Recently I was having a conversation with some fellow African feminists and over the vino we were getting into issues of where and how to get your good sex and the issue of intersectionality came up, as it does with any bunch of feminists worth their salt. Although we agreed on a number of issues we also had some slight, differences, and thus ended up at a cross road. This disagreement that has since been slightly resolved after I wrote a slightly problematic intro to this very article (many apologies to you my people).
Now I will admit that a few conversations with some feminists have had me trying to defend my particular brand of politics so much that at times I can get a little ‘kitty cat claws’ about it, which is what happened when I had a chat over chardonnay with the aforementioned friends. The disagreement had me feeling some type of way to the extent I wrangled a different friend into a two-hour conversation about it where we decided that I was queen of knowledge and everyone’s else’s hat was wrong and made of bread.
The disagreement in approaches by people I do share fundamental ideas with did, however, give me the chance to really sit and have a look and think about how I frame my feminism, which can be summed up in the eloquent way of ‘ride dick for dicks sake’.
That as a woman you should be able to have sex with whomever you want, whenever you want, however you want, purity politics be damned.
But the question that the conversation, ones that came before it and subsequent others raised was, was it a frivolous (and possibly reckless) form of subverting the patriarchy especially in an African context filled with FGM, child brides, a Supreme Court Justice who did not (and possibly still does not) believe in marital rape and some of the highest prevalence of HIV in the world? This also got me thinking about conversations I had had where the work I do had sometimes made me out to be the Tia Tequila of the feminist party, all dental dams and lubricant and glitter, here to turn up with the real work of raising the girl child, empowering women in the workplace and reaching those ever evasive SDGs.
This is not the first time that this stream of thought had emerged. During a conversation entitled #SexingWhilstFeminist there were some tweeters who stated that this thread was reckless because it did not take into account the problems of women facing HIV on the continent. That our bubble gum conversation did not take into account the vulnerable members of society, the implied argument that sex was something fun to engage with once all the serious work was done.
But I care to counter that, sex is fuck off serious. What many do not understand about the notion of ‘riding dick for dicks sake’ is that as a sex positive woman not only have I looked at how yesterday’s ideas about marriage as a financial interaction have led to today’s rape culture but also looked at how HIV spread from mines affects the economic prospects of the oldest girl child raising her orphaned siblings. I have looked at looked at how a woman can be a CFO and be pressurized into having a baby, essentially facing the same situation as a woman in a rural village who’s told her entire existence is to pop out tiny humans. I have looked at how governments have policed access to safe abortion and maternal health whilst universities have constantly failed rape victims.
I have looked this clusterfuck of interacting socio economic and political factors in the face and gone ‘not today Satan’. Riding dick for dicks sake is not simply about having sex but about choosing what happens to your body. It is not about only making sure that you are constantly doing the reverse cowgirl but also about having a giddy up on our sexual and, in turn, bodily autonomy.
Who owns your pussy is the basis of a number of these debates, be it rape culture, the right to marry off your girl child or even HIV prevention and access to abortion services. It even seeps into ideas of being able to breast feed in public. It seeps into a world where a woman’s hands can be chopped off because her husband blames her for a lack of offspring.
It is all about when can a woman’s sexuality be brandished and controlled and by who.
The sex positive rhetoric is no different from telling a young girl studying finance she can run a successful company one day. It may not happen today, or tomorrow but it can happen with enough internal and external work. It is about understanding that no matter who you are and where you come from and what you are facing you should hold the key to your vagina and in turn own your body. And that can be summarised as ‘ride that dick for dicks sake’ because it is not tied into you being a commodity, or you being something that can be ‘taken’, something that can be policed and something that can be controlled by anyone but you.
So can sex positive feminists be trusted with the revolution even though we are seen as the tequila sisters at this womanist party? Yes, because we have done the work and see the intersectionality and seek to tackle it on a whole host of levels.
From silent protests in front of the President of South Africa to holding online conversations, from teaching women that about the need for an end to forms of FGM to saying don’t fake orgasms sex positivity is often an important part missing in any rhetoric of women empowerment. Telling women that they can be President but not continuously telling them that they deserve to enjoy their bodies can be counterproductive. Sexual liberation is not a privilege thing. Our message is not any less important because it is framed in a fun way, we take the revolution into the bedrooms (and wherever else you may choose to get jiggy).
Sex positive feminists, we got this.
By: Kagure Mugo, 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, digital and social media consultant 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.
[This post was edited on 17th August at 1:20pm GMT by the request of the author]
This blog post is part of a series of ongoing debates and conversations on #BlackFeminisms ahead of The Black Feminisms Forum which will be held on the 5th & 6th of September, 2016 in Salvador, Bahia, ahead of the 2016 AWID Forum. Check here for updates, information and activities of the BFF.