If you’re a stud, you’re not supposed to fall in love with another stud – right?
Who says? This is the premise of Sharon D. Smith’s STRAPPED, a fast-paced novel following the attraction between masculine-appearing women, Silk and Taz. The pair have well-worn identities as dominant females, and typically date feminine women accordingly. This stud-femme dynamic is turned on its head when Silk – rocking baggy jeans and a Black and Mild between her lips – moves into Taz’s neighborhood.
Taz notices her next-door neighbor’s swagger, and they quickly become hanging buddies. While they watch sports and hit the clubs, their friendship grows despite not knowing that much about each other’s pasts. It all comes out in a game of basketball when Silk reveals her true feelings. Taz is taken aback by this admission of affection. She can’t believe her homeboy is attracted to her. Silk knows she has a girlfriend — a curvaceous beauty at that — and that their friendship is simply platonic.
Silk feels differently, though. She has always had a thing for butch women. And while Taz tries to understand her friend’s seemingly-odd attraction, she eventually succumbs to it when the pair is thrown into a crisis situation.
Taz and Silk find themselves in love and in trouble. Taz believes she’s losing her edge and doesn’t know if she can handle the type of love that dare not speak its name in the lesbian community, while Silk’s past comes back to haunt her new relationship with Taz.
Smith’s Strapped shows the conflict some black lesbians experience with labels. Femme, stud, stem, bisexual – it all means nothing when it comes to how one feels inside. Taz and Silk had to leave the pressures of sexual roles behind to discover a comfortable home in each other. Their affair is unpeeled layer by layer, realistically so. With that being said, while Strapped does a good job getting in Taz’s head, but doesn’t delve enough into why Silk loves studs. I guess that will be explained further in Smith’s next novel.
So get ready because Strapped will challenge all your perceptions of what love and labels really mean.
Reviewed August 2010