By now you’ve read (or should have read) my response to the viral article “I Am a Single Christian Woman and I Like Sex”. I had posted my response on Twitter, and as per my custom, I tagged the original author. Usually, when I do this, the original author does not respond, and I thought this instance would be no different. But I was wrong. Lo and behold I was greeted with the following Twitter thread the next morning:
Her piece garnered a lot of criticism and comment, and so I imagine that her response to me was written within the context of feeling defensive over what she had written. Her response to me didn’t sound like she was open to constructive criticism, elaboration or discussion, which is unfortunate.
Here’s the thing: if I publicly declare and personally believe in my personal choices, I am not going to spend time defending myself. I know what I believe — I don’t need approval or ascent from others. When I write something, I post it and leave it alone. If you agree great. If you disagree, interesting. But I said what I said. There will be no Twitter battles, no back-and-forth — I got things to do. So whenever someone responds in such a defensive and snarky manner, it makes me wonder about the merit of their original argument. Defensiveness often points to a latent insecurity in the soundness of your belief or argument. If your argument cannot stand against criticism, then you don’t have a strong argument. And when you open your response by acting like you are doing me a favour by responding, and you choose to attack the length of my response and the graphics employed instead of its merits, then, to quote Candice herself, “Issa wave.”
Plus, there’s the fact that she doesn’t know me or where I’m coming from (and I don’t know her), so there’s that.
I feel like she misread, misinterpreted, and misunderstood what I had written.
So, a few things:
Just because I briefly cite Max Lucado in an allegedly 3902-word blog post does not mean that I espouse or embrace a White-washed Christianity. I did not dismiss the struggle of being a Black woman in a world that does not like Black women. In fact, I acknowledged it outright. I do not know or understand where she got the idea that I was leaning on Whiteness to get through this world.
While I understand the need to tell me that you admire my truth and vulnerability, in the context of your lengthy piece, it’s patronizing. I get it. It’s cool to say that we value people’s truth and then use quirky language, cuss words and dope gifs to dismiss it. Issa wave.
I am not responsible for how people receive or interpret what I’ve written. While I don’t believe I was patronizing in the least (I honestly think I was quite nice, open, transparent and vulnerable myself), if she thinks it’s patronizing, then there is no convincing her.
Also… ummm… I did not cuss. At least, I don’t think the language I used counts as cussing. I used expressions that people in my generation use — some of them admittedly rather crass (“dick,” “giving head,” “vaginal penetration” etc.). But I did not cuss. She actually swears in her own writing/tweets. I remember a verse about removing a “plank” from your own eye… I also didn’t use gifs… Are we reading the same piece???
The theological framework that grounds me affirmation of my body and sexual agency is, first, grounded in a relationship with a God who made me good. It is also not dependent upon the voices of White people who long to make flesh/spirit distinctions that God did not.
But I actually agree. In fact, isn’t that exactly what I had written? See here:
I think it is wrong and patriarchial to tie a woman’s worth or worthiness as a spouse to her sexual purity. I think it is unfair that Christian women are often held to a standard of purity to which men are never socially expected to ascend. I do advocate that women, including Christian women, become acquainted with and not fear their sexual selves. Sex is good and holy and sexuality is natural and God is very pro-sex (I mean, He created it), and it is so, so, very unfortunate that the church is more known for controlling women’s bodies than for disseminating this truth.
God does see us in the totality of who we are and never as a sexual being fighting to become a spiritual one. It’s the idea that we’re not good enough if we are sexual. But the fact of the matter is that we were always good enough. Yes — we can be sexual and spiritual, erotic and prayerful. They are not mutually exclusive.
A word on word counts: Can I tell you that I, the author who penned my response, didn’t even know that my response was 3902 words? I find it odd that someone who took so much issue with the word count would do the due diligence of copying and pasting my response into Microsoft Word, look up the word count, and yet still read and respond to (and misunderstand) every word.
That said, I stand by my word count. Just because someone pens a response almost four times the length of the original does not make that response inherently condescending. It simply means that I had a lot to say. I’ve never been known for concision. I remember when I first started blogging, many sites advised that blog posts be kept to around 500 words. I can’t tell you the last time that I’ve kept to a 500-word count. I do remember posting my blog post somewhere and one person commented simply, “I could not read all of it sorry.” While posting my written work online invites commentary, I didn’t find that comment to be particularly helpful.
I used to be sympathetic but I’ve recently come to the conclusion that it is not my fault if someone cannot (or will not) read through several thousand words in an online format, or lacks the attention span to do so. In a world where people read entire books (no doubt longer than 3902 words) on Kindle or an e-reader, and in a world where I certainly had to read thousands of words of court cases several pages long online, and in a world where we have essayists like Ta-Nehisi Coates who write pieces of a similar length or even longer — pieces that are still widely read, might I add — I no longer feel sorry for the length of my posts.
I started this blog with the primary purpose of sharing my thoughts in an unbridled fashion, albeit in a public forum. I admit that I am more of an essayist than a blogger. I will not start censoring myself, however, nor will I start keeping myself to a word limit. “Well, don’t you write so that people will read what you’ve written?” No, not really. That is the secondary goal. I write so that I can say “I have written.” Writing is the aim. Having readers is a bonus. I’ve always believed that those who are interested and those who need to read what I have written will read what I have written, and this belief has been proven time and time again. And, of note, despite it being 3902 words, it seems as though Candice surely did read it.
What I can do, and what I tried to do, is to break up such a long essay with photos (not gifs, as Candice wrongly indicated. The difference is not important here, but I feel like if we’re going to criticize something, we ought to know what we are talking about).
But yeah, I write long blog posts. Deal with it.
I could’ve written all that I wrote above in response, but I know it would’ve fallen on deaf ears. When someone is defensive and combative and snarky, reasoning with them won’t do anything, and by the tone of her response, Candice did not seem open to reason or discussion. So instead I decided to take the high road, keep it short (she doesn’t like reading long pieces after all) and say:
What are your thoughts? Is Candice right?