Seducing to Survive: Black Women Using Sex and Relationships to Survive

Black women have been using sex as a  survival tool since before  slavery. In Africa,  African women seduced the African man to live in his ready made hut when she was ostracized from her village. An African woman would lose a husband and by next week she had another. During slavery, we slept with our white masters to keep our children from being sold, to keep our husbands from being killed, for extra food and medicine to heal our sick Maw Maw and Aunt Sarah. When slavery was finally abolished in 1865, black women still worked for a “master” for small squares of land, living in  shanties that could fall over if the east wind blew too hard. When we needed more,we did what we had to do. Give him a little bit of sunshine from between our thighs for a little bit more food, a sturdier cabin, a wider piece of land. We seduced to survive when our husbands were killed, transformed into strange fruit and became  single mothers before we even knew what a single mother was. Being used to staying home, keeping house, cooking the meals and taking care of the children, who would bring home the bacon now? So we seduced the caring man, who came by to console the grieving widow, fix the leaning  porch, and paint the shingles that the deceased husband kept putting off. He wasn’t handsome by a long shot, we didn’t have an ounce of love for him, but he brought in income, was nice to the children and completed the honey do list of repairs that our deceased husband left behind.

Then men started the trend of going to the store for a pack of cigarettes and returning twenty years later. Leaving us in a panic of “what the fuck am I going to do I have two+ hungry growing children and no money plus the rent’s due”.   Going to the baptist church for help, that we’d been attending for years and still not receiving any help because “funds are low” and “the church mortgage”, trying to find a job just to get every door slammed in our faces, and going down “to the welfare” for food stamps that would only get us powdered milk that our baby is allergic to and  cheese that rots after two days and a stipend that is barely enough to keep the lights on. So we did what we had to do. We let Ron who ran numbers down the block move in, pay our bills, give us money to keep our hair done and buy something nice, bought our children school clothes, and gave them lunch money so they wouldn’t have to be in the inferior free lunch group. We knew Ron did two bids in prison, put people in the morgue for owing money, and was still fucking Sheila from three blocks over. But Ron made sure we were taken care of.

We as single women without children started seducing men to survive when our parents abandoned us. Starving college student, dated the white Ivy League boy who had a fetish for black women and just wanted to piss his parents off. Dated the drug dealer who had money to burn and just wanted to show it off. Fucked the rich married guy, twenty years our senior so he could buy our books and pay at least half of our tuition so we could go back to school to have a place to sleep in the winter and complete our education.  Those of us who were homeless, jobless finessed the pushover for a place to call home and pretended to love him until death do us part so we didn’t have to struggle anymore. When times get hard and we lose our jobs, rent is due, the electric company sends a cut off notice and the only thing we have in our fridge is the end piece of the bread and a expired carton of almond milk. That inbox from that Lame Lance that constantly send you “Good Morning” messages looks enticing. So we do what we have to do. If you as a black woman, never used what you got to get what you needed you’re a damn liar.

When I was nineteen years old, my great aunt told me that if you I lay on my back for a man, I better make sure I wasn’t lacking a damn thing. Not even toilet paper. It’s innate in our DNA. In the book “Beloved”, Sethe let a cemetary groundskeeper fuck her from behind for ten minutes so that she could get a free inscription on her baby’s headstone. Sally Hemings was Thomas Jefferson’s mistress and bore his children so that she and her children could live comfortably. I laugh at how they romanticize that whole arrangement. Sally just didn’t want to be out there breaking her back in them fields from sunup to sundown, getting beat, raped and maimed by the overseer. Sleeping on a hard floor in a shanty being held together by sifting dirt and sticks. Sally did what she needed to do to keep her children together, prevent them from being sold away from her and each other. So she finessed Thomas Jefferson, without giving one ounce of a fuck that it was her half sister’s husband. I laugh… The people really believe that she walked around with flowing curly hair and a cute big dress with her titties propped up. Prancing around the house, flirting with the master openly. She still knew her “place” in the world, but behind closed doors, he knew hers. Of course the mistress hated her guts and so did the other slaves that had to work outdoors. But she did what she did for her children and their freedom.

When you’re a black woman, your back isn’t just up against a wall, your back is up against a metal door two inches thick.  So we do what we have to do to stay alive.


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