Our Next Generation: I think it’s called sex…

Imagine this: A boy and a girl are locked together, bodies sweaty, hips pressed forcefully in concert, he is behind her with a look of absolute concentration, and she braces herself, holding her ankles while he thrusts harder, faster…sex between eager teens? No silly, it’s dancing!

We’re all grownups here, so let’s talk honestly about this. We’ve heard of “freak dancing”, we know that it has to do with bodies grinding into each other in what many term as “sexually suggestive”. This isn’t just about the latest craze in dance; this is about when behavior crosses over into actual sex acts.

Now I’ve got to be honest with you; I’ve never given freak dancing much thought; I personally as a woman think that it is degrading and I don’t understand why a girl would want to use her body in such a way and limit her potential, or her image, to her sex. I avoid images of it and generally say pretty opinionated things when in conversation with my sistas about the topic of women who use their bodies to get ahead, or get anything at all, and the men who exploit them; it is after all, a man’s world. I didn’t have any conviction about the issue until one day a few years ago my daughter was in the bathtub, singing a cappella. Imagine a nine year old:

I bet you want the goodies. Bet you thought about it. Got you all hot and bothered. Mayb’ cuz I talk about it…

Her one-woman show single-handedly changed the culture of our house.

Sexually explicit music has been around as long as there has been a ballad. Most of “the classics” are about love, and they are detailed; Donny Hathaway, Gladys Knight, Mtume, the Floaters, Luther Vandross, the Average White Band, there are too many to name. Check out Nat King Cole’s ‘Walking My Baby Back Home”…there’s only one reason why he has to straighten his tie, and she has to borrow his comb; it’s a love story with a dash of sex.

I recently attended a 16th birthday party for the son of an acquaintance, which has been the proverbial straw breakin’ the camel’s back. The birthday boy, James, is Black, and he’s a good kid. With his brother he attends one of the most respected area private schools for boys, and has always excelled academically. James is a prep, in fact, all of his friends are preps too. He has attended mostly private catholic schools his entire life and never gets into serious trouble. He’s the kind of kid that you know is going to be just fine, that he’s going to make it, that he more than likely will not be a part of the ever growing population of black males that fill our country’s prisons.

When I arrived there were probably 100 kids there, ages 13-16, the overwhelming majority were Black. Most everyone who attended was from one of five area private schools, their parents went to college and have successful careers, and they live in the suburbs and are on the path to success, just like James. We had captains of debate teams, class presidents, 4.0 grade point average students who baby-sit their neighbors kids and attend Church every Sunday morning.

At the party I saw every sexual position you can imagine; standing, sitting, or laying on the dance floor. Most, if not all of us adults, have had sex; we know what it is, what it looks like, and how it feels. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that real sex is not what we see in soap operas. We’re whispering things in each other’s ears, calling things out in the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom or wherever we happen to be, we’re covered in each other’s sweat, changing positions and we would never, ever, ever want a room full of people watching us in our most intimate moments with our significant other— at least most of us wouldn’t. More importantly, it’s not something we want our kids doing in public.

Ladies, we know that when we straddle our man’s lap, in bed or in a chair, that he is going to get an erection; that’s why we do it. Gentlemen, you certainly know that if we bounce up and down on your lap, at some point all you’re going to want to do is take our clothes off and tell us a thing or two, and show us three or four more. When we turn around and “back it up”, c’mon, I mean, does that say “hold my hand”, or, “let’s go steady”? I’ll spare you the exact translation, but no, that’s not it.

When a female is on her back with her legs wrapped around a guy’s waist, and he’s thrusting his pelvis into hers as fast as he can, is that dancing? Does it remind you of the mashed potato? Charleston? Electric Slide? C-Walk? No, no and no. It’s sex, pure and simple. What’s more frightening than seeing this with my own eyes, is realizing that the kids who do it, don’t know what they are doing, particularly the young sistas.

We could blame what happened at this particular event on James’ mom; after all, she threw the party and didn’t have enough adults present to police three kids, let alone 100. But mom wasn’t on the dance floor giving step by step directions to each of the girls on how you “drop it on him” (apparently that’s when a girl goes from standing with a boy lying between her legs to suddenly dropping into full splits onto his pelvis).

We live in the age of sex and shiny things. Let me be real clear that I see sex all over the place- sex sells everything from pop to pencils, but those are not the images that I’m focused on right now. It’s about the lyrics in rap, and it’s about the scantily clad sistas we see in video after video after video. These Black male rappers, idolized by kids from all races and cultures, show these same kids just what women are for; sex. Is it all because of black men that young women and girls act this way? It couldn’t be, particularly when you have women writing bestselling books about their sexual relationships with men- how many have pre-ordered the next tell all and hope to become a millionaire like her someday- too many. I know four year old girls that can recite every word to “pop, lock and drop” better than they can recite their home telephone number and address. And of course, the lyrics are nothing without the “dance moves” themselves.

We’ve sustained that imagery for so long, that it’s well entrenched in the minds of our kids. Am I blaming society’s ills on rap? Maybe. When I hear “all these bitches fall”, shrieking from the sound system, and find a wall with boys lined up against it, and girls in front of them with their butts planted firmly against their partner’s midsection while they shake, jiggle, drop and grind, family, we have a serious problem. There were lap dances aplenty, and then there was Marcus.

Marcus was one of the boys lucky enough to be against the wall while one of the girls displayed her raunchiest moves for the video camera and numerous cell phone cameras that clicked away. Whether any of the party goers were aware (besides Marcus that is), Marcus was in the midst of a full blown sex act. Was there penetration? No, thank goodness. Was there clothing separating their body parts? Yes. But Marcus was beyond aroused, Marcus was very close to having an orgasm, completely oblivious because his eyes were squeezed shut and he was busy shouting out just as you can imagine a man would in the bedroom. He could barely breath he was thrusting so hard into this girl, gasping, panting, and there were plenty of “yes…yes, oh shit, yeah, oh, oh, yes yes!” moments for Marcus, until his partner, became aware of my presence and bolted, at which point Marcus reacted like a man whose sex partner moved off of him right before he was going to ejaculate. He screamed out “oh shit, damn, damn! Give me another one!” Then, without hesitation, he grabbed a bystander, and threw her in front of him. She obliged by bending over and grabbing her ankles while he continued on his quest to orgasm.

Time and time again, from the young sistas and the young brothas, we heard the same thing: It’s just dancing, chill.

A sex act is defined as “an act performed with another for sexual gratification”. Per Webster’s, two people are needed, and penetration is not necessary. Freak dancing also falls under masturbation’s definition: “erotic stimulation especially of one’s own genital organs commonly resulting in orgasm and achieved by manual or other bodily contact exclusive of sexual intercourse, by instrumental manipulation, occasionally by sexual fantasies, or by various combinations of these agencies”.

Now, I’ve been told that I am old and out of touch. I haven’t hit 30 yet so I’m not feeling that rationale for my thinking about this new wave of “dance”. It’s not my rationale that should be questioned, but the kids who “get their freak on”, and the parents who do nothing to stop it. After all, kids can come up with some scary rationale in order to feel okay about their actions: STD’s are on the rise because an increasing number of youth are having anal and oral sex and consider that to not be sex at all, because there is not vaginal penetration. Tell your mama you’re not having sex when you have oral herpes. Boys think they can’t get a girl pregnant if she doesn’t have an orgasm- try telling that to your mama when she has to make the child support payments because Mr. young stud isn’t old enough to work legally.

We have enough rationale- now we need to balance that with REALITY. Sexual stimulation is not just a part of our culture; it’s a natural part of our bodies. A recent study about sex (and why people have it), showed the number one reason people have sex is because it feels good. As a mother of two and auntie too many, I can tell you that masturbation starts for some before they can even speak- why? Because it feels good. Sexual thoughts are always there, and once a child hits puberty and starts their sex education classes at school, most everyone wants to experience the forbidden sweet fruit of sex, whether oral, vaginal or otherwise- freak dancing is no exception. It is a means for teens to experiment with acts and physical contact that bring about sexual gratification. Are we okay with that?

It’s just dancing, chill.

When I talk to girls about this behavior, and not just those at James’ birthday bash, but girls as young as the first grade, the number one reason they give me for their sexual behavior is music videos with Black women. This is not a complicated issue; our young sistas see their older counterparts in these videos, with little clothing, men with bug eyes and sexually explicit lyrics and think; “that’s what I need to do too.” It doesn’t matter that their mom’s don’t do it. They give more power to television images and they think that is what our female culture is about.

I know moms with daughters (and sons), and they all have cable, and when their daughters are in front of the TV getting step by step instructions on how to pop, lock and drop it, their moms say with a wave of their hand “I don’t know why she watches that trash”. But they don’t turn the TV off.

We pitched cable a few years ago, primarily because of sex and violence, and the overarching manner in which people of color are portrayed. A cable free home is not going to save my kids from ever experiencing sex, drugs or violence, but it sends a stronger message that not only is it not appreciated, but it’s not tolerated or supported. If a girl thinks that her own sexual exploitation is the way to her success, then she has no reason to cultivate her mind. Girls are already behind the curve when it comes to their involvement in such fields as math and science, and as the matriarchs of future Black families, their disinterest in their own intelligence brings the black community face to face with such problems as poverty, illiteracy, and drug use.

I never thought that I would see the day when I would equate sex to poverty or drug use, but in the scheme of things, how far off the mark could it really be? We are all products of our environment and certainly kids are no exception.

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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

One response to “Our Next Generation: I think it’s called sex…”

  1. Kim says :

    I was a “chaperone” –if that’s what one can call it at this same party with Sakara. I was disappointed, disheartened and disgusted in general by what I witnessed our next generation of young brothers and sisters partaking in. I’m very glad to see that Sakara write about this because it is a situation prevalent in our culture right now and I find it disturbing that more of us are not having this conversation.

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