Discussion on Crew Love / by Shanelle Gabriel

When I first heard Drake's song "Crew Love" featuringThe Weeknd, I remember thinking it was a dope song and beat, but his verse was so lackluster and off the theme.

I've been thinking a lot about sexuality and what that means today. While I'm about sexual freedom and against sex-shaming, I recognize that we still live in a world that views women as things to provide pleasure, visual stimulation, and fulfillment erotic desires. I look around at the different public and personal narratives around me, from media to the women/youth I interact with on a regular basis, and I'm not sure if this movement to free us from sexual chains is totally us "reclaiming our bodies" or us subconsciously self-objectifying ourselves. It's like are we sharecroppers on this sexual plantation thinking we are tilling the land for our own needs and desires but who's still holding the control? Not to mention that we have a generation of young women entering adulthood being told they have a right to enjoy all the beauties their bodies have to offer, to put them on display, to do what they want when they want with who they want, without considering the responsibilities that come along with this freedom. Becoming a well-rounded, healthy adult includes having healthy boundaries that are set by one's own personal needs and desires, not set by societal norms. I recognize that those limits vary by person, and some are definitely able to manage more fluid and open boundaries. However, I fear that our world is normalizing abuse of self through self-medication and acceptance of sexual norms as a one-size fits all. I never preached celibacy; that would be setting myself up for Jesus to write quite a number of things in the sand under my name. But not every situation or person is meant to follow the "Just Do It" mentality promoted. There are reasons to have sex that do not leave the soul intact for many people including doing it because you're "supposed to", because it's the only way to get ahead or gain popularity, because it's the only way to feel loved or fill in gaps in your life, or because it's the only way you know how you show someone you love them. I have had sex for all the reasons above, and while I'm sure some women are perfectly fine having regular sex-capades, scratching itches as they come, and reaping the benefits, I know for myself I cannot. And there are women and young people like me who can't either, who aren't ready to, who need to figure their own identities before subscribing to the energy needed for physical relationships, and who are aware of the historical power dynamic of our patriarchal world. It is not sexual oppression to teach someone to ask in the moment when presented with the opportunity,  if this is really want all of you (not just your body) wants and needs. Is this person is worthy of your time, energy, body, and space for the moment or for a lifetime? Are they giving you the tools to make a true decision or is it all a facade for them to gain access to you? Do they assume they're automatically supposed to have access to all of you and are you okay with submitting to that? When you wake up the next day or leave a few hours after, will you say to yourself, "That was my decision, and I'm good with it. My Lyft is here!"? Will you wake up with the same pain you've been trying to dull away? I ask all of this with no judgement on the answer, just recognizing that sex isn't as simple as the world makes it seem. That while many choose to label it a strictly physical thing for all to enjoy, for their own safety & sanity, there's a need for people to all make sure they know and "love themselves before loving the crew."