Reclaiming Sexual Wellness for Black Girls Like Me
This is my love letter to you, Black women and girls, who deserve all the healing, and all the pleasure in the world … I created this space. A space in which reconnecting with your body, stepping out of the shackles of shame and trauma is the goal.
Written by Nicole Adjei
Illustrations by In.Lo
Content Warning: Sexual Assault.
This year, I started a sexual wellness brand, Noir Naughty. A one-stop shop for pleasure we sell vibrators, guides on sexual exploration and adult audio entertainment – a full curation of indulgence centred around a demographic who have often been raised to be anything but indulgent – Black women.
I moulded my brand this way for so many reasons – because there’s currently a pleasure tech boom, because I believe Black women deserve to be catered for; with the disproportionate rates of abuse and our often conservative cultures, we deserve to have a safe space. Objectified, hyper-sexualised yes, but black women and sex rarely centred in healthy, happy exploration. So when people asked why I launched Noir Naughty, this is what I would tell them.
Yet there was always a pause, a hesitation – a little whisper that would say, you liar. Not because I don’t truly believe in these reasons, but because I had been leaving out the one thing that had given me such depth in need to pour my energy into this venture. It was only after repeating this almost-whole story to several wonderful women that I had met at a networking event, that I could hear the echoes of the parts of my story that I left untold.
I woke up the next day going through the motions of answering my emails, checking orders: the mundane and necessary, until I found myself in a flood of tears. One of the women I had spoken to talked about how so many Black women’s first experience with sex is abuse, and despite therapy, and having heard this point many times before, it finally clicked. That was me, but I had allowed myself to dissociate, again.
I had decided some time ago that because my first experience with sex was abusive, it didn’t have to count, and in some respects, I still think this to be true. When I think of the first time I engaged in ‘going all the way’, it was a very different experience from the first time it had encroached upon me. However, the very profound effect that being raped had on me as a woman, as a girl, and the ways in which I’ve grown around that wound requires such tenderness and has to be acknowledged. Having to heal in a world that can often be harsh, around cultures that are not well equipped to deal with complex and taboo topics such as rape –despite it being an unfortunately common experience for women within them– is enraging.
So this was my missing reason, the blazing core at its most honest and true: healing. There was a time when the relationship I felt so lucky to have with my body was diminished. I didn’t want to look at it. I blamed it. I felt disconnected and the wearing of my own skin felt heavy, and every now and then it still does.
The difference now is the journey I’ve been on with my body, and a lot of that is to do with rediscovering pleasure, getting used to the sensation of being touched, and I don’t even mean being touched by another. It started with the simple act of enjoying having a shower again, the joy of feeling water coat my skin and once again seeing the shine that I felt I had lost forever. The act of taking care of myself, loving myself. Small, simple acts of defiance against the aversion that I had grown towards myself.
The reclamation of what was mine was slow at first. Yet, when I looked around for how women before me, who like me, had found their way back to themselves from this lonely abyss, I was shocked almost to the point of humour to find that a wank was changing women’s lives. This left me with a question:
Would revisiting my self-pleasure feel like trying to run for the first time after breaking an ankle? Would I break?
The answer is: no I would not break – in fact, I would be forever grateful to myself; After years of suppressing dark memories and problematic behaviours, I was beginning to address the loss of innocence that I felt. I was digging through the pain, and allowing it to flow, and now I was healing. Every time I sat with myself, whether it was just to massage my legs or to masturbate, I felt a chipping away at the blockages that had built up from all the trauma left under my skin, and in this I felt my sense of pleasure being reborn. I felt a deep growing respect for the joy that my body deserves. The healing is not linear, and there were many moments I felt a depth of loneliness that I would never pray upon a person for as long as I live, yet there was now light at the end of the tunnel – a blossoming appreciation for not only what my body can hold and endure, but an appreciation for how we can heal, and I vow never to take that, or my body for granted again.
It soon dawned on me that there are so many like me, girls I love and know and those who I don’t know, who have yet to find their way out of the abyss. I wanted to pour this practice of indulgent healing into their lives, so created a space. A space in which reconnecting with your body, stepping out of the shackles of shame and trauma is the goal. Creating audio erotica to tap into the imagination, senses, and desires – and making them accessible. Exploring how sexual pleasure is sexual health, not an afterthought, and never selfish. Teaching ways to look at our bodies again, and how to get back in touch with the body through intimate accessories that can make the journey back to self fun.
Noir Naughty is young and it’s fragile, but I feel proud to have come so far on my journey. This is my love letter to you, Black women and girls, who deserve all the healing, and all the pleasure in the world – you deserve your minds tended to, and your bodies too. We deserve great relationships with sex outside of what it does for our partners, outside the gaze of seduction. This body that holds us up and carries us through life deserves attention from you.