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When Did You First Feel Safe With Sexual Exploration?


There is a common thread that runs across African cultures; particularly those that share inherited (or imposed) values from Victorian colonizers. That thread is that we are taught to suppress, ignore and abhor sexual desires or curiosity. Puritanical culture put further limitations on that curiosity by teaching us that nudity is shameful and something that must be repudiated at all costs. It’s ironic, but there is a direct relation between a society’s religious/moral zeal and the prevalence of rape culture. In Kenya for instance, where mini skirts are banned for their perceived “indecency”, rapists are given such harsh punishments as cutting grass as a penalty for their crime. Saudi Arabia and the ‘Bible Belt’ in the US have similar abysmal track records on rape culture. Today, we live in an Africa where the sight of a woman’s breasts (whether visible in breastfeeding or unintentional side boob) provokes pietistic men and aunties into a full on rage. Doom and fire will surely follow such a loose, wicked woman! Meanwhile, as recently as my grandmother’s era, the sight of a fully bare-chested woman would incite little more than a cursory glance from passers by.

Nevertheless, there are some of us who have been fortunate to break free from this peculiar tyranny. The freedom and permission to explore one’s sexuality may have come in stages or during one singular life-altering event. In trying to recollect when I first felt at liberty to explore my sexual self, I realize that it was when I had achieved some level of financial independence. That was in my early 20s. I was finally able to buy my own clothes and therefore determine how I wanted to present myself to the world. Sometimes, it was in fun and flirty ways with lots of lace or form fitting skirts. Or if I wished, I could cover myself from head to toe in wool blends. For me, fashion was a way of expressing and exploring myself sexually, whether I wanted to engage in sex or not.

For some other women, a change in environment can act as a catalyst for sexual exploration. Putting physical distance between them and the source of their sexual suppression can serve as the conduit through which they discover their sexual selves. In scenarios like this, a foreign environment feels safer to seek out sexual enlightenment than at home. It’s one of the reasons that a noticeable number of freshman students engage in intercourse (in all its wild and craziest forms) for the first time. What no one tells these young women is that sex on campus comes with its own set of unique and undesirable consequences. Is it worth it? A number of women I polled said “Absolutely.” And they would do it all over again!

There is any number of ways to find your X – your safe place to investigate the eroticism that we all harbor within us. For some women, that X might represent a person…a lover with whom you’ve felt secure with for the very first time. That X could be as far away as a new city or as close as the kitchen floor with the lights turned down low and the freezer door wide open.

What /where was the first time you felt safe to explore your passionate self? If you haven’t yet, what do you think it will take?




  1. Such a great question – and for myself, I think at every age I feel more confident in my sexuality. Like now, I turned 40 a few years ago and I am actually feeling more assertive about negotiating the kind of sex life that I want to have whereas in my 30s I was in my ‘hoe phase’ but still really concerned about pleasing my partners …which is, of course, a legitimate thing to do, as long as you don’t suppress your own desires in the process.

    • Ehhhh…. Madam. You turned 40 a few MONTHS ago, not years. Stop pretending as if you grow pass de rest of us eh? LOL!

      But I totally agree with you. As I enter each new phase, I have become more assertive and less accepting of dissatisfying sex. Like…since we’re both here, we need to make the most of this time la!

  2. I think the way we are brought up culturally , is about making sure men enjoy themselves including during sex. Religion as well like Malaka said paints a dirty picture of nudity& fornication. So we always want to do what is right and be socially acceptable.
    However , there comes a time when it’s important to do what makes you happy, to want to experience that so called orgasm that you read about or even watched. In my case I’d say, that with age& disappinting experiences, I’ve become more open minded & I favour the desire to feel satisfied sexually.

  3. I started masturbating at ten and I think I’ve felt safe with sexual exploration since that time. However, my mum didn’t exactly approve of me masturbating…there wasn’t shame with that but perhaps more like a little bit of hesitancy when I was in her presence. When I was by myself dieee “more vim.”

    In terms of full sexual freedom I think it might have been the first time I sucked a dick. I was about seventeen. Because I spent twelve years fucking myself before I started having sex with other people I’ve always been really clear about what I liked. But in my last relationship I didn’t advocate for my own pleasure as much as I thought I would. I think there’s a pure sexual freedom that comes from the inside and permeates your sexual identity but I also think when you are someone who is conditioned to nurture men’s vulnerabilities then your sexual freedom gets negotiated in different ways when you are fucking other people.

    So I actually think I was more sexually free as a teenager and throughout my twenties and became less “free” in the last few years as I fell in love with complicated men and started fucking them under complicated circumstances. Not less agency or assertiveness but less…selfishness? …self advocacy… I’m not sure, I just know I don’t like it.

  4. I was having an intense conversation about men at a local hotel lounge and I was the only Latina and I felt oppressed, suppressed and depressed, I just felt such an overwhelming sense of impeding doom. When I came home I was like I don’t understand that, I don’t get it and I don’t want to and most of all I won’t claim it!!! In the morning I managed to process the intensity of the comments and realized that I was culturally shocked. I believe that I was never sexually suppressed and was well aware of sex by pre-k where I had a crush on a boy!!! I believe I have to attribute such knowledge and imagination to radio and magazine Novelas and trust me in Spanish it is steamy. Never masturbated until after my divorce at 38!!! Had plenty of sex available to not feel the urge to finger myself. I believe that culture has everything to do with how you process sex. To us Puerto Ricans it’s more than marriage and bearing children. It is pure pleasure!!!

  5. Very true about moving away from a suppressing environment that makes you feel more at liberty to explore your sexuality. That’s certainly what it took for me.

    I’m a virgin only in the classical sense ergo have done it all but let a peen penetrate me…mostly cause I’m still a bit hung up on that.

    I’m turning 31 in a few months and I’ve began exploring same sex attractions…hangups notwithstanding. Always considered myseld to be straight with some streaks of colour. So out to better define just how bright those streaks are 😉 Anyone here have a story to share about their experiences with this?


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