How to creatively theorise the wonder of erotica: a womanist’s poetic manifesto on sexual desire and pleasure

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Theory provokes and stimulates. This theoretical essay blurs the boundaries between academic and creative non-fiction writing to illustrate Black women artists mining self-serving economies of embodied, affective pleasure by crafting womanist erotica, that is, Black woman/girl-centred, eros-charged art, music, and literature. I play with words to produce a polyvocal diptych essay theorising the wonder of womanist erotica and elucidating my politics, perspectives and practices as a Black woman(ist) creative writer and educator concerned with Black women and girls’ sex education. My illumination of, and indulgence in, corporeal pleasure is underpinned by knowledge of (a) the pain that characterises many Black women and girls’ educational and schooling experiences broadly, but also specifically with regards to sex education; and (b) the racialised, gendered, and culturally situated feeling of shame that arises for many during sexual play, that is, during our participation in sexually (self-)gratifying acts. Hence, I offer a potent(ially) viscerally pleasurable reading experience while aiming to deepen intellectual and embodied understandings of the empowering rapture that womanist erotica can ignite. In addition to naming and (re)claiming sexual desire as a prerogative, I think through womanist erotica as a tool for excavating a spiritually rooted erotic economy of (self-)pleasure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-253
Number of pages9
JournalSex Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • Black women and girls
  • Womanism
  • erotica
  • race and gender
  • sex education teaching guide


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