There is something fundamentally wrong – and using the word ‘wrong’ here doesn’t even describe it – but yes, there is something so deeply wrong with the way we groom both girls and boys to initiate/see sex.
I followed a thread on twitter recently and it was sad to see that a lot of young women don’t understand that harassment goes both ways. Sexual abuse, harassment and rape happen to men as much as they happen to women. Sadly, we have a society that frowns at men opening up or talking about these things.
This is a conversation I will never get tired of talking about. The definition of rape by the law is not comprehensive, and honestly, it’s about time that ‘timeless’ criminal act be reviewed.
Here are two things that thread reminded me of:
I’ve shared this story before on BBM via status message last year. I met a guy and we got talking for a while. One day, he told me, “I like sex.” I replied, “I really love sex.” He looked stunned and offended. When we resumed talking, he felt there was something wrong with me liking sex and admitting it. He wanted to shame me for admitting my desires, but before he could do that, I had to educate him that there was nothing wrong with a lady being expressive about her sexual needs.
I am sharing this story with this person’s permission. A friend here sent a message last year asking if a girl can rape a guy. I told him yes. He said he wanted to talk with me. I gave him my number and he called. After introductions, he told me, “I don’t know, Cleopas, but I think I was raped last week.” I asked what happened and he shared how this girl he was seeing insisted on having sex even when he did not want it. After much struggling and her ‘fondling’ him, he couldn’t help his body’s arousal. I’ll stop here with this story. He was ashamed of even having an erection, and to save face, he went ahead with the sex. Using his words, he said, “I felt violated.”
We talked at length and I told him that it is natural for the body to react even if force is used. The same goes for the vagina. If a penis is being forced into a woman’s vagina, the body will try to self-lubricate because that’s what it does in preparation of sexual contact. This is to make entry possible and reduce pain or hurt. It is not a conscious thing, it is literally the body’s reaction, and it doesn’t mean the woman is enjoying it. This is the same way the eye blinks if it senses danger, no matter how hard you try not to; the protective wiring of the eye causes that reaction. The body does that in many other instances.
He told me that he had shared the incident with his friend and the friend told him to stop whining and that it’s just sex, that after all as a man, sex is the only language they spoke and that it’s impossible for a girl to rape or harass a guy. He was told that if he did not “enjoy” it, his “thing” wouldn’t stand.
I can go on and on about this. There is something fundamentally wrong with our knowledge and understanding of sex and how the body works. And if nothing is done, we need to prepare for a whole lot of issues.
We have the following problems on our hands:
- Women being shamed for being forward about their sexual needs without beating around the bush. (Oh, she must be an ashawo to admit liking sex)
- Too many women thinking that it is only the men that should seek consent or be vocal about their sexual expectations.
- Too many women not knowing that consent is a two-way street. (Yes, ask before you assume if you’re the one initiating).
- Men being shamed for admitting to being abused or harassed. (And many people thinking that a man cannot be raped, abused or harassed)
- Society equating a man’s worth to his sexual prowess and ability to have sex in any condition.
- Society equating a woman’s worth to her ability to withhold or abstain from sex. (The notion that a woman’s value or worth/dignity is between her legs)
- Men not being taught what consent is and what doesn’t constitute consent.
- Women being taught that acting hard to get and giving mixed signals is the way to approach sex.
- Women being taught that men can never say no to sex as the machine that they are.
- Women being taught that a man saying no to their sexual advances makes them undesirable or not beautiful, therefore leading to issues of self esteem and a desperation to be appealing.
- Men being taught that a woman saying no to their sexual advances injures their ego and their right to the body of a woman. Men being taught that a way a woman dresses gives them the right to approach or harass her.
- The hypocritical way we make sex education and conversations on sex a taboo, therefore producing confused millions of people who don’t understand anything about sex, sexual harassment and issues of consent.
Let me stop here. We have a lot of education to do. There is no point acting coy about these issues again. There are so many dysfunctional assumptions about these things and a world of further complications and disaster awaits us.
Written by Enwongo Cleopas