A blog by Amanda Alcantara

Monday, November 25, 2013

Letter to the Sister who Called me the "S" word

Dear sister who told me to stop being a slut while we were out dancing that one time,

I get it. I was tipsy, and wearing a bodycon leopard print dress that left nothing to the imagination. My curves were on fire as I took the dance floor and when you asked me if I was having a good time, I started talking about the guys who I was dancing with.

I write this with a little bit of regret already for typing these words. You see, I've always been told that certain matters should be kept private. I grew up fearing my sexuality. Scared to speak up for myself, my desires, and my needs. But thankfully a lot has changed. It took readings, experiences, and meeting a lot of bad-ass radical women and folks who are open about having sexual fluidity for me to appreciate my body, understand it, and listen to it.

And so I'm still typing.

Sister, I get it: I wasn't sitting around waiting to be asked to dance. I held a man's hand and took him with me. My instincts guiding my way, like a lioness with my leopard print dress, I became a beast on the dance-floor. Giving my body what it wanted: some music, y un tipo to hold my waist while I was at it. I danced salsa, merengue, bachata, de todo.

Sister, I get it. We aren't told to be that way. Women have to be proper and look cute and slowly let our foot tap to the music while desperation eats at us wondering who's gonna ask us to dance. And somehow, how much attention we manage to get determines our value. Well, I don't wait. I go to whom I wanna dance with. I determine my own value by saying that I deserve to give myself as many songs as I want.

Sister who told me to stop being a slut, I'm sorry that my sexuality intimidates you. But I understand where you're coming from, I've been there too. Gossiping about another sister and the dudes that she's been with. Realize that by doing that, by devaluing a woman, we are taking away from her sexual agency. Turning her into prey again and again. And I'm not saying that it's your fault, or my fault, it's simply what we've been told.

Society turns us into prey with its contradictions...we have to be both good and bad. Both "pure" and virgins pero experienced: "una señora en la calle y una fiera en la cama". I'm done with that. I'm healing with every song that I dance, every glance that I give. And I invite you to heal too. Give yourself what your body needs, whether it's music, passionate nights, or no-sex-at-all-ever. And freedom to pick who you want to be with.

When those vile assumptions came out of your mouth, I felt like I was punched in the ribs. We can't be sexually free if there's no freedom from false assumptions and degrading labels. If you aren't free, than neither am I. Maybe that's why being called a slut will continue hurting until we challenge the patriarchal narrative behind it. That word comes with so much pain and shame. I'm not a puta, I'm not sumisa... I am a woman.


Unknown said...

I understand it's very difficult for some women to embrace and enjoy their sexuality when it gets demonized in the mainstream. For example corny telenovelas and movie plots are usually virgin/whore. Good for you, that you are confident enough to pull it off.

Amanda Alcantara said...

Thanks ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi there. Thank you for writing this. I am a Mexican-American woman, and I can relate to your experience. However, mine is on the other extreme. I am an introvert who likes to stay home most of the time. Movies and books and sipping wine with a few friends is all I need to have a good time. (Though sometimes I wish I had your zest and confidence to tear it up on the dance floor!). And I still get criticized, sometimes by my own family. I get the typical: Por que no sales? or You are getting old too fast. Go out! Sigh. What are we going to do? I worried at first, but now, I am confident enough to make my own choices about how to live my own life. I am happy to see so many Latinas such as yourself coming out and owning their self.
I wish you the best of luck in your career and hope that you continue to inspire Latinas all over the globe.

Amanda Alcantara said...

Hi Anon, I hope you get an email when I reply! Thank you so much for your feedback and your words. It definitely hasn't been easy getting to a place where I feel comfortable accepting that I'm 'outgoing' or even writing about it. I encourage you to write about your experience too, let me know if you want to put it on here. Or just write about it for yourself. It helps to reflect on these things and put them in the context of what society asks from us in order to gain confidence and understand ourselves. Gracias por tus palabras de encouragement, y p'alante ;)

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