Black Girls and Sexuality: Tovonna Holton’s Story

TOVONN HOLTON

An image of Tovonna Holton

A fifteen year old, Black girl named Tovonna Holton’s suicide caught my attention because it is purely tied into the perception of Black women’s sexuality. She allegedly took a gun from her mother’s purse and shot herself to death after a nude video of her in the shower was leaked to Snap Chat. This video was supposedly leaked by her ex boyfriend. Holton was so humiliated by the nude video being leaked that she committed suicide. However her tragic story emphasizes the misconstruction and denigration of Black women’s sexuality and body in a White supremacist, patriarchal society.

There has been many incidents of young girls committing suicide after their nude pictures or videos have been leaked online. Nineteen year old, Alyssa Funke committed suicide after acquaintances found out that she was filming nude videos at a porn company in 2014. Tovonna’s case isn’t much different in Alyssa Funke’s case because both girls were so humiliated by backlash from others about their sexual indiscretions that they committed suicide. But what really caused these girls to commit suicide? Well, society harshly policies women’s bodies and sexuality. Men can have all the sexual partners and do many sexual deeds and still be respected. Women aren’t given the same benefit of a doubt. Women are supposed to be these pure, maidens when they are married. She isn’t supposed to dress ”slutty” or go against what society deems as sexually acceptable behavior. If she does, she is vilified as a whore, slut etc and faces repression from family, friends and society at large. This is done so that they can keep women ”in line” and curtail their expression of their sexuality. Many people can argue that both Tovonna and Alyssa committed suicide because they didn’t want to face the consequences of what their actions meant for them and their lives. There is some truth to this but this mindset only blames the victim and doesn’t condemn the wider sexist conditioning our society eschews. However I truly believe that the cause of their deaths is a patriarchal society that continues to police and uphold archaic and sexist standards of womanhood that seeks to control and erase women’s sexuality.

Image of Alyssa Funke

 

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Image of Tovonna Holton

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How are Black women’s sexuality affected by sexist double standards in society and the Black collective?

Black girls and women already face with racist and sexist stereotypes about their sexuality. From the media reports of Black girls and women being degraded by racists to other Black people policing Black women’s bodies, it isn’t easy being a young, Black girl in this society. The average Black woman is already seen and considered a bitch, whore, slut and a baby mama by the masses of Whites and non Black people even before they get to know the individual Black woman. Black collective paints Black women as ”thots”(those hoes over there), hoes and bitch from nasty lyrics by rappers and reality TV shows that depict Black women in such a light. Along with the lack of protection and denigration Black women face, Black female victims of rape, molestation and murder are blamed for their abuse. Especially in the Black collective. Often times, Black girls are deemed as ”fast tail girls” by many Black elders if they express any kind of sexual liberation or expression. The wider society would deem a young, Black girls, who express sexual liberation, as whores and sluts and unclean compared to their White female counterparts. That is why pop star, Rihanna is routinely shamed as a whore or loose while the likes of Taylor Swift are protected and uplifted as women despite their sexual indiscretions.

Although both Tovonna Holton and Alyssa Funke faced backlash for their nude and sexual pictures and videos, Alyssa Funke didn’t have to go through the racism, sexism and intra racism that Tovonna went through. It isn’t to say that White women don’t go through their own struggles with sexism, which they do however Black women’s struggle is intersectional. Intersectionality is a term coined by Black feminist, Kimberely Crenshaw in 1989 that speaks about how varying oppression intersects for various groups of people. Black women go through racism and sexism in wider society and colorism, misogynoir and intra racism in the Black collective. White women deal with sexism and double standards due to their sexuality but are still protected by society due to racial privilege. Black girls and women aren’t given the same benefit of a doubt that their White counterparts are given. Tovonna would have more than likely be labeled ”fast” by older Black women and a whore by wider society while many will sympathize with Alyssa Funke. Hence the reason why there will be more people who have more compassion for Alyssa Funke and her story than Tovonna Holton’s story.

Though I don’t necessarily approve of filming porn videos or taking nude pictures, I believe that women’s sexuality shouldn’t be harshly policed. Particularly not Black women’s sexuality. The ultimate cause of Tovonna Holton’s suicide was not just a gun shot wound but society’s strict and rigid disdain and policing of a young, Black girl’s sexuality

 

2 thoughts on “Black Girls and Sexuality: Tovonna Holton’s Story

    • Respectability politics is the main culprit in these situations. A woman’s sexuality is heavily policed in society while a man is rewarded for expressing his sexuality. All of this goes back to patriarchy trying to control women’s bodies.

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