Your contribution to a “Reader on African Sexualities”

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I like to look at African women’s sexualities in all its diversityand breadth. I recently found out that Dr Sylvia Tamale based at Makerere University is compiling a reader on African women’s sexualities. Do read her call for information below and please put your experience in the comments box to contribute to this important piece of research:

“I’m collecting diverse experiences that African women have had regarding their reproductive health/care. I think it’s important to document them, ranging from the most shocking to the most pleasant. I believe that it’ll be empowering to share such experiences and knowledge by publishing some of them in the “Reader on African Sexualities” that I am editing. This idea was triggered by my recent encounter with a rather impersonal and cold gynecologist where I’d gone for a routine pap smear. She asked, “Are you ready for the ORDEAL?!” Later, when I was undressing she, together with the nurse, held up a white sheet to “offer me some privacy.” Not seeing the logic in hiding my nakedness from people for whom I was going to bear my most ‘private’ body parts under the glare of a spotlight, I asked them to put down the sheet. However, the doctor insisted on holding it up arguing that it was their “usual practice.” When I told this story to a friend, she herself had several gyn/ob stories to tell, including the one who told her (as she lay on his hard examination bed with her thighs open), “Oh did you know you had grey hair?!” I am therefore inviting you to share some of your most dreadful (for some not so dreadful, even pleasant) Ob/Gyn visits stories. We’ve all been there for various reasons… prenatal & postnatal care, delivery, pap> smears, routine check-ups, IUD insertion & birth control advice, abortion,hymen reconstruction, artificial reproductive techniques, menopause management, Hysterectomy, Cosmetic Surgery, sexual advice, STD Diagnosis & Treatment, Abnormal Bleeding, Fibroid treatment, etc, etc, etc.Confidentiality will of course be observed if requested.

Dr Sylvia Tamale, Makerere University”

13 comments On Your contribution to a “Reader on African Sexualities”

  • When I initially moved to London at the age of 19 I registered at my local surgery (doctor)and was told I would need to have a smear test. I duly booked the appointment with the nurse and went along on the set date. I was quite nervous about the procedure as my best friend had told me that the test was painful but I didn’t feel like I had a choice so went along to the surgery on the date given for my appointment. As the nurse was preparing to test me she asked “How many sexual partners have you had” and I replied “None”. She replied, “In that case I can’t test you otherwise I will be taking your virginity with a spatula”.

    I have never been able to get those words out of my mind…

    Nana Darkoa

  • Lol!!!
    haha!! That is one losing-your-virginity story not many people will be able to top! – if you had gone ahead with it, ie!

  • oh for real? I just had a pap test yesterday. I guess that sort of makes me not a virgin? crap! who will marry me now? 🙂

  • Only ever been to see an OBGYN once in my life, I must have been about fifteen. My mum took my sister and I because we kept getting this persistent yeast infection.

    Well…this Gynae lady (very pleasant, I recall) and her nurse (not as affable) poked and prodded but could not get their numbingly cold instrument as much as a centimeter in. So they gave up after the third try and just took a swabbed sample.

    This whole psuedo-exam left me hurting some.

    My mother and the friendly doctor lady had a private chat afterwards. Till this day I still think my Mum just wanted the 411 on whether or not my sis and I were still ‘unspoiled’. I mean, why the hussle for just a swipe?

  • man, anonymous, that’s some crazy s***. ur mom must have been really paranoid. I can see myself being a little curious abt whether my kids are having sex or not but i don’t think i’d go that far.

  • I recently went to the OB/GYN to get a routine check up since these are the last weeks of my pregnancy. I laid on my back and let him do his little swab thing. Since it’s summer in Georgia, I had been sweating profusely and hadn’t had time to cool down before my examination so I was dreading his reaction. It was the quickest swab I’ve ever had.

    “That’s it? You’re done?” I asked. “Well, yeah,” said the male doc. “Unless you and your friends want me to hang out for longer…”

    He was making a reference to my three LARGE hemorrhoids. No mention of my sweaty thighs what-so-ever!

  • Congrats on your pregnancy, Abena! Wow @ your doctor. Part of me wants to chuckle, but at the same time, no time for jokes when I’m in such a vulnerable position. lol

    I guess I’m kinda uptight. 🙂

  • If she had not asked, and you had gone ahead to have the test, and consequently losing your virgity in that manner, do you think you would have been a different person? I ask because there are men who do not believe virginity can be lost in this way, or through sport etc. If you would, I would be curious to know what could dig about this, or even just a survey of how many women have actually lost their virginity in similar circumstances.

  • Well Esi,…if I was to play Devil’s Advocate for a sec…look at it this way, my Mum probably figured she’d kill two birds with one stone.

    My sis and I ‘were’ afflicted and needed the exam, so why not satisfy her curiosity while she was at it.

    I wonder though what she might have done had it backfired on her and either of us turned out to have been active…now that would be one traumatic teenage experience explaining to your typical Ghanaian Mum (after the countless and endlessly horrific sex-lectures) whom you were sexing and ‘for what two reasons’.

  • @Darian – Yep, I would think it is not the most romantic way to “loose” your virginity. Hey, maybe I should write a post on how did you “loose” your virginity

    @Esi – Erm…I’m guessing not 🙂

    @Anon – I am hoping that you haven’t been back to the Ob/Gyn because you have had no need to and not because you were put off from your first visit

    @Abena – Sis, you know if I don’t have any children its because you have put me off pregnancy right? 🙂

    @Pen Powder – No, I don’t think I would have been a different person at all. I don’t think my hymen (or lack of one) defines me as a person at all. I don’t think you would actually realise if you “lost” your hymen through sports, etc…I think the first time you have sex would be always uncomfortable whether you have a hymen or not

  • I agree with Nana’s last response to Pen Powder. I don’t think the concept of virginity should be defined in a purely physiological sense, i.e. broken hymen. On the other hand, the approach I am proposing begs the question of where to draw the line between virgin/non-virgin. Does oral sex count? What if a couple uses toys for penetration and not an actual penis, etc? See where I’m going with this?

  • @Shane – I love the way you expand the conversations, lol…I had not thought of lines between virgin/non virgin and using toys for penetration and not a penis. Does the post on the subject of virgins and virginity address some of these questions?

  • @ Esi, who said u are a virgin! 🙂

    on a crazy note, i wonder how guys wud be tested 4 virginity. would they insert a spatula in our behinds!! Man I’m scared. 🙂

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