Erotic Testimonies

Black Women Daring to Be Wild and Free

By Julia S. Jordan-Zachery

Subjects: Women's Studies, African American Studies, Psychology, Gender Studies
Series: SUNY series in Black Women's Wellness
Hardcover : 9781438491172, 192 pages, December 2022
Paperback : 9781438491165, 192 pages, June 2023

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Feeling, and Deeply: A Source of Knowledge

1. Testifying: An Introduction

2. Oh! Isn’t It Wild?

3. I Want to Be Totally Free: Maya’s Testimony

4. It’s Just Easier to Fuck: Sekile’s Testimony

5. A Barefoot Girl Howling at the Moon: Val’s Testimony

6. Since I Am Divine and I Am Feminine, It Is All Me: Lakeesha’s Testimony

7. Talking to the Sugar Canes: What My Gran Taught Me about Seeing Myself


Asks how Black women tap into their feelings to develop ways to live freely.


Erotic Testimonies draws inspiration from Audre Lorde's "Uses of the Erotic" to explore how Black women access their interiority and use their feelings to engage in processes of self-actualization and make themselves free. Blending genres and resisting the confines of conventional scholarly analysis, Julia S. Jordan-Zachery undertakes what she characterizes as a performative embodied reading of testimonies by four "wild" women from her own life. Jordan-Zachery takes care not to define what constitutes a wild woman—that's been done enough to oppressive ends—but rather tends to these women's forms and means of self-articulation. Complex accounts of wildness, freedom, femininity, the erotic, and the divine emerge from her field notes. Erotic Testimonies attests to the experience of the individual as well as, and even more importantly, how the individual speaks to a broader collective that here includes Lorde, bell hooks, Toni Morrison, Janet Jackson, the author, her grandmother, and many more.

Julia S. Jordan-Zachery is Chair and Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wake Forest University. She is the editor (coedited with Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd) of Black Women in Politics: Demanding Citizenship, Challenging Power, and Seeking Justice, also published by SUNY Press.


"Erotic Testimonies engages the reader in deeply understanding the ways Black women envision and re-envision themselves holistically. Jordan-Zachery's style, use of poetry, and taboo focus on 'the erotic' offers space not only for the pain Black women hold in their stories but also for their freedom and liberation. In other words, this book goes beyond the problem to a space of problem solving." — Lani V. Jones, author of Reenvisioning Therapy with Women of Color: A Black Feminist Healing Perspective