I think that it is safe to say that 2014 has definitely been a defining and redefining year for me in terms of being a woman. I never thought that it would become so important for me to have a better understanding of what it means to be a woman until this year alone. There are parts of myself that I finally had to face and I've been growing them through slowly, sometimes painfully, but surely. I've watched the word "feminism" spark heated discussions with others and I've watched others explain why they either believe in it or not. I've watched people use the ideal that a black woman choosing to be sexual sets back her race due to being sexualized and treated as a fetish during slavery as well as modern times. I've watched people create their own definitions of how a woman with a certain title should dress, behave and think...making me realize how uncomfortable some people are when women choose to exhibit behaviors outside of those "standards". And I've continuously watched some people readily use the terms whore or slut to refer to women whose sexual actions they did not agree with. Loaded terms + lots of opinions on how women should or should not be = very frustrated and fed up Jasmine.

I stumbled across this line from Common's (rapper/actor) song "The Questionsand it somehow seemed fitting: "yo, if I'm a intellectual, I can't be sexual"? While Common is very much so a man, this one line can be applied to the way that the world looks at women. For example, because a woman may receive her Bachelor's degree or Ph.d in the major of her choice, going on to secure a high paying job, working wonders in her career field, she cannot be sexual? Why is a woman somehow looked down on in this society for displaying the very same sexual behavior that the media suggests that she display? Better yet, why is a woman more likely to be condemned more so than a man? Oh dear, could it be that women are still merely looked at as objects and how dare one actually enjoy her sexuality, womanhood or, even better, receiving pleasure from sex? *Insert sarcastic gasp* Surely you'd think that the world wouldn't be as antsy about sex, considering a lot of us were formed in our mother's wombs because of, shocker, sex. 

As I've learned to come to terms with being a sexual assault survivor, I've began to find myself shedding the need to consult with others about how to find my level of comfort within my own womanhood and sexuality. The women that I've been blessed to meet this year have encouraged me, in some form or fashion, to simply trust what my heart feels and to go from there. I've seen firsthand how freeing it is when I shut out the noise of the others and have one-on-one discussions with myself about the things that either sit well with me or don't.

With that being said, I've learned this about my sexuality. It doesn't strictly boil down to my attraction to men. Yes, I think that the components that make up a man are beautiful but my sexuality doesn't revolve around that. It boils down to more than how much I may or may not enjoy sex. It is is me choosing to be comfortable in whatever it is that I choose to wear, no matter if every inch of my body is covered or some part of my body is exposed. It is being comfortable enough to respect the personal choices of others. It is also being comfortable enough to pay women as many compliments as I choose without feeling as if their existence somehow takes from my own. It is not allowing my sexual assault to negatively rule how I view my body any longer nor is it allowing myself to think that I am somehow dirty because of misguided choices I made after the assault took place. It  is knowing that it's okay for me to enjoy pleasure if that is what I choose, moving forward. It is not being confined by the standards that others think that I should or shouldn't have as a woman. It is something that reawakens the deepest parts of my soul and my mind that I shut off as a result of feeling fearful and ashamed. It is the internal song that has been playing louder, nudging me to feel comfortable in my skin. And it is something that I've had the courage to embark on a peace-making journey with.

It is truly not a complicated matter when you think about it. However, I'm sure that, despite how comfortable I may continue to grow in regards to my sexuality, there will be others who continue to analyze and pick apart the bodies and choices of women. I'm sure there will continue to be others who condemn women for either flaunting their bodies or expressing how much they love sex. I'm sure that others will still continue to allow themselves to be uncomfortable with a woman who hears the condemnations and is somehow still very comfortable within her womanhood. I've grown to realize that sometimes people do not have the strength to change what it is that they've been taught over the years and that's okay. People in general do the best with what they either have or know how to do in this lifetime. Being comfortable with one's sexuality isn't about convincing others to give you space to do so. I truly believe that one's sexuality doesn't lie in the hands of others, no matter how many people suggest otherwise. You DO have choices in this life and being comfortable with yourself, man or woman, is your choice as well as your right. No one gets to decide how you should or shouldn't go about doing those things.

Life is too short to be or do anything less than make makes YOU happy. Change the rules if you dare and be as comfortable in your skin as you feel the need to be.