Buckle up, sisters. Being the author and journalist I am, I listened, started taking notes on my cocktail napkin, and was awestruck by what I was hearing. One younger Black man in his 30s lamented, “I am a newlywed and my wife always wears that damn do-rag thing to bed, I feel like I am going to bed with a dude. She even keeps it on when we have sex because she does not want her hair to get messed up.”
I howled with laughter, then I realized he was quite serious. Another gentlemen in his early 40s chimed in, “Yeah, I have begged my wife to at least give the hair thing a rest a few nights a week — it is hard to feel connected sexually to my wife when she has hardware in her hair, or her hair is covered up and I cannot touch it. Very frustrating, but if I say something about it we end up in a huge fight. So I don’t say anything anymore to keep the peace.”
I could go on and on about what these men shared, but I wanted to write this article because it fits in with the theme I raise in chapter 4 and 5 of my new book, “Black Woman Redefined." Part of the “redefinition” that we as Black women have to confront is that feeling sexy about ourselves starts within and is exhibited in what we project. Many of us work hard, and have so much on our plates that we are dead tired by the time we hit the bed, and lovemaking, small talk, or connection with our mates is not a priority. We have to remember that men are wired as visual creatures and as such, they need to see a woman who is physically attractive and who feels confident about her hair and allowing him to touch, stroke, or run his hands through it.
In the national survey research with Black men (ages 20s-60s) conducted for my book (see chapter 4), we asked what Black men prefer in women of other races as opposed to Black women. One of things that was NOT a factor was “white hair” or “long hair” versus natural or short hair, however, what was a huge factor for the brothers in the focus groups was that white women (and others) were more comfortable, relaxed, and sexually open. These women do not go to bed with do rags, hair curlers or other things.
Now, sisters, before you get upset with me — hear me: I am well aware that our hair dictates more care and wrapping if we have shorter styles. I get it. I am a Black woman who does not wrap her hair or wear curlers to bed, but I have aunts, a mom and others in my family who do. But, this gets back to what we need to do to make sure that we are keeping it interesting and genuine in the bedroom with our mates.
What all of these men said was that they could not even broach the subject of “hair” with their wives or girlfriends because it became a fight. One man who was 37 said he had been with his wife for ten years, and other than their honeymoon and on special occasions, he has never been able to touch his wife’s hair or caress it during lovemaking because it is wrapped up and tied down.
My point is this: Our hair should not be interfering with our love lives, or our nighttime romance. Redefining ourselves means we are open to feedback, to listening and to changing if need be those things about our habits, rituals and personalities that end up costing us the love, happiness, and fulfillment we seek. I hope we can start a discussion here on ESSENCE.com because I am curious to hear from the sisters on this one.
Sophia A. Nelson is author of the new book, “Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama.”