Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Respectability and the Woman II: Sex

  1. 1.
    a woman who has many casual sexual partners.
    synonyms:promiscuous woman; More

Ever wondered why no pejorative for men who have 'many sexual partners' exists? 

Patriarchy is why. 

Feminine agency of any kind is a threat to The Man, but feminine sexual agency is (almost?) the worst kind there is. In a patriarchal culture, the female body exists solely to please men (and procreate) and this is why female objectification, hyper-sexualisation of children, reproductive rights abuse and rape culture, among other things, proliferate.

When people say feminism is about women wanting to 'become like men', they are very wrong, but also right in a roundabout way. They fumble into being right in the sense that feminism is about agency - the right of the female, as a human being, to choose and define the parameters of her life, and to be able to function within those parameters without fear of reprisal and worse. In the patriarchal system of oppression, no one is allowed to be fully human (not even men), but as far as hierarchy goes, men have a much better go of it than women.

For example, sex.

Consider the moral concepts of chastity and virtue. The white wedding dress, if you please. Virginity as a worthwhile pursuit is marketed solely to women; no one ever tells boys that their virginity is their pride, or that their worthiness as a spouse (as a person, in fact) is directly correlated to their sexual status prior to marriage.

I remember being berated by an aunt once for sleeping with a boyfriend because, according to her:
1) I had cheapened myself and was now worthless
2) he could not possibly have an interest in me beyond sex
3) the only way to make a man stay in a relationship is to make him wait for sex till after the wedding.


She asked me why I slept with him. I replied, "Because I wanted to." I earned a slap for my honesty, and this is why: purity culture (which is actually rape culture), does not allow a woman to enjoy or control her sex life. It simultaneously reduces a woman to her reproductive organs while dissociating her from said organs so that every woman is literally nothing more than a walking vagina, and her value as a person is entirely dependent on whether or not a penis has 'conquered' this vagina. Ergo she has no real value as a person. Ergo she is not a person.

Why is it impossible to consider that, apart from my sexual prowess, a man can be interested in my mind, my ability to hold a conversation, my amateur comedienne skills, my ambition? Why is it impossible to consider that I might choose to have sex because I am a sexual human being, and I therefore like sex? I've heard women say things like, "I have to make him work for it." Again, #pause. This kind of thinking reduces women to inert creatures, prizes waiting to be won, rewards at the end of the qualifying process, as opposed to people with sexual agency.

Women (and our bodies) are not vehicles for men's sexual expression. We are human beings. Complex, nuanced, sometimes sexual, sometimes not, but human. Not vaginae. Not uteri. Human beings. And human beings all have the right to choose what to do with our bodies, including having sex, because that's what makes us human; our ability to choose. 

Disclaimer: this is not an anti-abstinence campaign. I believe that abstinence/celibacy is important, even crucial to spiritual growth. But it should be approached with the right mindset, because when women are made responsible for being the gatekeepers of sexual purity while simultaneously being marketed as meat to men by mass media and cultural norms (polygamy, permissive infidelity, statutory rape in the name of 'child marriage'), the result is what we have in Nigeria and other patriarchies: a rape culture that completely dehumanises women, glorifies the male gaze, reduces women's bodies to sexual disposables, and propagates all forms of violence against women. 


  1. In as much as I disagree with many facets of modern day feminism, I must confess that this is a masterpiece!!! No one could have poured out my mind on male chauvinist-sexism better than Timi just did. I stumbled upon this piece and could not stop till the very end. Great work from a great mind! I hope to read more from you!