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What love (and sex) really looks
like in the 21st century.

By Jenna Wortham
Illustrations by Wesley Allsbrook, Trenton Duerksen, Lisa Hanawalt, Melody Newcomb, Pat Perry, Jonny Ruzzo, Sam Vanallemeersch, and Roxie Vizcarra

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I sent my very first sext at the age of 15. Maybe I was 13. I was up late, talking to strangers in an AOL chatroom, when someone asked me to upload my photo. I can remember hesitating for a few moments, then obliging, my heart galloping along. I arranged myself on the thick carpet in my bedroom, took a photo with my Web cam, and sent it. Why? Why not? I was clothed, but it was definitely meant to be provocative, flirtatious. I couldn’t fathom any repercussions to my behavior, not at that moment, not at that age. And nothing bad happened, not really. …


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By Jenna Wortham

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The comedian Hannibal Buress has a bit in his act about trying to hail a cab in New York as a black man. He walks up to the taxi and tries to open the door, but rather than pick him up, the driver hits the gas and speeds away, with Buress running alongside the cab.

“I don’t know what I wanted from that,” he cracks. “Like he was going to stop the cab and go, ‘Wow, you’re fast—get in, get in! Damn, you’re so fast I’m not even racist anymore.’”

It’s funny, but also grim, because it depicts an uncomfortably tragic truth: that for a person of color, it can be infuriatingly difficult to hail a taxi. …


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The first ghost story I ever heard was from my mother. She described how once, while sleeping in an upstairs bedroom in her sister’s house, she woke to the feeling of twin icicles curling around her ankles. They were hands, but she didn’t see a body, exactly. More like an abstract interpretation of a body, female, crouched at the foot of the bed. It yanked once, hard, and she opened her pink teenaged mouth and screamed, causing it to let go and vanish. The details shift uneasily when she retells this story — -sometimes there is a horrible, unseasonal rainstorm beating the roof, sometimes she is 15, or 17. …


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Halfway into 2013, I climbed a ladder to the roof of a small white boat in the Caribbean and steadied myself against the bobbing and the salted wind while my best friend Becca did the same next to me. The air was deliciously hot, we were wobbly from a rum and juice punch called Donkey; “Diamonds” by Rihanna was blasting from a boombox. We crab-walked to the edge, grasped each others hands, counted to three and leapt into the waves below.

That moment was one of the best moments of the year, right up there with testifying while a dookie-braided Solange covered Selena on an outdoor stage in Brooklyn and alternating between doing the Cupid Shuffle on Christmas morning with Megan, basting a ham, and helping her little sister highlight her hair. Each of these instances, and many more just like them, involved women, all outside of my family’s bloodline. …


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Episodes One, Two, and Three of The Hairpin’s eight-part Kindle Serial “An Experience Definitely Worth Allegedly Having” are now available in full via Amazon. Excerpts from the first two episodes can be found here and here.

***

1. The guy sitting next to us on the plane to Mexico looked like he’d been dropped in a pot and boiled — his face and chest bloomed in a glorious bouquet of pinks and reds. …


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Here is what we know about the girls on Girls (the first episode of which is now on YouTube). They are lean and they are leggy, they have fat thighs and they have smart mouths, they call each other at work to discuss the details of their STDs, they get into tipsy arguments with their exes, they post up in bars to avoid unpleasant truths, they make out with strange boys in stairwells, they hate their boyfriends’ best friends and they flirt with mysterious men on the street.

Are these Girls like the girls we know? Some girls who watched Girls last night thought so, although others did not, according to Twitter. …

About

Jenna Wortham

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