I’m a great believer in the power of women telling their own stories, and for me the best part of Senseisha: Memoirs of the Caribbean Woman is that it is entirely non-fiction.
Yes, there is a woman who found herself at a group orgy when she thought she was going to have a thoroughly boring night. Yes, there is a woman who started flirting with the man who answered her query about hotel accomodation whilst planning a work trip, and she hooked up with him on her arrival. And yes, there is a story about a 9 year old girl who describes her first orgasm with another girl in such vivid colour that you kinda feel a lil guilty for feeling turned on by the sexual acts of children. Yes these stories are non normative but then deep down so are many of us, and probably lots of you can identify with stories like this. Your first awareness of your own sexuality growing up. Having your period and feeling embarassed to tell your Mother. Your first boyfriend taking advantage of you, and what started as a consensual act becoming rape, and influencing your future relationships with men long into the future.
Senseisha is divided into the following sections:
First Time Experiences
Love and Intimacy
Embracing the Taboo
The title of the sections are fairly self explanatory. All sorts of first time experiences are recounted including those I referenced in the first paragraph. Coming out focuses on how the authors came to terms with their own sexuality. Whether it was through the feminist writings of people like June Jordan, Audre Lourde and Patricia Hill Collins as cited in ‘Where is the love?’ or in spite of the hatred experienced in ‘My Sexuality and My Church’ which includes this excerpt:
Soon enough the Pastor’s family knew every detail of the situation, and within a few weeks the entire church knew. I bravely returned to church Sunday after Sunday to be greeted by whispers, avoidance and sermons about homosexuals, abomination and hell. The people I once spoke to frowned upon me and walked away if I attempted to greet them; the hugs I once received from deaconesses turned to quick, dry waves from afar; the laughs after church with fellow youth leaders were exchanged for grunts and stares. The love of the church was gone and I eventually stopped going to church.
All you romantics will probably turn straight to the ‘Love and Intimacy Section’ and those who like a frisson of extra naughtiness will head straight to ‘Embracing the Taboo’ which includes a story about one of the topics we have been chatting about a lot on this platform recently. A story about a 33 year old woman and her out of this world sex with a 19 year old boy (man?) very appropriately entitled ‘The Younger Man’.
Not all the stories in this anthology will turn you on. Stories like ‘Diary of a Punching Bag’ are tough to read, and when I initially flipped through this collection in January this year I thought to myself that these should have been reserved for a separate book on violence against women but I’ve come to the conclusion that I was wrong. Senseisha is about women’s sexual memoirs and the sad reality is that women’s sexual experiences are not always as positive, passionate and as pleasure filled as Adventures would like it to be. This is an anthology I will dip into periodically and I can happily recommend you get your own copy here.