Rebecca Walker
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REBECCA WALKER ON SEX AND HIP-HOP,
by
Raquel Cepeda, © OneWorld, 2002

     
 

In our Sex Issue (Feb./March), your earth/wife/ride-or-die chick Meshell Ndegéocello said you deconstructed the whole idea of race. Can the same be said for your take on sexuality?

Well if she meant that I refuse to live my life according to one of the racial scripts, i.e., victimized black person or tragic mulatta, on offer, then yes, I would say the same is true of my sexuality. I've never been interested in the heterosexual script of boy meets girl, boy marries girl, they have some babies and accumulate possessions until they die. Or the homosexual script of girl meets girl, girl moves in with girl, they get a sperm donor or a cat and accumulate possessions until they die. I have always wanted my relationships to be off the patriarchial grid. My script is more like girl meets girl, falls in love with girl, fools around with boy, makes art with girl, makes baby with boy, they all live together in a beautiful space building, a great community/family of friends. Then girl makes more art, boy goes traveling to find himself in South Asia, girl builds a boat, the girls take their child sailing around the world, stopping in at an ashram to learn yoga, meditation and organic farming. And that's only the beginning. I think relationships should be about much more than procreation and status and even romantic love; they should be about spiritual growth and change and making art and building community and exploring the full range of pleasure and sexuality.

What does the term "bisexuality" mean to you? What do you think of people who say that it's not possible for a person to be emotionally and sexually attached to both men and women, or that someone who is bisexual is just trying to freak both worlds?

Being bisexual means I am attracted to souls, to people, to individuals. It means eroticism is not limited to one set of genitalia, but found in minds, hands, eyes, hips, mouths, of all genders. I think it is sad that people often try to trivialize or debase what they fear or don't understand.

What have you learned about yourself with each lover you've had?

That I love to be loved.

In your memoir about growing up mixed race, you reveal having had sex at a very young age. How has sexual politricks changed for you over the years?

When I was young, I was desperate for approval, for a sense of belonging. And so even though I did not have actual sexual desire, sex was much more about satisfying my need to be held and accepted than actually feeling pleasure. These days, I love and accept myself, and sex is an expression of that rather than a substitute for it.

The scores of so-called third-wave feminists have been criticized by their elders for wanting to reconcile their sexual orientation and femininity with, say, feminism. To borrow from rapper Common, is there any way you can be "sexual and an intellectual" and still be respected as a Generation Now feminist?

The sexiest women I know are the ones who know their bodies and minds, and are totally comfortable taking full responsibility for their own pleasure. We want that shit to feel good, okay? And we are not afraid to break whatever rules or taboos erected by someone else to make it happen. In this culture that is still about satisfying the male gaze and the male dick, being serious about your female pleasure is a crucial womanist/feminist/humanist act. But don't forget, those second wavers are the ones who brought the female orgasm out of the closet. Without that, we might not even be talking about sex right now.

Do you think sexual preference is genetic?

I think sexual preference is both genetic and socially constructed. We are probably born with a predisposition to a certain spot on the sexuality dial, somewhere between totally homosexual and totally heterosexual. Once you get here and grow up in a culture that sends very clear messages about how you are supposed to identify sexually, you find yourself being constructed and shaped largely by what is deemed acceptable. I think most people in our culture have not idea what their true sexuality is because we're not allowed to explore different sexual feelings and impulses freely. There is so much pressure placed on us from a young age to be straight, to be hetero. It could be that many "gay" people would not hold on to their homosexuality if they felt free to move in and out of it. I am sure the same could be said of so-called "straight" people. This is sad, actually, because so much of our creative energy comes from the sexual, and when that is colonized or imprisoned or uncultivated, so is our creative, regenerative space.

I see sex as being a nirvana-like spiritual, almost religious, experience -- at least that's what I wish it were every time. Do you see a connection between orgasm and spiritual enlightenment?

The French call orgasm le petit mort, the little death, and in a way, a really good orgasm is like a momentary death of the ego self, the self that is obsessed with the earthly plane. In orgasm, a lot of that falls away and we get a taste of a much sweeter, much more transcendent ecstasy, a joy that has nothing to do with material things or notions of ownership of any kind. It is amazing to me that we have been made, designed, to experience this kind of pleasure. It clearly is supposed to help us see some deeper truth. Like, maybe joy is our birthright.

What's been the most romantic moment of your life so far?

I have romantic moments all the time! One of the great things about being with a musician are the songs. I love it when Meshell comes home and says, I wrote you a song and it makes me cry. I like simpler things too, like when she cooks for me, or when we fall asleep together in the afternoon sun after reading each other sentences we like from whatever book has our attention. I also like it when she gives me a wad of cash and a kiss and says, Go buy yourself a pair of those crazy expensive shoes you like!

More and more mainstream rap music videos showcase glossy hyper-lesbianism and equally homoerotic male fraternity. How do you think hip-hop currently deals with sexuality and oddly enough, homophobia

Hip-hop has a long way to go before I can really feel good about its relationship to female sexuality. As far as I can tell from watching the endless booty clap videos on TV, many men in hip-hop seem pathologically obsessed with proving their heterosexuality to themselves and to each other, a sure sign of deep homophobia. This obsession leads them to embrace and mimic the ultimate supposed heterosexual icon, the pimp. It is sad and frightening to me that so many brothers have bought into the pimp script. I mean, what is that about? In my city right now, pimps are kidnapping 12-year-old girls and getting them hooked on crack, and beating them if they don't come home with enough money. Am I missing something? This is quite an extreme to go to in order to prove that you don't like dick, don't you think? The current lesbian fetish seems like just another way to assert the power of the male gaze, like being gay is acceptable if it is for men's pleasure and consumption. I can't wait for more men to reinvent masculinity like women have been doing with femininity for the last 30 years. I am looking forward to more expressions of the true diversity we are blessed to have in our community. We've already mentioned Common; let's quote some other brothers in hip-hop I love. Let's get free, y'all!

What can a man learn from a woman on how to satisfy another woman?

Slow the fuck down.

 

 

 

Rebecca Walker - All Rights Reserved 2007. http://www.rebeccawalker.com - Rebecca @ MySpace