MrMary Responds || The Erasure of Maya Angelou’s Sex Work History and Respectability Politics

downloadDr. Maya Angelou, American Poet Laureate, most famous for authoring I Know Why The Caged Bird Singspassed away at age 86 on May 28th, 2014. Her literary agent Helen Brann confirmed the news to press, and thus began a worldwide outpouring of grief. The top trending tag on Twitter was “RIP Maya Angelou” and, at the time of this writing, it is one of four Maya Angelou-related trending hashtags. She is hailed as a national best selling author, a genius, a spiritual God-, Grand-, and mother. She is lauded as everything Black women should aspire to emulate in life. So why is it very few of us know she was a sex worker in her youth? Why is it, even in her death, as in her life, it’s such a guarded secret? Why was this secret kept by seemingly everyone except Dr. Angelou herself?

excerpt taken from here

One thing I admired about Dr Angelou was her free spirit. Rather than spout ideology, she spoke from the heart. When I think of a feminist, Dr Angelou comes to mind. She spoke from the depth of a very human experience and didn’t rely on generalizations and sensationalist ideology to promulgate her message. Recently PolicyMic ran this article: What Maya Angelou’s Past Can Teach the Feminists of the Future. In the article they assert that Dr Angelou while she spoke for the black experience, she spoke for all women, about that aspect of the human condition that binds all women together. To quote Dr Angelou: “I speak to the black experience,” she said, “but I am always talking about the human condition — about what we can endure, dream, fail at and survive.” The author conclused by saying that “when feminism fixates on what other women should and should not be doing — from sex work to marriage, career paths and lifestyle choices — it loses its core mission of equality, diversity and acceptance. It fails its women, and it fails its leaders, such as Maya Angelou. As Angelou said, “The sadness of the women’s movement is that they don’t allow the necessity of love … I don’t personally trust any revolution where love is not allowed.”

I do not see why the media feels so recalcitrant to mention this aspect of her life when she was so free to talk about it. Dr. Angelou was never ashamed. Here is an excerpt from her Interview with Linda Wolf. If you have any thoughts about this or the role fo sex workers and changing attitudes towards their profession please feel free, comment


Maya (1)Linda: You’ve done a lot of things in your life that most people would judge as wrong. You’ve smoked pot, taken drugs, you were a madam for lesbian prostitutes, a teenage mom, a table dancer – you didn’t follow the straight and narrow. All these experiences gave you a rich life?

Dr. Angelou: Yes, but I wouldn’t suggest it for anybody. I mean, if you happen to fall into that sort of experience, what you have to do is forgive yourself. If you’re in the very gutter, see where you are and admit it. As soon as you admit it, you can be like the prodigal son, the prodigal daughter. Get up and go home – wherever home is. Get up and go to a safe place, someplace where your spirit is not kicked and brutalized and your body not misused and abused. Get up. But you can’t get up unless you see where you are and admit it. I wrote about my experiences because I thought too many people tell young folks, “I never did anything wrong. Who, Moi? – never I. I have no skeletons in my closet. In fact, I have no closet.” They lie like that and then young people find themselves in situations and they think, “Damn I must be a pretty bad guy. My mom or dad never did anything wrong.” They can’t forgive themselves and go on with their lives. So I wrote the book Gather Together in My Name. Meaning that all those grown people, all those adults, all those parents and grandparents and teachers and preachers and rabbis and priests who lie to the children can gather together in my name and I will tell them the truth. Wherever you are, you have got to admit it and set about to make a change. That’s why I wrote that book. It’s the most painful book I’ve ever written.

MrMary Responds || Perverted ‘Christian’ Dads Blame Teen’s Dress For Their Dirty Thoughts, Kick Her Out Of Prom

clareA 17-year old girl had her prom night ruined this month because a few dads chaperoning the event couldn’t keep their eyes off the girls or their minds out of the gutter. According to Clare Ettinger, some perverted fathers at the event were staring at her and talking about her. After that, a female organizer interrupted, pulled her aside and told her to leave because it was decided that her dress was causing some gross middle aged men to have “impure thoughts.” When Clare Ettinger attended the Richmond Homeshool Prom in Virginia with her boyfriend, she made sure she followed the dress code. Her dress abided by the “fingertip length” rule precisely and passed muster after being examined by a female organizer of the event. So, she walked onto the dance floor intent on having a good time with her friends. But the fun didn’t last long.

“I was told that the way I dressed and moved my body was causing men to think inappropriately about me, implying that it is my responsibility to control other people’s thoughts and drives,” Clare wrote on her sister’s blog. “I’m not responsible for some perverted 45 year old dad lusting after me because I have a sparkly dress on and a big ass for a teenager. And if you think I am, then maybe you’re part of the problem… I am so tired of people who abuse their power to make women feel violated and ashamed because she has an ass, or has breasts, or has long legs.”



Religion is an innocuous tool until put in the hands of idiots. Then it’s a potent hallucinogen lifting its users away from reality to the exalted realm of unbalanced fantasy. One major tenet of Christian thought is denying the sexual impulse. Sex is something dirty and one should only engage in it for procreation. This kind of thinking resulted in legions of men and women detached from their sexuality. For these persons, suppression trumps an understanding the how, when, who and why. When we suppress vital needs they always find irascible ways of manifesting themselves.

What is a dirty thought, and Why are they bad?

Before we even get to the meat and potatoes of the issue, let’s admit that the language used to talk about this kinda thing is flawed. The idea that there are dirty thoughts and clean thoughts is part of the problem, albeit how much of a part is up for debate. We have all sorts of thoughts ranging from the extremely conservative to the extremely liberal. What matters is what thoughts we choose to act on. Contrary to what many models, celebrities and draconian government officials think, having a thought is not a crime.

While we’re a species that needs to have sex to procreate we are also endowed with a pre-frontal cortex. We possess the ability to rationalize rationalize our need to procreate or even have sex away. So with that said let us look at what went down at this prom.

making sense of things

I think if you make the choice to be a chaperone at a prom and are overcome with impure thoughts, there is something wrong.

These Christian fathers should have been thrown out. Even at 17 year old I didn’t think much about 17 year old broads. I can understand how older guys like younger women, but a 17 year old girl is hardly a woman. A 17 year old girl hasn’t developed her nagging ability. She abilities in the realm of emotional manipulation skills are now powerful enough to make an agnostic man pray for death.

Finally, a suddent twist

This was unfair to Ms Ettinger.  However there is a slight twist to this story:

Another theory for why Clare was kicked out of her own prom was offered by someone who commented on the post. By viewing pictures of Clare and her boyfriend, you’ll notice that he is an African-American while she is a blond white girl. Could it be that racism played a role in how Clare was treated that night? After all, they were attending a prom for homeschooled kids in a southern state where conservative Christianity and racism collide. It’s not a leap to believe that many of the perverted fathers at the prom may have actually been objecting to a white girl dancing with a black man.

If this be the case then it was a grievous error. But it takes place in the South – the land of gravy sweating cousin fuckers as has been said It is kind of expected. I am biased, and think that race had a role to play in the complaints of these so called Christian dads. The only thing i don’t agree with is the use of patriarchy in the closing paragraph:

This massive show of support proves that sexists are outnumbered, but for some reason, conservative patriarchal chauvinists are still out there trying to hold women and girls back. Such a system no longer has a place in modern society where women are able to achieve more than being a man’s household slave or an object to be ogled. Perhaps it’s time to give patriarchy, and the sexism that comes with it, a swift kick in the balls. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always neutering.

Two things. First in my mind conservative patriarchal chauvinist is a euphemism for republican voting white guy. I wonder if a man does something that negatively affects a women is it patriarchy? I feel that patriarchy and sexism is like pollution in an ecology class; it is the answer for everything.  Guy gives a lesser tip to a female waitress then it patriarchy, guy cuts a girl off at the light and it patriarchy. Dont get me wrong, I believe that the”patriarchy” and sexism are a real problem  but …