episode’s response reflects a larger turning point in the ways that Black women idealize and navigate romantic relationships. …

About

Ayesha K. Faines

I’m the Sex & Love columnist for Zora 🍯, founder of Women Love Power, a talking head & salsera 💃🏾! WomenLovePower.com | IG & Twitter @ayeshakfaines.

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