Sex & Gender
i am teaching my son to respect me as a black woman & a sex worker
August 1, 2017
By Suprihmbé / WearYourVoice Mag*, AFROPUNK contributor
Many people have asked – both out of curiosity and vindictiveness – what I will tell my son when he is older about who I am and what I do. I rarely consider this because it is my intention that my son know me as a whole person throughout his life. There will be few major revelations on his end as far as my work goes, because I am very open about it. I am very genuine and outspoken and age-appropriately honest. Sometimes I do wonder what I would do or how I should react if my son expresses shame because his mama was or is a sex worker?
I hope that I am raising my son well enough that he could be open with me about his feelings. I hope that the men I have allowed into my life will not inadvertently pollute his mind with sexist ideals about who his mother should be or what she should be doing. I hope that because I am allowing my son to be his whole self – in a way that I never was allowed – he will recognize that I am doing the same. My self-expression is very important to my parenting.
In every action I take I am teaching my son not only about his own freedom, but mine as a Black woman and mother-artist and sex worker, because these are my intersections. These are part of my identity, as well as being bisexual, demisexual and an assault/abuse survivor. I want my son to see women like me as entire humans. I also want him to know that I am not as unique and atypical as I seem.
I hope that, should my son experience discrimination because of my past or my profession, that I will be able to help him unpack that. I hope that I will be able to relate to him that it is not his fault nor mine that people can be so callous, so racist, sexist and cruel. Sometimes that is hard to understand as a kid. Sometimes you just want things to be easy. Sometimes it is just easier to cede to pressure, to play the game, instead of reaching out or standing up for what you believe for fear of being made out to be “weird.”
I make it my mission to demonstrate the opposite of this consistently in front of my son. I also curate our company and try to keep it clear of people who don’t have the same or similar values as I do. But I understand that I can’t control everything or everyone and that one day someone will say something messed up to my kid and he will have to decide what to do.
I spend a lot of time teaching my son about agency and making his own choices. I try to demonstrate as much freedom as I can as a poor Black woman. I talk to him about race, about beauty, about his interests. I am firm, yet vulnerable with my son, and I think it makes a difference, or it will make a difference, in the way he communicates with me.
I have a respect for him that most parents don’t have for their children, and I believe that respect must be earned–even by a parent. I don’t think that me having clips or porn or pictures floating about should affect the way that my son views me as a parent.
I have an offbeat way of parenting. I have definitely been told I am “doing too much.” I learned fear and obedience as a child, and I tried very hard to please the people around me, especially the ones I cared about. That was how I adapted to abuse. I know that there are a lot of people who would make the claim that my way of parenting is self-centered. They would say that I should think of how my decisions, especially being a semi-out sex worker, impact my son as young Black child–and someday an adult. But their perspective comes from operating out of respectability and shame. I would like to avoid that as a parent.
I want my son to be his own person, and I want him to be informed and to view himself as a Black person, and women, as whole individuals. And, honestly, I would rather be doing too much than too little.
This post is in partnership with WearYourVoice Mag.
*Suprihmbé is a proheaux womanist thot scholar who wants to promote freedom, is Morrison political, and likes cats. Her blog is on Medium at heauxthots.com and her comic “stranger” is on SmackJeeves at stranger.thewebcomic.com. You can support her work on Patreon.
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