Weekend Read: Writer Monique Matthews Makes the Case for Celibacy in Her Book, “Sex Free”

Excerpt from


Recently,  I  had  breakfast  with  one  of  my  dearest  college   friends  who,  because  of  work  and  other  life  responsibilities,  I   don’t  often  spend  as  much  time  with  as  I’d  like.

“Mo,  I’m  thinking  of  getting  my  tubes  tied.”    I  looked   up  to  find  Star  pouring  syrup  on  her  recently  arrived  waffles   with  fresh  strawberries  and  cream.    The  comment  had  to  come   from  her,  as  there  was  no  one  at  the  restaurant’s  table  besides   the  two  of  us,  but  her  nonchalant  demeanor  seemed  to  directly   counter  the  statement  I  just  heard.
The  fork  went  limp  in  my  hand.    This  was  quite  a  way   to  start  breakfast.

“What  do  you  think?”  she  asked.    But,  by  the  dazed   and  confused  expression  on  my  face,  she  already  knew.

“I  think  it’s  pretty  drastic.    That’s  major  surgery,”  I   finally  mustered.

Upon  further  research,  I  realized  that  it  didn’t  have  to   be.    While  some  still  undergo  general  anesthesia  to  have  their   fallopian  tubes  seared  to  prevent  an  embryo  from  developing   in  their  uterus,  a  growing  number  of  gynecologists  perform   the  cutting  of  a  woman’s  reproductive  organs  by  inserting   implants  in  an  outpatient  procedure,  which  lasts  less  than  an   hour.    Thus,  although  tubal  ligations  are  still  considered  a permanent  method  of  birth  control,  they  are  no  longer   considered  major  surgery.
Still,  I  was  having  difficulty  dealing  with  the  fact  that   someone  I  care  so  deeply  for  was  willing  to  rip  apart  her   insides  because  her  outside  reality  didn’t  look  so  bright.    More   specifically,  Star’s  career  was  peaking,  but  her  love  life  was   not.    Star  also  has  a  few  health  complications,  which  now   prevent  her  from  taking  the  pill,  so  she  thought  having  her   tubes  tied  was  the  most  rational  alternative.
“How  about  you  just  stop  sleeping  with  men  you  don’t   like?”    I  asked.

She  looked  at  me  like  I  was  crazy.    Mind  you,  I  did  not   suggest  she  stop  sleeping  with  men  period;  just  learn  to   eliminate  the  ones  who  she  did  not  get  along  with  outside  the   bedroom.

Yet,  as  Star  looked  at  me  and  I  looked  at  her,  we  both   knew  the  reality  of  being  a  single  woman  in  the  dating  game  –   sex  is,  all  too  often,  a  prerequisite,  not  a  reward.

Ladies,  when  did  the  rules  change?

When  we  were  in  our  teens  and  early  20s,  we  were  told   to  wait  for  someone  special.    Now,  it  doesn’t  seem  to  matter  if   he’s  special  or  not,  if  he  has  a  xy  chromosome  and  is   breathing,  most  of  us  are  willing  to  make  a  play.    We  are   encouraged  to  buy  into  the  scarcity  and/or  poverty  mentality   that  there  isn’t  enough,  and  instead  of  believing  we  can  find the  man  who’s  our  perfect  match,  we  just  want  a  man.  And,  of   course,  I  get  statistics.    I  read  them  too.    But,  numbers  don’t   tell  the  full  story.

For  instance,  even  in  the  deepest  economic   recession,  someone,  somewhere,  is  prospering.    Apply  that   philosophy  to  love,  and  you  may  be  among  those  who  thrive   in  this  field  as  well.

But,  instead  of  focusing  on  how  we  can  be  one  of  the   ones  who  succeed  in  love  and  life,  most  of  us  allow  the   negative  to  overwhelm  us.      Then,  driven  by  the  fear  of   competition,  such  as  vast  amounts  of  single  women  and   dwindling  resources,  or  the  shortage  of  available,  heterosexual   men,  we  give  up  too  much  of  ourselves  before  most  of  us  are   ready  to  do  so.

One  way  we  do  this  is  by  having  sex  before  we  are  truly   ready.    And,  yes,  I  realize  that  we’re  all  adults,  so  biologically   speaking,  we  don’t  need  permission  from  anybody  to  do  “the   do.”    I’m  talking  about  the  check  in  the  gut  that  lets  us  know   that  we  may  not  be  adequately  prepared  emotionally,   mentally  and  spiritually  to  let  someone  physically  enter  our   bodies.

Some  of  us  will  say  we  do  it  because  it’s  fun,  we’re   stressed,  and/or  sex  is  a  great  release.    And,  it’s  true.    Sex  can   be  all  of  these  things.    There  are  also  others  of  us,  however,   who’ll  be  the  first  to  admit  that  we  often  do  “the  do”  because   we  are  keenly  aware  of  the  adage  that  if  he’s  not  getting  it   from  us,  he’s  going  to  get  it  from  somewhere  else.

Truthfully,  he  may.  But,  he  also  may  be  getting  it  from   somewhere  else  and  you,  simultaneously.    So,  your  giving  it   up  before  you  are  really  ready  to  isn’t  helping  your  intent  of   stopping  him.    However,  it  might  prevent  him  from  getting  to   know  the  real  you,  and  not  the  one  so  obsessed  by  fear  and   lack,  that  you  become  “crazy  chick”  and  go  off  on  him  when   the  relationship  is  not  progressing  in  the  way  or  as  rapidly  as   you’d  like.

Granted,  there  are  a  few  of  us  who  only  want  a  good   time.    But,  most  of  us  want  more.
If  you  are  one  of  the  ones  who  want  more,  beware  of   sacrificing  your  self-­‐‑respect  to  get  a  piece  of  a  man,  because  if   you  do,  you  will  probably  get  just  that  –  a  piece  of  a  man.   Then,  you  will  have  to  be  weary  of  complaining  and  blame  the   male,  though,  truthfully,  he  never  even  claimed  to  be  a  man.     You  may  also  be  forced  to  admit,  after  much  pain  and   heartache,  that  you  didn’t  really  take  the  time  to  see  if  you   really  wanted  him;  you  merely  wanted  someone.

Case  in  point:  a  friend  of  mine  recently  had  dinner  with   a  single  doctor  who  relocated  to  Atlanta.    Noting  the   supposedly  high  proportion  of  single  women  to  men,   rumored  to  be  around  20:1,  but  statistically  reported  as  2:1,   she  asked  him  about  his  dating  life.  Surprisingly,  he  shared   that  he  wasn’t  dating  that  much.    He  was,  however,  having  a   great  deal  of  sex.  “I  don’t  even  have  to  ask  a  woman  out,”  he   said.    “Most  come  up  to  me.    If  we  do  go  out,  they  pay  for  it  or   go  Dutch  before  I  pull  out  my  wallet.”

Most  of  the  women  don’t  expect  a  second,  let  alone,  a   third  date.    They  offer  themselves  up  for  a  good  time  and  he   readily  accepts.    What  shocked  him  most,  however,  was  the   Atlanta  strip  clubs.    “There  are  a  lot  more  women  in  there   than  I  expected,”  he  said.    Instead  of  men  having  to  go  find   women,  the  women  go  where  the  guys  are.  Even  more   alarming,  for  him,  was  that  when  the  men  didn’t  pay  quick   enough  attention,  these  women  started  paying  to  receive  lap   dances  from  the  strippers  to  up  the  ante.  In  turn,  they  may   have  been  successful  with  him  and  other  men  for  that  night,   but  nothing  long-­‐‑term.  Interesting  enough,  this  confirmed   bachelor  also  shared  that  he  wasn’t  opposed  to  settling  down.     Unfortunately,  he  had  yet  to  encounter  a  woman  who  inspired   him  to  desire  a  more  substantial  connection.

Thankfully,  not  all  women  are  like  this.    Even  so,  we   cannot  let  the  inmates  run  the  asylum.    I  don’t  care  how  slim   the  pickings  may  look.    We  have  way  more  power  in  this   dating  game  than  we  are  giving  ourselves  credit  for.

Consider,  for  example,  how  much  men  have  done   historically  for  women  they  treasure.    Both  Caesar  and  Mark   Antony,  for  instance,  sacrificed  their  power  as  heads  of  the   Roman  state  (the  reigning  world  power  at  that  time)  for   Cleopatra’s  attention  and  favor.    In  addition,  there’s  hardly  a   movie,  myth  or  fable  that  does  not  contain  some  element  of  a   man  sacrificing  his  all  to  win  the  heart  of  a  woman.    Heck,  are   you  aware  that  even  the  Bible  records  (in  Genesis  6:  1  –  2)  that   we  as  women  are  so  desirable  that  angels  sacrificed  their   immortality  to  marry  and  have  children  with  us?!

We  are  powerful,  Ladies.    Let’s  own  it.    Stop  letting  the   terms  of  dating  in  the  21st  Century  be  driven  by  our  fears  of   scarcity  and  lack.    Take  the  time  to  really  see  yourself  through   the  total  lens  and  not  the  current  state  of  dating.    If  you’re   willing  to  slow  down,  and  draw  further  into  yourself,  you   may  really  understand  all  you  have  to  offer  to  the  world.     Taking  a  sex-­‐‑free  sabbatical,  for  whatever  duration  you   decide,  may  allow  you  to  upgrade  to  a  renewed,  recharged,   more  loving,  beautiful,  and  alluring  you.    In  case  you’re   circling  the  field,  but  still  find  yourself  on  the  fence,  consider   the  following  for  being  sex  free:

Reason  #1:  Invest  In  You

When  we  have  sex,  we  are  physically  allowing  another   being  to  penetrate  our  core.    Unlike  our  heterosexual   counterparts,  whose  sexual  organ  is  external,  ours  is  located   inside  of  us.    Hence,  when  we  let  someone  within,  we  let  that   person  enter  the  center  of  our  being.  We  take  in  his  physical,   as  well  as  spiritual,  emotional  and  mental  energy.    If  he’s  not   right  in  any  way,  it  can  affects  us  for  hours,  days,  months,  or   even  longer.    We  may  feel  slightly  off  –  sad,  agitated,  and/or   even  angry  and  not  know  why.    This  is  because  we’ve  let   another  human  being  deposit  his  energy  and  any  other   person’s  energy  he’s  slept  (or  may  simultaneously  be   sleeping)  with  inside  of  us.    If  we  are  not  aware  of  this,  we   may  blame  ourselves  for  feeling  crappy  without  an  idea  of   how  to  fix  it.

If  you  take  the  time  to  invest  in  yourself,  you’ll  be  in  a   much  better  position  to  know  what’s  your  “stuff”  versus   someone  else’s.  You’ll  also  have  a  better  idea  of  consciously   understanding  what  types  of  deposits  a  potential  paramour  is   bringing  to  you  and  decide  whether  or  not  you  want  to   receive  them.

And,  as  you  become  more  conscious  of  what  energy   may  belong  to  you  and  what  may  belong  to  someone  else,   you’ll  be  able  to  focus  in  ways  you  choose,  and  not  potentially   have  it  dissipated  by  trying  to  sort  through  energy  that   doesn’t  belong  to  you.    This  will  enable  you  to  have  laser   beam  focus.    Whereas  a  light  bulb  emanates  light  in  a  general   way,  a  laser  beam  emits  rays  that  are  focused,  direct  and   incredibly  powerful.    Imagine  what  you  can  accomplish  with   that  type  of  dynamism!

Reason  #2:  Become  a  Better  You

If  you  had  any  extra-­‐‑time,  what  would  you  like  to   accomplish?  I  mean  an  achievement  that  almost  makes  you   giddy  with  excitement  by  simply  thinking  about  it.  Is  it  career   related?    Educationally-­‐‑inspired?    Or,  does  it  bring  out  your   daredevil  qualities?    Like  skydiving,  perhaps?  Or  maybe  your   aspiration  is  a  personal  goal,  like  running  a  marathon,   finishing  a  triathlon  or  at  least  starting  with  a  5K  walk/race?

Do  you  even  know?    If  not,  no  worries.    This  is  what  a   sex-­‐‑free  hiatus  is  for.

As  women,  we  spend  an  enormous  amount  of  time   being  caregivers  for  everyone  else.    And,  while  it’s  certainly   great  to  be  there  for  others,  it’s  hard  to  consistently  show  up   and  meet  someone  else’s  needs  when  we  don’t  even  attend  to   our  own.  It’s  very  similar  to  the  instructions  flight  attendants   give  before  we  take  off  on  airplane  flights.    In  the  event  of  an   emergency,  the  first  thing  we  are  encouraged  to  do  is  put  on   our  own  oxygen  masks  before  we  try  and  assist  anyone  else.     This  is  because  we  can’t  aid  another  before  we  help  ourselves.

When  I  was  a  child,  my  dad  bought  me  a  book  entitled   How  to  Be  Your  Own  Best  Friend  during  one  of  our  weekly   father-­‐‑daughter  dates.    I  was  around  eleven  at  the  time,  so  I   had  no  idea  what  the  concept,  perfectly  summed  up  in  the   title,  meant.  Admittedly,  I  also  thought  the  title,  and  hence   concept,  sounded  stupid  as  most  adolescent  girls,  including   myself,  relish  fitting  in.    Yet,  each  year  I  am  reminded  how   invaluable  it  is  to  treat,  encourage,  and  love  myself  as  deeply   and  kindly  as  I  would  my  own  best  friend.

Becoming  your  own  best  friend  is  perhaps  one  of  the   best  ways  to  become  a  better  you  because  it  can  allow  you  to   put  yourself  and  your  needs  first  without  feeling  as  if  you  are   being  selfish.  You  are  also  training  others  how  to  treat  you.    If   you  don’t  take  time  to  complete  a  goal  and/or  honor  a   personal  desire  or  wish,  others  will  feel  that  it’s  okay  for  them   to  ignore  things  that  are  important  to  you  as  well.    They  won’t   pay  extra  special  attention  to  the  things  that  matter  to  you,  nor   will  they  feel  obliged  to  do  so.

But,  if  you  honor  yourself  by  protecting,  pursuing,  and   ultimately  fulfilling  those  things  that  are  special  to  you,  then   everyone  else  who  enters  your  life  already  has  a  working   blueprint  for  interacting  with  you.

Taking  the  concept  one  step  further,  without  becoming   a  better  you,  it  may  become  impossible  to  get  the  best  life  has   to  offer.    You  may  amass  many  things  and  become  materially   very  successful,  but  you  may  also  be  plagued  with  a  deep   emotional  void  and  emptiness  you’re  not  able  to  understand.     This  may  result  because  you’ve  done  everything  that  “should”   make  you  happy,  but  you  haven’t  done  the  work  to  really   locate  what  brings  you  pure,  unadulterated  joy.

For  example,  there  are  several  popular  relationship-­‐‑ improvement  books,  written  by  men,  which  tell  women  how   men  think.    And,  while  it’s  great  to  have  as  many  weapons  in   your  armor  to  succeed  in  matters  of  the  heart,  it’s  at  least   equally  important  to  know  what  it  is  that  you  want  before  you   figure  out  how  to  think  like  a  man  or  realize  that  he’s  just  not   that  into  you.    Because,  guess  what?    After  a  little  soul   searching  during  this  “hiatus  for  self”  time,  you  may  realize   that  you  were  never  into  him  either.

Reason  #3:  Enhanced  Health

Since  adolescence,  most,  if  not  all  of  us,  have  been   warned  of  the  life  altering  risks  of  an  unplanned  pregnancy   and  harmful,  sometimes  fatal,  results  of  contracting  a  sexually   transmitted  infection.

Hence,  it’s  a  no-­‐‑brainer  that  the  only way  to  prevent  herpes,  gonorrhea,  HIV,  and  the  like  is  to   abstain.    Most  of  us  are  also  very  well  educated  that  a  second   option  is  safer  sex  where  we  use  condoms.    Less  known,   however,  are  the  rising  reports  over  the  last  decade  about  the   growing  risk  of  cancer,  especially  cervical  and  oral,  associated   with  sex,  that  even  condoms  cannot  prevent.

The  human  papillomavirus  or  HPV  is  a  sexually   transmitted  infection  that  both  men  and  women  can  get.  It  is   spread  via  skin-­‐‑to-­‐‑skin  contact  and  not  by  bodily  fluids.     Hence,  condom  use  cannot  stop  the  spread  of  this  disease.

According  to  a  2011  Centers  for  Disease  Control  (CDC)   report,  approximately  20  million  Americans  currently  have   HPV,  with  six  million  new  infections  being  discovered  each   year.5    Additionally,  nearly  80%  of  all  sexually  active  women   will  contract  HPV  at  some  point  in  their  lives.  HPV  can  also  lie   dormant  for  many  years,  making  it  incredibly  difficult,  for   some,  to  know  who  gave  it  to  them.  And,  very  often,  men  and   women,  alike,  are  unaware  that  they  have  it  because  not   everyone  who’s  infected  has  symptoms.    Routine  pap  smears,   which  check  for  changes  in  cells  on  the  cervix,  are  used  to   detect  the  disease  in  women.    Unfortunately,  there  are  no   current  detection  methods  for  men.    In  addition,  an  increasing   amount  of  dentists  are  beginning  to  routinely  screen  patients   from  oral  sexual  encounters  during  dental  checkups.

5  Centers  for  Disease  Control  (CDC).  “Genital  HPV  Infection  –  Fact  Sheet.”   2011.
When  symptoms  do  exist,  they  can  take  the  form  of   warts  on  the  genital  area  or  lesions,  bumps  and  skin   discoloration  in  the  throat,  tongue  or  other  areas  within  the   mouth.

Most  of  the  time,  thankfully,  the  disease  disappears  by   itself  (i.e.:  without  any  medical  treatment)  within  two  years.     But,  in  those  instances  when  it  doesn’t,  HPV  is  the  primary   cause  in  all  cases  of  cervical  cancer  for  woman  and  now   accounts  for  nearly  25%  of  all  oral  cancers.

Who  would’ve  thought  that  cancer  would  be  the  latest   in  a  long  string  of  health  risks  associated  with  sex?    It’s   absolutely  incredible.  So,  as  you  weigh  your  options  for  each   possible  sexual  liaison,  ask  yourself,  “Are  the  risks  worth  it  to   have  sex  with  this  person  right  now?”    “Is  he/she  worth  my   life  and/or  quality  of  living?”

Your  answers  to  these  questions  may  provide  much   needed  insight  into  your  feelings  for  your  prospective  partner   and  the  long-­‐‑term  possibilities  for  the  relationship.  They  may   also  shed  light  on  where  you  are  mentally  and  emotionally,   which  can  be  another  reason  to  embark  on  a  sex-­‐‑free  hiatus.

In  addition  to  increased  physical  health,  becoming  sex   free  can  significantly  contribute  to  increased  mental  and   emotional  health.    Mental  health  can  be  defined  as  one’s  level   of  thinking,  feeling  and  relating  to  others.    A  person  suffering   attacks  to  his/her  mental  health  may  experience  depression,   anxiety,  and  substance-­‐‑abuse  addiction,  which  may  naturally affect  her  level  of  interaction  with  others.    The  quality  of  one’s   emotional  health,  which  includes  moods  and  the  way  an   individual  reactions  to  situations,  also  has  a  significant  impact   on  how  one  deals  with  others.    For  example,  if  a  person  has   unresolved  anger  issues  towards  someone  in  her  past,  these   issues  may  manifest  unexpectedly,  at  the  most  inappropriate   time,  threatening  a  current  or  future  relationship.

In  truth,  all  of  us  have  experienced  hurt  and   disappointment.    So,  it’s  not  a  question  of  whether  or  not  we   ever  have  a  mental  or  emotional  attack,  it’s  a  question  about   what  we  do  when  it  happens.
Much  like  rest  allows  the  physical  body  to  recover   when  it’s  attacked  by  an  ailment,  a  relationship  respite,  every   now  and  again,  can  help  us  recover  from  wounding   experiences.    To  illustrate,  think  about  what  happens  when  we   experience  symptoms  signaling  the  beginning  of  a  cold.    If  we   immediately  up  our  intake  of  vitamin  C  and  zinc  tabs,  drink   more  liquids  and  rest,  we  diminish  the  length  and  severity  of   the  cold.  We  also  reduce  the  opportunity  for  us  to  infect   others.  But,  if  we  don’t  take  heed,  or,  even  worse,  do  the   opposite  by  continuing  to  eat  poorly  and  not  getting  enough   sleep,  we  are  not  only  heading  for  a  temporary  shut  down,   where  we  can’t  get  out  of  bed  and/or  move  because  our   system  is  wore  down,  we  can  also  make  others  sick  in  the   process.

The  same  is  true  for  our  emotional  health.    When  you   are  hurting,  it’s  best  to  stop,  rest  and  reflect,  so  that  you  can become  renewed,  refreshed  and  ready  for  whatever  comes   next.

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About the Author:

Monique Matthews, who has a background in entertainment journalism, once served as a managing editor for a national hip-hop publication and currently earns her stripes as a screenwriter and director, does not have the typical background of one holding discussions about abstinence. She is not unattractive, an ultra conservative, nor does she live a low-key lifestyle. Quite the contrary, as a screenwriter who has written for several movie studios, been selected by Daily Variety as one of their “10 Writers to Watch,” and directed a national awareness commercial that Viacom networks recently donated over a million dollars in advertising time to air, Monique spends her fair share of time enjoying the perks of her high profile career. She’s also guided by a very strong internal compass, which led to her decision of choosing a sex-free lifestyle.


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