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Because of the stigma and myth of periods being dirty, I wanted to distance myself from imagined uncleanliness. I compromised my comfort, but it did not come without a valuable lesson.

By Rachael Edwards We all have stories that we tuck away into the crevices of our inner-most beings in hopes to have them never resurface again. One of my stories that I rarely, if ever, share with anyone is the time I fainted while trying to insert a tampon. Granted, it was my first time but there were reasons that led up to me fainting and the embarrassment that followed after. Recently, I have explored why I find this particular story so embarrassing. Growing up, I was taught to tuck pads deep into my purse so that no one else could see I had my period. It was women’s business and men could not discover what was  going on with my body. If they did, myself and other young women were teased. The language around periods remains problematic because this language is laced with associating our menstrual cycles to uncleanliness–people who menstruate have to hide what happens to their bodies because the cishet male gaze perpetuates the lie that periods are dirty and something to be ashamed of. When I was 17-years-old, I thought it would be a good idea to insert a tampon without any practice. I was told that tampons were cleaner and way cooler than pads. In high school, I was the one in the bathroom with the loud crunchy pad paper. I never had any real issue with pads until someone told me that I was late to the game and needed to start wearing tampons. I wanted to be as clean as possible-if tampons meant that, I had to catch up.
Related: #ASKCAM: HOW TO OWN YOUR SEXUALITY

The “ride or die” script is not a positive role to play and we should be wary of this trope. It hurts us in the long run.

By BRITTNEY MADDOX “All I need in this life of sin is me and my girlfriend,” raps a  young Jay-z in the 2003  hit  “03  Bonnie and Clyde.” Beyonce sings the hook and goes on to talk about the things she would do to prove her unwavering loyalty. This was played a lot during my childhood along with countless other songs that I remember with this recurring theme of “the ride or die.” The woman who always had your back. She was fly, loyal, and would never snitch. She was an ideal that many sought out or would strive to become. While at first, it may seem charming to be a woman who fits this archetype, this character often seen in hip hop has its consequences. It fosters a culture that normalizes mistreatment of black women in romantic relationships, where their bodies are in the crossfire of an anti-femme and anti-black climate. Where harming us seems like a punchline. The older I get, I become more concerned about the ways black women are mistreated and how it’s normalized. There are countless media sources that use misogynoir as a vehicle to justify violence against black femmes. It's so commonplace that we have internalized these messages.  The  “ride or die” female archetype commonly seen in hip-hop is constantly sought out due to her loyalty and a high tolerance for abuse. We are unsure who coined the term, but the origins can be traced back through songs. In the “You're all I Need”  by Method Man and Mary J Blige, the two talk about their fatal attraction. The chorus laments this “loyalty ‘til death” mentality.  “You're all, I need to lie together/cry together/I swear to God I hope we fucking die together.” Method Man says his woman is down to carry his weapons and engage in criminal activities. Charlie Baltimore sings "Cause I'm your bitch, the Bonnie to your Clyde/It's mental, mash your enemies," so the woman in question often has to exhibit a level of trust to put her life on the line. 
Related: "Putting Ourselves First As Black Women/Femmes Is Like Returning To Our First Love

The latest news about R. Kelly illustrates how we are failing Black girls, we are failing Black women.

A new chapter in the R. Kelly saga broke yesterday when Buzzfeed published an investigative piece about the artist. The article details accusations of the singer/sexual predator having a ‘cult’ or harem of young women whom he houses in various properties. Kelly allegedly dictates how they dress, controls what they eat, confiscates their cell phones and limits their contact with the outside world. According to sources, he also records their sexual encounters and shares them with the men in his circle. Journalist Jim DeRogatis, who has been writing about Kelly’s exploits and misdeeds for decades, spoke to several victims and their families, including the parents of a 22-year-old girl (now identified as Joycelyn Savage) who was absorbed into Kelly’s entourage when she was 19. Savage’s mother, who went by J in the article, was quoted as saying that she was "really impressed" by Kelly when she met in at a 2015 concert in California. Money and power in the hands of masculinity IS impressive, aint it? J is in her 40s, so this mother, who was an adult when Kelly's 2008 trial occurredwas STILL a fan despite evidence of his abusive history. The only thing that can describe the horror of this is internalized misogynoir. She was willing to sell out her daughter’s existence to a known predator because he was acquitted–despite the video evidence circulated widely of him urinating on a 14-year-old girl.
Related: THE U.S. STILL HAS A CHILD BRIDE PROBLEM

Whether you want a romantic relationship, partnership, marriage or none of the above–let your single flag fly unapologetically.

Think about your earliest ideas of being single–was your association negative? Did it carry undertones of loneliness, sadness or undesirability? By your definition, did singleness somehow equate emptiness or incompletion? If that was your understanding, you weren't alone. When I was a kid I remember hearing adult men associate singledom with heavy-set women (insert major side eye) who ate ravioli from the can with their bare hands, while crying over romance films and soaking their cats with their tears. The same men that shamed single women were not only single themselves, they were actually celebrated for it. I learned quickly that it was indeed a man's world. I grew up believing that every man was a prince, and a woman needed approval from a prince to be considered a princess. As young girls lead by the Disney dynasty, media never taught us to imagine our lives without a man at the helm. It was suggested that unless a prince became your savior, you were destined to be nothing more than a dusty damsel incapable of living a meaningful life. Cinderella's slippers weren't good enough; her worth was contingent upon her ability to fit into the slipper more palatable to the prince. Snow White's prince made out with her and took consent-less ownership of her body while she was sleeping–but that was okay because he claimed her. I'm sure they lived happily ever after.
Related: 10 THINGS EVERY INTERSECTIONAL FEMINIST SHOULD ASK ON A FIRST DATE

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