SEX AND SEXUALITY

The Power of the Pussy

Kagure Mugo, Feminism, Masturbation

By Kagure Mugo

Have you ever sunk your fingers into yourself? Not in a flurry of horniness, or during some sexy time with a partner or out of boredom at 30, 000 feet during a flight (if that is your thing). Not rushed it but touched yourself slowly, deliberately so that you really understand what the feeling between your legs is all about? Allowed yourself to submerge into yourself?

You should.

It is important to explore the depths because the vagina is a magical, largely unexplored wonderland, and powerful place. Not only is it wildly misunderstood but the vagina, like its female host, can bounce back from intense trauma as you do not call it the miracle of child birth for nothing, the miracle being how does one even begin to do anything with it again. This miracle aside there is also the, equally important, fact that it is an all engulfing, all consuming, vortex of pleasure that one can literally get sucked into.

Kegel muscles are a very real thing. You contain the cosmos between your thighs, feel the big bang.

I have increasingly become enraged with the idea that women are secondary consumers of pleasure with men being the target market and us picking up the scraps. I also understand that in the general scheme of things this may not be the most ‘important’ thing to be angered about when it comes to the fight for women globally however, issues of pleasure and sex tie into matter of agency over one’s body. If one cannot negotiate a sexual transaction with a partner what more can one negotiate from a place of power in other sectors of your life?

Understanding the importance of sexual agency, I went looking, trying to find out about women and pleasure. The first thing I properly learned about the power of female sexuality was baby sexology 101.

The clitoris.

It is criminal to mention sex and women and not mention the clitoris. Which is why a great number of men (and some women) need to be be brought up on charges of corrupted coitus. Driving the dick under the influence of ignorance.  More often than not people will think of pleasure in terms of simply filling a woman up with a swollen appendage and not stopping to think of the numerous erogenous zones doted around the female body, one of the most important ones being that little bulb of desire between her thighs.

A great deal of the information I found about loving your vagina came from very western sites. I was given all the usual advice. Touch yourself, do a weeks worth of stretches and get into a yoga type pose and have a good look at your pussy. Know it well enough to pick it out of a line up if it was arrested. However, the inner traditional farm girl in me was reluctant to go all the way.

I needed to ground the knowledge of knowing and owning my sex and sexuality in something. Thus my Afrocentric nature refused to allow me to stop there. The notion of the power of women and pleasure could not have started as something in a ‘Journal Of Sex’ published somewhere in the States. There had to be something here, on the continent, that had gotten us to a point where women’s sexuality had to be so seriously policed that the aforementioned clitoris was in some places cut off.

My search led me to find AfricanSexualities: A Reader, with information about Osunality, an Igbo-based belief in the goddess Osun. She was the goddess of childbirth, the life cycle and most importantly pleasure. Osun represents ‘a female centered, life transforming energy that courses through and animates life’. It is a force that is ‘highly sensual and sexual’.  The paper ‘Osunality’, by  Nkiru Nzengwu, states that women who embody the Osunality force ‘brandish their sexuality openly and quite unselfconsciously.’

The notion of the phallocentric nature of sex was actually birthed in Ancient Greek philosophies, with the local context being a little more female friendly. Other traditions from within various African countries and contexts recognised the vagina not as being penetrated but as engulfing the penis, able to completely drain it of its power but still able to continue even when it is sexual partner is deflated. This idea of the vagina flips patriarchal notions of sexuality on their head, and allows for a new conceptualization of the agency of women within the sexual ritual.

So outside of all the socio-historical research and rights rhetoric what does it mean? It all means that you should be having amazing sex. Epic sex, mind blowing sex. Because understanding the power of the vagina means that you understand that it should be getting first class treatment. To waste the sensual power of the vagina on bad sex is the equivalent of using a nuclear power plant to power a couple of street lamps.

There is so much potential that is lost with current ideas of sex, furthered by porn, and widespread ideas of men being the main consumers of pleasure — ‘giving it to her’, ‘pounding the pussy’ and ‘having a third leg’ takes power away from the vagina and places sex in an extremely phallocentric light. Sex becomes all about the penis and how whenever it turns up to the party then it becomes the shindig of the year. This takes away from the fact that the female body has so much, and needs so much, and can do so much, all on its own.

A woman can have multiple orgasms and the vagina can rejuvenate and reinvigorate itself after marathon sessions. The female body is built for pleasure, in so many ways however this has been suppressed not only physically but mentally. Not only is there the physical manifestation of women not needing pleasure (a survey showed that only 54 percent of heterosexual women experience regular/any orgasms) but women themselves have been wrapped into cognitive notions of sex being a ‘chore’, ‘duty’ or something that is supposed to happen in a relationship or interaction that can sometimes be enjoyable.

This thinking needs to be dismantled. The sexual act is more of a personal, spiritual, and social journey to get women to the point of being able to know about, own, and have the sex they want.

Some men do understand that there is sex outside of the penis but so many men (and women) still believe that a penis is the only thing that makes sex, sex. Those who do understand that there is more to life than that make amazing lovers. They are the ones who their partners speak about their trysts in hushed tones over glasses of chardonnay and giggles. They are the ones who make their partners shift their hips when the memory of the last night the spent together floods them. It is the partners who high-five themselves for giving head or knowing that they need to stroke the clitoris to make a woman’s knees weak that secretly rule the world of sex. They are the ones who understand the pure, astronomical force of a woman’s sex outside of the penis and for that they are silently saluted around the world.

For the women with these astronomical organs it is about finding out what makes the big bang happen. It is about finding what it is you want in bed, no matter how much or how little. How ordinary or how weird. It is about understanding the path to power is a personal one, not only is it about suddenly becoming a sex goddess, it’s about knowing what you want or do not want.

The power is in the choice made in knowledge, not the act.

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SEX AND SEXUALITY

Touch Yourself – Because it’s good for you

Kagure Mugo, Feminism, Masturbation
Kagure Mugo

By Kagure Mugo

‘Get your hands away from there.’

This is the reprimand we have gotten since we were small girls, curious about what was going on between our thighs.

Boobs? Sure. Legs? Cool. Hips? Fine. But this vagina thing…with its ability to change temperature, moisture levels and make you tingle all over, what is it? What is it about?

Unfortunately we were never allowed to know.

There is a need to have conversations around all the taboo around masturbation to break that taboo down. So this is for everyone who touched themselves and felt bad about it. Everyone who was told off for digging for pleasure, everyone who was told only boys spank the monkey. For every woman who heard they would grow hair on the palms of their hands.

Masturbation is vilified. You know it’s bad when even the boys are not allowed to do it, and they are seemingly allowed to do anything. But gender relations aside the idea of masturbation is so powerful it had to be shut down and fast. Because with masturbation women can make sex fantastic.

And then the world might end. And anarchy will ensue.

Or not.

With the idea of pleasure being marketed as a male dominated activity and women seemingly picking up the scraps there is a need to change the phallocentric approach to sex.

The vagina is a powerful cosmic space which people must respect and understand, especially those who have them. You need to be well educated in the way it works but you cannot get an education without taking some classes. And unfortunately some things are better learned on a practical level.

Masturbation is sex with someone you should love, deeply and wildly. It is about taking back your sexual power and your sexy and knowing what makes you tick so you know what time you are coming.

This chat is to tackle that stigma surrounding masturbation, give some tips and open the space to have that conversation. Because late at night, when you just want a little taste of your own awesome and you take it, you are really not the only one.

So you really should go right ahead.

Don’t feel guilty about it. Or do, if that’s what gets you off.

 

Join in the dialogue this evening on masturbation. 7pm South African time. Follow the hashtags #TouchUrself and #SexTalkNaija

Kagure Mugo is the intoxicatingly scary gatekeeper of HOLAAfrica, an online Pan African queer womanist community dealing with sexuality and all things woman.

She is also a writer and freelance journalist who tackles sex, politics and other less interesting topics. During weekends she is a wine bar philosopher and polymath for no pay.

GENDER POLITICS

Why the casual sexism at UCT matters

Dela Gwala
Dela Gwala

By Dela Gwala

“The girls here are all sluts man, is it any better at Rhodes?”. I overheard this question on Jammie plaza last year. The unidentified dudebro essentially ruined my lunch and made me vow to continue hiding out in the postgraduate corners of this institution.  Against my better judgement, I continued to take tea breaks on those pigeon-infested stairs. One day, I came across a poster promoting UCT’s netball team. It was basically a full-blown shot of several pairs of disembodied legs with the catchphrase “UCT netball team revealed”. Strange I thought, whenever I see a poster that concerns the rugby team their legs are attached to the rest of their bodies. A few days later, walking back to the dingy postgrad labs, I noticed another poster. This one was advertising a College House party. In the bottom right corner it said ‘R 20’ and underneath that ‘Puss ‘n Pint.’

I’m not the only one that continuously bumps into UCT’s culture of casual sexism. The First Year’s introduction to life in a campus residence seems to be a training ground for misogyny.  A recent Facebook post that popped up on my timeline spoke of the questionable war cries sang by members of some of the male residences. Apparently, in recent years, the Smuts Hall boys sang that they could go to Fuller House and get some free vagina…And they sang this to the Fuller girls. Also, the Kopano boys had been heard listfully wishing that women’s buttocks were like buns.

Opening up the latest edition of SAX appeal, the editor started his letter with the sentence “Nabeel you’re going to get all the bitches”. It’s satirical social commentary they said. Sian Ferguson, UCT alumnus and current Rhodes student, tweeted “good satire should make the oppressor feel uncomfortable, not the oppressed”. The common denominator in all of the above examples is that a group of people that are often socially, politically and economically marginalised due to their gender are thrown under the bus for the sake of humour.

“When we live in a world where street harassment is just a normal part of life it sets up a culture where even worse things happen behind closed doors.” These were the words attached to a piece of street art whose image made its way around social media a couple of months ago. The same goes for casual sexism. When you create an environment that is accepting of gross objectification of women then you are fuelling a culture that will ignore the violence committed against them. If we’re all just skanks, sluts, hoes and bitches then what happens to us is inconsequential – we had it coming anyway.

I wonder if the unidentified dudebro from the beginning of this article is aware that the language he uses comes straight out of the mouth of a sex offender. Words that demean women because of their sexual past/activities are always the first port of call to rationalise what they’ve done. Policing women’s sexuality allows for a social space where they get blamed for sexual crimes committed against them. If you think our worth or respectability is determined by how much sex we are or aren’t having or the amount of clothing we wear then those will be the first questions that come up when you’re trying to determine whether an act of sexual violence has happened or not.

Being on a campus where judging women’s sexuality is part of everyday conversation means we don’t ask important questions. We don’t ask why we’re not sure of the procedure/policy of reporting sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus. We don’t ask why we don’t know the statistics of how many of these incidents occur on campus. We don’t ask why DISCHO, the body in charge of dealing with these cases, is underfunded and understaffed.  We don’t ask these questions because we’re too busy blaming women for going about their lives the way they see fit. We don’t ask because we don’t really care. When women are only vaguely human – owners of body parts we mock and objectify – then why should we?

OPPORTUNITIES

Call for Papers: Women, Gender and Sexualities: An Anthology

Call for Papers: Women, Gender and Sexualities: An Anthology

Co-Edited Dr. Rujuta Mandelia (Temple University) and Moiyattu Banya, MSW (Temple University)

Papers are invited for an anthology that provides the historical foundations of diverse feminist discourses on gender, race, class, sexuality and disability vis-à-vis nationality, citizenship, and post-colonialism, the critical understanding of how women live their experiences in diverse cultural, geographical, and religious, worlds, the fundamental construction of sex, gender, sexuality and class as social constructions and how they are enacted within respective societies. In other words, how is gender perceived and enacted in different societies? This anthology  also provides the integral intersections of sex, class, gender and sexuality as social groups and how they work within systems of patriarchy, and the foundational understanding that global affects the local in multiple ways just as the local affects the global. It will also focus on women as agents and subjects of change. In other words, how women/genders negotiate and bring change through activism? This anthology will provide foundational readings,personal narratives and essays.

Topics solicited include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Sexualized Bodies

  • Violence Against Women and LGBTQIA Communities

  • Transnational Activism

  • Women in STEM

  • Immigration

  • Labor Movements

  • Nationalism and Citizenship

  • Law (both local and international) and Its Impact on Women

We are looking for personal narratives as well as essays not more than 1000 words.

All submissions must be final and fully edited. Please submit your work with a brief author bio of 100-150 words no later than February 15, 2015.  Please submit your work as an attachment in Word doc or docx. Authors must have a record of academic/activist writing, have experience in women’s issues, women’s human rights work, and a sound understanding of feminist theories relevant to the anthology. Kindly note that only authors whose work are chosen for the anthology will be notified.

Please forward your submissions to Rujuta Mandelia (rujuta@temple.edu) or Moiyattu Banya (moiyattu.banya@temple.edu)