If you are reading this surrounded by other women, I will suggest you pose for a minute and start asking each other, what is female sex pleasure? How would you describe it? Chances are, if you are in a group of 10, you might have at least 6 different description of what sex satisfaction for women really is. The common wisdom has it that, women are experiencing sex pleasure differently, hence there ought to be no standards, no expectations and no aspiration – men again, they are cleared; any performance on their part is good performance.
Personally, I think, it’s unfair, barbaric and oppressive to allow women to engage in sex without knowing what to expect for themselves. We (women) across cultures, we are busy training other women on how to satisfy their men – I can assure you majority of women will eloquently and fluently describe what male satisfaction is and how to get them there, but science and society teach little on what female satisfaction looks like and how to attain that (most women consider absence of pain as pleasure). It would have been different if men on the other hand would have been teaching other men to satisfy women, but that is not happening; at least in my culture. I would really be excited to learn from your culture!!! – To most of us, sex is a one sided affair, slave-master relation on many levels.
I wish to tell you a bit about Asha (not her real name), 47 years old, and mother of 7 living in Dar es Salam, married for the last 25 years. She was married a virgin and her first encounter was real painful – as she cried, everyone else was rejoicing her pain – the politics of virginity in African cultures. 25 years later what has changed is only the intensity of her pain and normalization of her pain by her people.
Asha describes her husband as the man who won’t let a day pass without demanding sex, often telling her, ‘you are here to give me sex, when I want it and how I want it’ several times that Asha refuses to have sex, and ends up beaten, insulted. She recalls her husband calling other women, in front of her, asking the other women to have sex with him because the wife refuses. She assumes, the answer from the other women was yes, as the husband immediately put on his clothes and left.
Asha was summoned to family meetings a number of times to address her husbands claims, in all meetings where the conclusion was the same: you are your husband’s sex object – literally speaking, and for that you have no excuse to deny him his rights to have sex with you on his terms; not your terms. In those meetings, Asha tries to urge and plead to family members to at least tell the husband, that he too needs to do better and ensure she enjoys it. The answer she received was that, it’s her responsibility to be creative.
The feminist, that I am, I couldn’t resist asking why she is still married to that man. Asha says to me, most women she has spoken too, are narrating worse experiences during sex, and she is convinced her experience is norma; after all, she has never seen women protesting for sex satisfaction or any men failed for inability to satisfy his wife! She decided to find ways to co-exist with the situation. Her two main strategies were to use tomato sauce, spreading it on pads and wearing it, claiming she is on her period – I pray to God that she does not develop cancer. Her second strategy is to have as many children as possible for with every child, she at least has 6 months free from painful sex (she has managed to convince her husband that sex is not allowed after seven months of pregnancy until the child is 3 months). Asha had to leave work to raise her 7 children. Now that she cannot bear any more kids, she is busy attending funerals and weddings of relatives. To her any excuse for a sleep over outside her house, she will go for it.
I am not trying to urge that all women have painful sex. A significant number of women do, and majority have what we call routine/obligatory and flat sex. You do it, because you have to; it might not give you pain, but it might not give you pleasure as well.– Pleasure is “reserved” for men and not for women- naaahhh!
Like Asha, there are so many women whose dissatisfaction with sex has had a direct impact on their socio-economic well being. Marital rape and sex induced violence is also on the rise. Our own bodies are becoming our worst nightmare; our bedrooms are becoming our prisons, and yet, we the faithful embrace patriarchal norms, to not talk about it!
The feminist in me believes, sex ought to be enjoyed by both. Pleasure and satisfaction is not exclusive to men. I too, need it; women too have a right to it and we must claim our pleasure.
The question is how to get there when even the feminists spaces pay little attention to it?
~ By Mwanahamisi Singano (AF writer, Tanzania)