Sexuality in Africa: A new era of African women embracing sexuality
Sexuality is a concept that varies across different cultures and/or religions in the world. Female sexuality covers not only the female sexual identity but also female sexual behavior. Perception of female sexual experiences has evolved over the years, from a cultural phenomenon that is almost like a taboo to talk about, to something that is more frequently discussed today. The topic of sexuality has been silenced in Africa for centuries. Because of the difficulty of embracing intimate and individual emotions and preferences, most women in Africa lose their voice when it comes to discussing sexual preferences and emotions with their partners.
The issue is that sexuality is a gender-specific social construct in Africa. Parents discourage children growing up in Africa from any sign of sexual stimulation by sharing the idea that masturbation is sinful and morally wrong. Critiques about these ideas are normally non-existent, because when the question of morality comes into play with an African person, they often shy away from the conversations. Most African men do not expect women to experience sexual satisfaction, thus making most women in Africa ignorant to sexual pleasures and orgasms. These men only expect African women to have sex because of childbearing. This patriarchal construct has succeeded in making its way to the tradition of female genital mutilation. Of course, with this practice, the cutting off of the woman’s clitoris will ensure a woman will never experience sexual pleasure in her lifetime. These practices represent a misogynistic view of what the female body is supposed to feel or provide, for it deprives a woman of the opportunity to control her sexuality and personal preferences.
With this, we will answer four tangible questions asked surrounding this subject, about the sexuality and sexual experiences of African women.
How does an African woman view her sexual experience and sexuality?
Because of concurrent stereotypes, it is easy to be labeled as oversexualized when you are an African woman. While this is often not the case, the African woman must still struggle to correct the different narratives about her sexuality. To her, sexuality encompasses everything that the wider public believes it’s not. Like any other woman from any other race that doesn’t go through the same levels of disbelief constantly thrown towards African women like a bone to a dog, sexual experiences are just that – something you experience and enjoy as a woman. Most African women struggle with desires that should be natural to them because of these beliefs that hide their sexuality. With the mindset of the female body being made for sex and procreation only, pleasure for many African women is stifled, if not non-existent, as it is seen as something to endure rather than explore or enjoy, as past occurrences and precedents have established the need to treat their sexuality that way.
Because of the moral construct of women and sex, the experiences of sex are often left out of sex education. Even when professionals try to educate young people about sex and sexually transmitted diseases, their main focus is usually on family planning. The conversation of individual experiences of sex are usually ignored or forgotten altogether. Women in Africa are shy or careful to talk about their sexual experiences with their partners due to the fear of judgment of their morality. African men in certain parts of Africa often label women with contemporary sexual flavors and needs such as wild, immoral and women unworthy of marriages, therefore, leading women neglecting to ask for, or initiate potential triggers of pleasure in the bedroom.
How to approach the experiences of sex and other sexual activities to women in Africa?
There has always been a huge difference between the messages given to African men and women about sex and sexual experiences. Even during sex, the society cautions women to allow the man to take the lead and is made to believe there are limits to what a woman can get from it. Pleasure is only meant for the man in these cases, so much so that a huge percentage of African women don’t realize they are just as entitled to the pleasures men have had for a long time.
We can approach these experiences by providing an educational platform that talks openly about sexual experiences and activities without cultural criticisms. Teaching both young men and women to relearn the functions of the female body can help in changing societal expectations about sex. If the African society can take out the guilt of morality from a woman’s sexual conquest, more women will freely talk about their wants and needs with their partners.
This could also start from the root of the cause and work its way up. Although this tactic might seem ineffective for most considering older African women already have strong beliefs about labeling the contemporary sexual experiences of women as bad, they need to have eye-opening scenarios played out for them. This will encourage them to look past their baseless ideologies and stubbornness to consider speaking more about sex to their daughters and other young women.
How do you think, approach, and own your own orgasm?
There is a stiffness that comes with believing men should be the sole beneficiaries of pleasure that has to go. As an African woman, you are allowed to explore your body and mind for sexual triggers to reach your climax without the fear of being judged by someone. Be it your mother’s tiny voice in your head telling you God is mad at you for masturbating, or that person in your family who makes you feel dirty every time you feel the need to experience sexual pleasure. You can never fully experience sexual pleasure at its greatest peak if you don’t figure out how to turn yourself on. No one can give you what you can’t give yourself. Learning about your body helps you to help your partner to take you to those places you want to go or even higher. Your sexual experiences are most definitely natural and you should always answer Mother Nature when she calls! When you do reach that peak, enjoy it without caring about anything or anyone else. Your sexual health should be as equally as important as everything else you care about.
How does the younger generation view polygamy versus how our predecessors viewed them?
For the younger generation, it boils down to religious concepts that present polygamy (with conditions) as an option. Our predecessors stayed in marriages long enough to accept polygamy. Because of societal expectations on women, wives in the past had no problem staying in abusive marriages, struggling and taking in everything – however bad they might be. The younger generations have begun to question certain standards and are taking their time with marriages. Women of today are less likely to accept polygamy and abuse than women in the past. Any sign of these things would leave a wife packing out of her home for a single life where she doesn’t have to deal with a cheating or abusive husband.
In conclusion, there’s still a lot more to uncover about the African woman’s sexuality. There are more things to learn and unlearn and more conversations to engage in. One thing is for sure, though: this is the era of African women embracing their sexuality.