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“[Men] cannot handle if a woman take’s the same liberties as them. Especially with regards to sex. Like our society teaches them to be so wrapped up in themselves, and their own conquests, that they forget we’re sexual beings as well. Plus, their egos are often way too fragile to ever handle a woman who owns and has any real agency over her body”
-Antoinette’s Tale from Jazmine Sullivan’s Heaux Tales
Writing on this topic again pains me, but alas, here we are. I’m convinced that some men hate seeing women happily embracing their bodies–without seeking validation from the male gaze.
Initially featured on TikTok, the Silhouette Challenge has taken social media by storm. Unless you’ve been living under a social media hiatus, I’m sure you’ve all seen singer/actress Chloe Bailey celebrate reaching her 1 millionth follower with a sexy Silhouette Challenge rendition using blue and pink lights.
Like a bitter Karen itching to snitch on her black neighbors, many men oppose the idea of women embracing their bodies and their sexuality. These men stay dialed to 10, always eager to attack women who operate outside the cult of “real” womanhood. These men are the gatekeepers, the ultimate authority on women’s identities and women’s bodies, and any woman who embraces her sexuality is a mindless sex toy, a breathing flesh light.
Once an ideological trope, the idea of a “real” woman is pushed and reinforced by a society based on patriarchy and white supremacy, one that demands women display such cardinal virtues as piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity.
Left out of this cult of domesticity, however, were Black women, whose femininity was immediately stripped upon their capture and enslavement. Inevitably, the cult of “real” womanhood was then embraced by middle-class white women, who quickly realized that oppressing Black women was an effective method of securing their own place in the sociopolitical and cultural hierarchy.
Nevertheless, the male dominated cult of “real” womanhood views women who openly embrace their sexuality as a threat to their dominance, not to mention to their control and commodification of women and their bodies. Just as Blue Lives Matter protestors crow loudly based on the notion that law enforcement needs protection from Black men and women, the men who oppose the silhouette challenge are vocal–and mad.
Michael Todd, the lead pastor of Transformation Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is one of those men. Pastor Todd is currently under fire for his comments on the challenge, saying, “I’m asking you, young lady, not to do the silhouette challenge, and be impressive with your body.”
He adds, “They don’t even wanna know what’s in your mind no more, because you’ve shown them everything that’s under your clothes. But what I’m telling you right now is that you can be more impactful than impressive.”
With his comments, Pastor Todd managed to hit the trifecta of misogyny: upholding sexual double standards; judging women’s bodies; and, using his position in religious leadership to sprinkle in some God-fearing shame.
Clearly, the cult of “real” womanhood is threatened by women’s sexuality. The cult of “real” womanhood is particularly afraid that when women own and embrace their bodies and their sexual pleasure, they will demand autonomy–no longer existing simply for the pleasure of men.
I’m confident that there is nothing more threatening to the patriarchy than a woman’s sexuality, or more accurately, her sexual pleasure. Whether it be the silhouette challenge or the buss it challenge, the fight for sexual autonomy is personal and political.
Though patriarchy, and Pastor Todd, deny that women can be sexual agents making moral decisions in light of their own sexual desires, I stand in full support of the women who choose to take agency over their bodies.
Keep showing those silhouette’s off, ladies. And relish in the agency you have to make decisions about your body–decisions made freely, no matter what anyone else demands of you.