Jailhouse Makeover

Some people find the joy of Jesus in jail, others, the beneficence of Allah. For me it was the miracle of eyebrow-waxing. And just as religion changes lives, so too does a nicely shaped arch—opens up the whole face!

When I entered jail for the first time I did so as a free woman. As a social worker in a large, urban jail, I could come and go as I pleased. I could look however I wanted. So why was I a walking mug shot of eyebrow?

I think of it as my “before” picture.

Picture this: a woman to whom a razor had not extended its teasing touch in years. A woman who had never plucked, refusing on principle. The whole idea of paying so much attention to every detail of one’s appearance smacked of The Man’s agenda to keep women down. Force us to spend all of our time on dieting and nail polish and how our butts look in jeans and we will pay less attention to everything else. A brilliant scheme.


When He’s the One with the ‘Headache’

On my third date with Alexander, after he stripped me down to my underwear, I reached for the metal button on his jeans. Hard and out of breath, he blurted, “I don’t want to have sex.” My hand froze at his waist. “I mean, I don’t want to have sex yet,” he clarified.

I felt relieved. I, too, didn’t want to move too fast. After a series of meaningless sexual experiences, I wanted more. Four, five, maybe six dates, I reasoned, then sex.

So when Alexander said we should wait, I thought perfect. A 26-year-old man who wanted more than just sex? I had hit the dating jackpot. Alexander and I continued to see each other and continued to not have sex. We bathed together and spent the night in each other’s beds. Still, no sex.

As the weeks wore on, however, what had at first seemed sweet began to feel tired. One night, after Alexander came and I didn’t, he asked if I was “feeling satisfied.” I said no.

“It’d be nice if we could have sex,” I said. Not wanting to sound like a pressuring teenage boy from a health-class video, I added, “But I guess I understand why we’re waiting.” I didn’t, though. Not really. Alexander had explained to me that after his last relationship—“a waste of a year”—he wanted to be “serious” about someone before he slept with her. What wasn’t clear was why sex meant serious.

In spite of what popular culture would have us believe, could there exist a large population of men that wants meaning with a side of sex, as opposed to the other way around? Is a no-sex policy a growing trend among younger men? Just as we women become increasingly comfortable with meaningless sex, just as we’re unleashing our sexual desires and exhibiting power both inside and outside of the bedroom, men, it seems, are saying no. But why? And more importantly, how are we—women raised to believe any straight man worth his masculinity should want sex anytime, always—supposed to deal with that?


Why Interracial Love Is Still Hard

The miscegenation of our society may seem to be growing at a steady rate based on how often we’ve been talking about race lately. But let’s not kid ourselves. Interracial relationships represent approximately seven percent of couples in the country, which is incredible progress considering they represented just .07 percent in 1960. But for our ever-diversifying nation, these are alarmingly low figures. For the most part, everyone is stillsticking to their “own kind.” Is this intentional segregation or just cultural tradition? Could be both. But one thing remains certain: Every interracial couple entering into a serious relationship knows what struggles lie ahead. Maybe that’s why 93 percent would just rather avoid them.

I can’t say I blame them. I’m white, and I lead a very happy life with my black husband. Our familieslove us and our friends are accepting. Of course it helps that we live in Los Angeles, a big city that’s had a longer time to get used to multiculturalism and interracial couples than most. Still, we experience little daily reminders of just how far we have yet to go to reach complete acceptance in this country—a raised eyebrow here, a snarky comment there, just enough to remind us that we’restill discriminated against. And we’ve got it easy compared to most: Had we been born at different times and in different states, we’d never have had a chance.