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How Sex Workers Taught Me to Hustle

Twenty years ago, Friday and Species were blowing up at the box office. Groove Theory’s “Tell Me” and Notorious B.I.G’s “One More Chance (Remix)” were in heavy rotation on my Sony Walkman. I had just graduated from high school in Philadelphia and was finally dealing with my sexuality. This was the summer sex workers… » 8/21/15 4:03pm 8/21/15 4:03pm

The Sexual Politics of Playing Mas in Brooklyn

With Brooklyn’s spring thaw in full effect, I’m having lots of conversations with my girlfriends about warm weather activities: like long bike rides, picnics in Prospect Park, and, unfortunately, the inevitable uptick in sexualized street harassment. Just last week, I heard myself saying, “I want to be respected in… » 4/25/15 3:19pm 4/25/15 3:19pm

The Sockman and Me: Encounters With a Friendly Neighborhood Fetishist

Recently, my sister forwarded me a picture taken of me in the summer of 1986. I'm standing in front of my parents' pool, holding out a fish I had caught earlier that day. I have one hand on my hip and I'm leaning to the side so as to keep the fish up. What most struck me about the picture were my socks. They cover my… » 4/02/15 10:45am 4/02/15 10:45am

My Year Ripping Off the Web With the Daily Mail Online

On July 11 of last year, I arrived to work at the MailOnline newsroom in New York City and saw Keith Poole, our managing editor, standing outside smoking a cigarette. Even from a hundred yards away, it was clear that Poole—a generally pleasant Englishman who was the managing editor of the Daily Mail at the time—was… » 3/04/15 5:50pm 3/04/15 5:50pm

Storytime With Mom: A Genealogy of Rape

"If two people come together," my mother began, "who've never had any power except by the way of abuse, it's going to be bad. Both of us had power exerted over us as children. I eventually learned that as an adult, I was still doing the dance, seeking out abusive relationships. That doesn't mean it was my fault. But… » 3/01/15 3:13pm 3/01/15 3:13pm

Students' Stories of Depressingly Common Run-Ins with Campus Cops

Saturday night, after reading Times columnist Charles Blow's account of his son's detainment at gunpoint by Yale campus police, I was transported back to my own run-in with UCLA campus police in 2009. It was a typically relaxed Sunday evening, and I was headed home from the library. As I passed Ackerman Student Union… » 1/27/15 4:49pm 1/27/15 4:49pm

How Should an Abortion Be?

A pregnant woman I didn't know struck up a conversation with me at a party recently. We chatted amicably about the weather (bad), the Golden Globes (fine) and the food at the party (great) before the conversation turned—inevitably, it felt—towards birth (hers). She told me she was nervous but excited, that she could… » 1/23/15 11:50am 1/23/15 11:50am

When the Opera Acts Like It's Never Seen a Black Person Before

The man at the opera tells me I'm disgusting, but in a lot of ways, he's lucky. There is no moisture in the air. I slept the night before in braids. It's a matinee, so I'm holding a very strong day vibe: more Tracee Ellis-Ross in Black-ish than Diana Ross's 1983 Central Park performance. My hair is being tame for my… » 1/20/15 12:10pm 1/20/15 12:10pm

My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK

The fourth time a Poughkeepsie police officer told me that my Vassar College Faculty ID could make everything OK was three years ago. I was driving down Wilbur Avenue. When the white police officer, whose head was way too small for his neck, asked if my truck was stolen, I laughed, said no, and shamefully showed him… » 11/30/14 2:30pm 11/30/14 2:30pm

NYPD Harassment Stories: Feeling Helpless When an Officer Hits on You

Amid the police terror that has swept the nation these last few months, there has been a missing facet from the conversation: the fact that women are brutalized by cops just as severely as men. For every John Crawford and Ezell Ford there is an Ersula Ore or a Marlene Pinnock (you can view the footage of Pinnock's… » 9/16/14 4:59pm 9/16/14 4:59pm

The Things We Suffer

It's a Thursday night in August, just past 10 p.m., and my mother is texting me. This might seem like a harmless nuisance except my mother is not supposed to text me. Two years ago I asked her to give me space and not reach out. She responded with an "ok" and proceeded to respect my wishes for 13 days. Nobody's mother… » 9/09/14 3:13pm 9/09/14 3:13pm

Have a Horrible Christmas With This Insane Issue of That's Life! Mag

According to its website, That's Life! is "Britain's leading real-life magazine." Each issue is packed with "the most inspirational, emotional and incredible reads that will leave you stunned and surprised." And Christmastime is no different: 'Tis the season for adultery, betrayal and murder. » 12/09/13 1:50pm 12/09/13 1:50pm

Positivity is Bullshit When You Have Cancer

My eyelashes are mascara-less stumps and I’ve been commando in the same stained, hot pink sweats for 36 hours, but I don’t care. It’s 2011, and my mom and I are at my grandmother’s house in Michigan hoping for some rest after a hellish year spent cycling through chemo, radiation, and surgeries. » 11/23/13 3:14pm 11/23/13 3:14pm

Confessions of a Recovering Black Debutante

I'm a recovering debutante. I wouldn't go as far as saying a belle because I ain't with that frilly froo froo. Or girdles. I have a brain and I use it. I don’t own too many slips, or dresses, or wear much white. I don’t own a lacy parasol except for that one time where I had to accessorize with my lace ribbons for my… » 9/14/13 1:00pm 9/14/13 1:00pm