Sex And Reciprocity

Men are taught to prioritize themselves. Women are taught to prioritize men. As I was scrolling through Twitter the other day, I saw the quote above. I suddenly became still for a moment, pondering the complexities and truthfulness of the quote. In just a few words/sentences, someone managed to capture the essence of how boys…

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Men are taught to prioritize themselves. Women are taught to prioritize men.

As I was scrolling through Twitter the other day, I saw the quote above. I suddenly became still for a moment, pondering the complexities and truthfulness of the quote. In just a few words/sentences, someone managed to capture the essence of how boys and girls are raised differently in Nigeria. It is interesting the things I choose to commit to memory, so the quote has stuck with me because it encompasses everything we are taught as we are raised and socialized in Nigeria. Therefore, it is not surprising that this quote was at the back of my mind when I read the article “Bedroom Etiquette for Young, but Sexually Experienced African Women” by Loelah. Loelah masterfully captures the plight of many sexually active Nigerian women:

I would like to know what is considered sexually appropriate. Is it alright for me to show him what I like, maybe not verbally but with the movements of my body? … Is it ok for me give him head like I enjoy it or do I have to pretend to have never handled a penis before? … Basically, all I am asking is : Should I honour who I have come to know and love as myself or should I honour what I have been taught that I have to be?

These questions are neither new nor out of the ordinary. They are simple, but penitent questions that every young woman must ask, if not necessarily answer, as she comes into sexual awareness: “How do I maintain the allure of innocence and chastity while still expressing myself as a sexual being?” These are two opposing dichotomies that are nearly impossible to reconcile. It harkens back to the Madonna/Whore complex and all the children it has spawned: Virgin vs. Slut; Home-Trained vs. Wayward; New vs. Used; Wife material vs. Non-wife material; etc. A lot of people have discussed the hypocrisy in the stifling of female sexual agency while male “promiscuity” is, if not explicitly encouraged, certainly condoned. Chimamanda Adichie touches on this in her TED Talk “We Should All be Feminists.”  It is in this suppressive Nigerian environment that Loelah’s questions expose the inhumanity of Nigerian patriarchy. I am not going to spend much time discussing the Madonna/Whore complex [that is a topic for another day, which incidentally has been discussed multiple times before], so I am going to focus on the non-reciprocal nature of male and female sexual interactions in Nigeria.

I have talked about sex with quite a few people, men and women. While I cannot claim supreme knowledge of the inner workings of EVERY sexual interaction in Nigeria, I can share the patterns I have realized in the few conversations I have had. In one of these conversations, I was talking to Ken.* Ken was explaining how he likes to receive blow jobs: “My ex-girlfriend used to give me blowjobs all the time, but whenever she asked me to do likewise for her, I said no.” Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Ken liking blowjobs or the fact that he found someone willing to perform the act on him. The problem is his unwillingness/adamant refusal to pleasure his partner in the way she wants or has asked to be pleasured. 

In another conversation with a different friend, Mike,* he talked about how one lady he was having sex with was too “aggressive.” Being the curious person I am, I asked him to explain what he meant. “She asked for what she wanted,” he exclaimed. My mouth dropped open in shock. Eh … wait … what … “I am not understanding” (Insert Abraham Attah’s “Beasts of No Nation” meme here). To make everything clearer for myself, I asked whether HE asked for what he wanted and he said yes. I then asked if he was aggressive for telling his partner how to please him. I went further to ask him to explain exactly what is aggressive about asking for what one wants. He had no logical explanation when confronted with his hypocrisy.

Finally he muttered, “but, she is a woman.”

That my friends is the crux of the matter in the non-reciprocal nature of male-female sexual relationships in Nigeria. Women are not supposed to be sexual beings. They are not expected to have sexual desires that they want fulfilled. They are to maintain subservience and remain demure during sex, while the man takes the lead. They are not to remotely hint at knowing certain styles or exhibit a wish to explore/push the boundaries of sex or the man will look at them as “wild.” Even with the penis in their vagina, they are still to exhibit a certain level of virginal purity in order to enhance the man’s enjoyment of the act. In other words, women are taught to prioritize men’s sexual needs while men are taught to prioritize their sexual needs.

I doubt that the average Nigerian man battles with all the questions Loelah asks herself when it comes to how much of her sexual agency to own: “will she think I am wayward if I tell her I like getting my dick sucked? Will it be appropriate for me to tell her I know what a vagina is? Will presenting a condom make her believe I am a loose man?” I do not believe Nigerian men ask these questions of themselves because they have not been taught to suppress and/or be ashamed of their sexuality. Women, on the other hand, must navigate the minefield that is the patriarchal bullshit expectation of virginal purity.

Women are full autonomous sexual beings. They should not be afraid to assert their sexuality or to celebrate the fact that they love sex.

I say this to women: Your sexuality is not a crime and nobody should use it as a tool to shame/oppress you. When engaging in any sexual act, do it because YOU WANT to. You should know that giving a man a blowjob does not necessarily mean he is required to reciprocate the favor (he is responsible for what he wants to do and you cannot control that). However, you CAN control what you do. You should not be having sex with a selfish partner. Any man that outrightly refuses to attempt to pleasure you should not be within a hundred feet of your naked body. Any man that expects modesty from you while you are both having sex should be kicked out of bed ASAP. If anyone refuses to worship wholeheartedly at the temple that is your body and refuses to give as much as he is taking, my dear, it is time to go find new worshippers. Celebrate your body. Celebrate your sexuality/love of sex. Don’t let anyone shame you for it.

Responses

  1. Jerry Ayo
    I don’t think this article correctly presents the current state of affairs in the Nigerian society. These “hypocrisy” and societal restrictions /constrictions mentioned are fast fading away. What you have written may be completely true if you were referring to say people of my father’s generation. The modern Nigerian man is more open to sexual experiences previously thought absurd . Thanks to globalization as we continue to interact with the outside world, the more widespread this ‘shift’ becomes.
    Speaking for myself and my inner circle of 20-sth young men and women. The selfishness you speak of is non-existent. We get and we give back. What’s more, we find the so-called “modest girls” boring.
    Lovely article in all. #girlpower
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    1. Lipglossmaffia
      I actually thought the same until, an ardent reader of my erotica blog told me she hadn’t had an orgasm before, she didn’t even like sex. She just did it because it was what she was supposed to do as a wife. There are actually a lot of women who still have no idea what sex and sexuality is all about.
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      1. Kambili M.A. Chimalu Post author
        You have said it my dear. A lot of women do not OWN their sexuality and pleasure and these are women of our generation. Anyone saying the hypocrisy is not there is simply not looking hard enough.

        Women are still taught to hold virginity/chastity over everything else.

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    2. Kambili M.A. Chimalu Post author
      You know our “inner circle” experiences are not indications of the general reality in our society. Just the other day, elDee was shaming women, “hoes as he called them,” for daring to embrace their sexuality and LOTS of young (yes, our generation) Nigerians agreed with him and supported him.

      Of course there are young Nigerians who are becoming more accepting when it comes to women’s sexuality, but Nigeria is still a repressive society that polices women’s sexual expression.

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      1. Buchi
        Hey. I agree with a lot of things you say, but calling Eldee’s statement ‘Shaming women’ is way too simplistic and ignoring of the guy’s complaint. It had nothing to do with women shaming, and more of a father who was worried about the kind of world his daughter was growing into.
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        1. Kambili M.A. Chimalu Post author
          Puh-Leeeez! elDee’s statement has everything to do with shaming women. I could write a thesis on the patriarchal nuances and roots of his statements, but I will try to condense what I have to say.

          First, elDee should be the one raising his children, not “hoes.” If he feels his children are being influenced by negative forces, then he is NOT doing his job as a parent.

          Who exactly is a “hoe?” Someone that likes sex? Someone who isn’t afraid to like or talk about sex? The act of shaming women by commenting on what has been or not been in their vagina has been going on for a long time and elDee played that card. How dare women embrace their sexuality? How dare they try to make money off of that?

          Let’s take Amber Rose (a “hoe” in his opinion) for an example. What is the terrible thing that she has done to warrant being called a “hoe?” Have multiple sexual partners? Speak openly and candidly about sex?

          Nigerian society thrives on policing women and women’s sexuality. There is this warped morality code that women are expected to abide by. That’s what elDee was doing. There is nothing shameful about a woman embracing her sexuality proudly for all the world to see.

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          1. Buchi
            Its a mistake to focus on one aspect of his rant. His anger was not targeted at Amber, but at the media for prioritizing Sensational Drama over values. And he is not wrong.

            I have nothing against Amber Rose, but if i had a daughter, I would love her to have choices in the media of which kind of women to look up to, and not have a certain ‘values’ crammed down her throats.

            And it is funny that we all assume the media should play no part in Shaping the kids. We were not born in the digital age, and yet most of our lives revolve around the media. How about kids born today? Parent all you like, Media will still play a very significant part in raising our kids. Can we influence it? Yes, and that i think is probably why he was ranting.

            And no. Its not patriachal to want to hold women to standards. I dont and never will in a million years look up to the likes of Chris Brown, Magic Johnson, etc, because i don’t see them as ideal role models. Same holds for the Kims and the Ambers of the world. But unlike females, i can look at my TV and see programmes around relatable male role models. Is it same for women? Especially black women?Would you honestly want your daughter to become an Amber at any point in life?

            Oh also, on his use of the word ‘hoe’, wrong choice of words in my opinion, but the title of Amber’s show (that incidentally sparked his rant) is #AmberRoseSlutWalk. Yeah, i know its for a good cause, but like blacks and the word ‘Nigger’, if we want an offensive word expunged, we should not use it ourselves.

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          2. Kambili M.A. Chimalu Post author
            The point is what is considered “values.” The fact is that women are expected to exhibit a certain ridiculous amount of chastity/morality. The walk being called “SlutWalk” is a taking back of the name/term that people use to shame her for her candid and outspoken views on sex.

            Also, Amber is not the ONLY woman (black) in the media, so the argument that girls have nobody to look up to is disingenuous. There are people like Michelle Obama, Oprah, Serena Williams, Ava Duvernay, Loretta Lynch, etc. Anyone saying that black girls have no other role models to look up to apart from “hoes” is a damn liar.

            There will always be “negative” influences. However, it is the parent’s job to teach his/her children right from wrong. At the end of the day, a child is going to do what he/she wants. The parent should trust that he/she gave the child the necessary foundation to survive in the real world.

            IT IS patriarchal to want to hold women to unrealistic standards that were created by a repressive/suppressive society. Women are not here to make men feel better or to be put on a pedestal for that matter. It is a prison that refuses to allow women to be human.

            I want my daughter to be confident enough to own her sexuality. I do not want my daughter to ever cower in the face of societal criticism. I want my daughter to be confident enough to talk about sex candidly and positively.

            Therefore, eLDee used his view of morality to shame women. There are no two ways about it.

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    3. Loelah

      Dear Jerry Ayo,

      I would have to disagree with you. Truly, the average Nigerian youth is more sexually experienced and maybe a little more accepting than our parents generation, however, this does not remove the remove the sexual inequality that prevailed during their time, prevails now and most unfortunately, might still prevail in the next 10 years or more.

      Let me paint a very vivid picture for you…….
      Imagine there is this really modest looking girl [which you have unwittingly categorized as boring for reasons only you and the menfolk can understand] and despite your earlier reservations, you happen to like her.
      You guys go out on dates, have really beautiful conversations, you have kissed a few times and you really enjoyed yourself. On the first day you have sex with her, she is really accepting and not as reserved as you thought she was and you are really glad. You finally have a good girl to vibe with and who seems good in bed.
      Fast-forward 6 months down the line and Miss Modest is bored with you and she decides to step up the sex plate.
      so you get home from work and she is in your bed, naked and waiting. She undresses you, kisses, licks and sucks every part of your body but your mouth and the cap of your penis [she does not want you to cum so soon].
      she even reaches places you never categorized as erogenous and finally, she reaches up to you, stares in your dazed eyes and kisses you like you have never been kissed before.
      she proceeds to ride your penis….cowgirl style…to enable her play with your balls and she takes the pleasure she craves from you.
      She cums, you cum twice and you are soo tired you doze off immediately.

      Whether you admit to it or not, the average guy will have thoughts like “NAWA O, WHERE THIS ONE DON GO LEARN THIS ONE FROM?” “HMMMM, BLOOD OF GOD, IT IS WELL O, EVEN SOME ASAWO DEM SEF NO DEY GRIND LIKE THIS”
      “MEHN!!!!!! WHAT MANNER OF HEAD IS THIS?”

      This is what she means by the double standard. If a guy is marvelous in bed, we do not care who taught him we r just glad to have a man that we do not have to direct or worse, zone out on in bed.

      The problem is not your openness; of course you will be open to having your balls sucked and your perineum lapped on……. the problem is what you think of the person that can bring you that much pleasure….. especially, when she did not learn it from you and more, when none of your friends have ever experienced the amazing intensity of a lady who knows what she likes and knows how to make you sing like a British choir boy…. in bed.

      There is a very wide gully between what is considered sexually acceptable behavior for both sexes.

      This is why most ladies do not unleash who they are, for fear of being branded loose or promiscuous….or worse.
      If some the so labelled modest-and-therefore-boring ladies unleash the glory of their agro on you, my dear Jerry, you might be unable to handle it.

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    4. OluGt
      You have expressed another point of view I have on this, even though not exactly but close. I disagree with very few things you said, e.g…
      “The selfishness you speak of is non-existent.”
      Bro, that’s way too much oversight, this issue is very much alive, but women are largely to be blamed for dating men who should already share the blames for not practising feminism, hence, equality. But since you can’t force equality on people, the blame now lands on the women who choose to voluntarily stay in such relationships and still complain.

      BTW, people, check my main comment expressing my main views on this, which I intend to give some sense to the author and who else it concerns…

      Sex And Reciprocity

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      1. OluGt
        Hey. That link to my comment doesn’t work as intended.

        Instead, use your browser to search this page for…

        “October 6, 2016 at 11:38 pm”

        …which is the time-stamp on my comment, so you can directly navigate to exactly where it is on this page.

        It seems TNC has more work/coding to do on this platform, even making giving thumbs-up to comments reversible and less accidental.

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        1. Kambili M.A. Chimalu Post author
          I wanted to respond to your other comment, but it was deleted before I had the opportunity to. I am going to respond here then.

          In the history of intellectual discourse, I doubt any argument/side has been advanced through condescension and name calling. It alienates the opposition.

          If you ask me, I want the world to be all unicorns and rainbows, where the best of conditions and ideals rule. However, we live in the real world which is grounded in not-so ideal things/realities. It will be dismissive to tell women not to have sex with guys that do not prioritize their sexual pleasure when thousands of years of conditioning has taught them otherwise. This is a conversation that needs to be had often and without fear of censure (or being called an idiot) so that women will be bold enough to go for what they want.

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          1. OluGt
            I’m sincerely sorry for calling you stupid, in my deleted comment though…BUT I’m sick of authors like you who keep overshadowing the truth and the way forward with your “way-backwards” ideologies in your bias articles. I’m glad I made a second comment that summarizes my deleted comment in a more friendly way.

            I normally don’t argue this way, targeting the arguer and not the argument. Still, I can assure you that when I see posts like this bias misinformation of yours, I’m gonna “constructively” shut it down, because the public reads these things.

            I won’t repeat the thoughts in my deleted but much more extensive comment. This other one will do. Ponder over the details I wrote initially.

            I’m not always in the mood to laugh here. I wanna believe this is a hub of serious forward thinkers.

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          2. OluGt
            “It will be dismissive to tell women not to have sex with guys that do not prioritize their sexual pleasure when thousands of years of conditioning has taught them otherwise.”

            That is you right there, misinterpreting me halfway. Clap for yourself. But you forgot the part where I said it’s their fault for staying in such relationships. Truth be told, forget about thousands of years of conditioning, the women who remain in such relationships share the bulk of the blame.

            You think my stance is unrealistic. I’m sorry I can’t epp you to understand me further than I already did. Even at the extremes of this, every sentient being is capable of creating realities. I don’t even wanna go there.

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  2. Buchi
    Spot on. I agree with that the hypocrisy is fading away, but not fast enough. I’d like to tell girls not to be with people who don’t let you express yourself enough, but that might be unreasonable. I’d instead just hope us men read more of pieces like yours and learn to appreciate expressive and confident women.
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    1. Kambili M.A. Chimalu Post author
      I don’t think telling girls not to be with people that don’t let them express themselves might be unreasonable. Don’t you think that if more women started saying no, those men would be forced to re-evaluate their beliefs sooner?

      Hopefully, we can keep talking about this. All we can do is create awareness.

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  3. Lipglossmaffia
    Great piece. We need to talk about these topics more because some women are still not aware. Not old women, but young women, sex is just still something to do, not something to be enjoyed. Lots of women still need to be empowered, I really don’t know how we can’t keep teaching. So, well done for this piece.
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    1. Kambili M.A. Chimalu Post author
      Yes, it starts from a young age because women are conditioned to see sex as a “duty.” “Don’t talk to any boy. Don’t let any boy touch you. Etc.” They are never taught (by society) to prioritize their sexual pleasure.

      I think the first place to start is to remove the shame tied to sex and sexuality. We should talk about it more.

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  4. Solo
    Wonderful piece from Kambili. I’m all up for a woman who expresses her sexuality. What she loves and dislikes. Say it to me. Don’t be coy about it or repress it. If you love it in a certain way. I’ll treat you right in that way. God, please give me a girl who is not shy about what she wants during sex. In fact, a freak in the sheet. Amen!
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  5. kes
    If I may come in here, as a man, a lot of us think less of a woman when they make certain moves in bed, I was once like that, but as I grew older, I got to understand that my woman is just like me, with same sexual desires and wanting to have satisfaction, and I should be able to get her to that climax which ever way she wants it. I prefer to listen to what my partner want, cos men actually think we know all things (omini-knowest) but shi shi we don’t. So its plain stupid closing our ears to what women really want, hey! You might actually enjoy it.
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