By Fayth/ @faythnw
“Women in this culture live with sexual fear like an extra skin. Each of us wears it differently depending on our race, class, sexual preference and community, but from birth we have all been taught our lessons well. Sexuality is dangerous. It is frightening, unexplored, and threatening… Many of us become feminists because of our feelings about sex… (Hollibaugh,1996: 64).”
Having a conversation with my best friend once, I was crestfallen when she asked me where the vagina is. She thought it was onlu where pee comes from. I felt like crying.
When is the right time to talk about sex? It seems never as issues of sexual abuse, sex education , bodily changes, domestic violence, marital rape, contraception and other issues directly affecting the lives of women are shrouded in an ominous silence.
This needs to change. Notions of pleasure and all things pertaining to sex need to become a conversation had between women of different generations from early on. Sex and sexual pleasure are an important part of sexual education and personal growth.
‘This fear of sexual pleasure, and of considering the possibilities such pleasure suggests for imagining oneself differently, is directly linked to the construction of women’s sexuality as “bad”, “filthy” and “morally corrupting” (see Oakley, 1996; Hollibaugh, 1996). These constructions are aggressively invoked whenever women seek to make independent choices, when they become public and visible as aspiring citizens, when they seek social mobility through their educational skills and material resources, and when they transgress cultural and social boundaries defended in the name of “tradition”.’
“Constraints on cultural and discursive spaces are glaringly manifested in the delimiting of discourses about women’s sexuality. Considering the life threats that many women face in dominant hetero-normative sexual relationships, discourses on sexuality in most activist arenas remain largely tied to reproduction and barely interrogated or deconstructed notions of rights. Emphasis has been placed on women’s prescribed roles as wives and mothers, with their rights to choices and sexual freedoms all too often ignored or swept aside. In the past, we had to disentangle health from its confounding coupling with reproduction in order to make the argument that women’s health involved much more than their surviving the breeding process. Now we face the challenge of disentangling sexuality from its automatic conflation with reproduction, and insisting that it involves far more than the provision of sexual services within conjugal relationships.”
My friend told me she had imagined me having a radio sex talk show called ‘Fay after Dark’. At first I thought it was funny and then thought about it. It would not be so bad. I love sex and I am quite open when it comes to talking about sex with anyone who is comfortable in doing so.
For me it is the only time you get to be with someone, groping each other whilst running through the most ridiculous monologue in your head, one punctuated with ‘Ohs and Ahs’ and certain curse words. You get to feel another’s skin on yours, exploring those spots and hopefully having an orgasm in the end.
I started getting to know my genitals (and those of others) around the age of eight, behind the bushes and in the car garage behind the house. There was this way we kissing we used to do where you put our lips together and shook our heads from side to side. Then one day I had pain near my vagina at that point I did not know it was a vagina but I still remember where the pain was. It was a slight pain, nothing much, but it made me feel the need to confide in my aunt which was not the right thing to do in hindsight.
She immediately called in my mum and she told me to strip down and lie on the bed.
They were speaking in Kikuyu and I could not understand a single word but the urgency in their voices scared me. My mother, who is a nurse, proceeded to examine me later saying I was fine. She looked relieved and I felt good, until two minutes later when she came back with a stick and beat the crap out of me.
In my experience ideas of sexual activities had not been completely hidden from me per se, because Ma used to say, ‘When you get to be with a boy, it will only last two minutes and you will end up pregnant, ruining your whole life.’ That then graduated to, ‘You do not need sex and boys to make you feel complete. You are a beautiful girl and that is enough. Sex will only make you pregnant.’
I got bored of the hetero-sex talk and decided to just tell her I was sleeping with girls. I thought ‘talks’ would end but they did not. I fell sick with gastro-intestinal bleeding and I had to do a million tests including the DTC test for HIV. When the test came out negative she began, ‘Now your duty is to maintain the negative status. Even though you find a pretty girl and you just want to jump in bed with her, think first. If you love her go get tested the both of you before you start engaging in those things lesbians do.’
She continued, ‘When you use vibrators, make sure you wash or disinfect them.’
Despite all this helpful advice it made me realize something: sexual pleasure is fundamental to our right to a safe and wholesome lifestyle.
“The systematic suppression of women’s sexual and erotic inclinations has led to the conflation of sexuality and reproduction within a hetero-normative cultural and social matrix. This suppression is maintained through vigilant cultural surveillance, and has led to the muting of what I define as our feminist sexual memory and instinct. The result is a sexual and political cul-de-sac of violation and repression: all too often, women find themselves in a dark, dreadful place, windowless and airless, with seemingly no way out.”
I am sure I am not the only one who reads erotic stories and wonder what sexual styles the women are actually engaging in. There are some I really cannot wrap my head around. Sometimes I can be in the middle of watching a clip and find myself wondering exactly what is happening. This turns what I am watching into an educational clip or a mystery movie.
It is important for women to talk about what they are going through with their vaginas. I want people to be comfortable and own their sexual adventures. You love sex toys? Well and good. Maybe you have a purple strap on and your favorite pink one that is that one that you can feel in your throat when your partner uses it on you.
You want to buy a sex swing, just make sure you install it well. Just make sure that pleasure is central to your sexual experience and sexual knowledge.
“Another important way in which the erotic connection functions are the open and fearless underlining of my capacity for joy ….That self-connection shared is a measure of joy which I know myself to be capable of feeling, a reminder of my capacity for feeling. And that deep and irreplaceable knowledge of my capacity for joy comes to demand from all of my life that it be lived within the knowledge that such satisfaction is possible and does not have to be called marriage, or god, nor an afterlife. That is one reason why the erotic is so feared, and so often relegated to the bedroom alone, when it is recognized at all (1982: 87).”
Check out her blog With All My Art.
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