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Welcome to #AskCam, a column where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.

  Dear Cam, How exactly do I address consent in casual relationship settings? If I'm in a longer-standing relationship, I'm not embarrassed or ashamed to talk about literally any topic....but if I go on one date with someone and I'm not vibing them then they kiss me or grope me or touch me in some way that my body is adverse, I get uncomfortable and can't find the words to defend myself in the moment. Sometimes it's because I shut down, other times I just prefer the out that I can ghost them and use that as a way to avoid the in-person confrontation. If I don't know the person at all, I'm fine. You creep on me at the bar or catcall me I'm telling you to your face to not sexually harass me, but it's this weird in between where I almost feel a sense of either guilt, or obligation, or fear that clouds my ability to speak out. -Casual Consent   Dear Casual Consent, I think your question is an increasingly important one. There's so much conversation lately about the ways that desirability, consent, and autonomy spill over into our everyday (*ahem* sexual) lives, and I think that we don't really allow much space for navigating these things in ways that are free of confusion and awkwardness. When I first read your letter, I immediately thought that this wasn't so much a question of consent itself – you already seem to have a firm grasp on that – to me, your question speaks more about boundaries. Boundaries are a tricky thing in itself – for women and people who have been conditioned and socialized as femme folks, we've been brought up with this idea that other people's needs should come before our own. Empathy and compassion for others are admirable traits, but because conversations about autonomy and boundaries weren't accompanied, the message that most of us received was that what we want and need aren't as important as our partner's wants and needs, whether they identify as cis-het men or not.
Related: HOW SEXUALITY IS CRUCIAL FOR INTERSECTIONALITY: AN INTRODUCTION

Ask Cam is not going to be a sexuality column that you're used to - it is a space where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.

As intersectionality becomes more of a buzzword and an opportunity for mainstream (*ahem* white feminism) to co-opt Black-specific labor, I can't help but see similarities between social justice activism and how we explore, talk about, and navigate issues of sexuality. I've written before about how sexuality affects how we view our identities and navigate the larger world. But in my time exploring how social justice affects marginalized people, I find that we rarely have space to talk about how sexuality plays into all of this. And not just the basics of the act of sex - the where, how, or how long? How does social justice and intersectional spaces make space for us to navigate the nuances of this, the cracks of sexuality where identity, internalized oppression, and individual awkwardness spill together to create something new?
Related: SEX EDUCATION CENTERS WHITENESS — AND IT’S A PROBLEM

White women's racism will cut you in the dark and then ask you why you’re bleeding.

By Rachael Edwards
It was the thick of Black History Month and I worked as an art administrator for a program in Baltimore City. The site I was assigned to was managed by a white woman who cloaked her racism with a bright smile and photos on Facebook with Black students that garnered “ooo’s” and “ahh’s” from the white liberal peanut gallery in the comment section. I once told her that since we celebrated Latinx Heritage Month, that we should celebrate Black History Month with our students. Her response, dripping with anti-Blackness, was that celebrating Black History Month would be “too overwhelming”. I was stunned and felt my stomach knot up in the most horrific way. At most of our team meetings, I was the only woman of color. Since the students we were working with were minorities, one would think that I would be the voice they tune into the most. My ideas and suggestions were often met with a, “Yes, Rachael we hear you, but that is not quite what we are looking for.” I later found out that the white woman running these meetings told another white woman colleague that “the stereotype about Black woman was true”, and she topped off her racist statement by saying Black women are “difficult to work with”.
Related: NO, YOU CAN’T BE FRIENDS WITH A WHITE SUPREMACIST AND NOT BE ONE YOURSELF.

Ain't I a woman?

On this day in 1851, at the Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, Sojourner Truth delivered a speech which essentially solidified the basis of intersectionality with her groundbreaking address known as, "Ain't I a woman?" Born into slavery as Isabella Baumfree, Truth escaped and became an advocate for the abolitionist movement and addressed the experiences of black women born into slavery. Her words are the basis for intersectionality, a term later coined by critical race theorist and law professor, Kimberlé Crenshaw.
Related: What Intersectionality Means to Wear Your Voice

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