How Purity Culture Is Ruining African Women’s Sex Lives

Purity Culture Ruins African Women's Sex

As a young woman, one of the biggest hindrances to me giving and receiving sexual pleasure is undoubtedly religion. I’ve dabbled in multiple religious beliefs and the one thing that has remained constant is the small judgmental voice in the back of my head making me overthink simple issues resulting in a loss of pleasure when it comes to the bedroom. 

Virginity and Purity

Have you seen those job vacancy posts that are looking for an intern with 5 years of experience? I’m being dramatic but you get my point. As a woman, men want a freak in bed who is also a virgin. Have you ever heard that, “practice makes perfect?” How do I perfect an art without practising? Religion and tradition idolise virginity. This glorification of the virgin is why innocent people are violated for one ritual or another. The pursuit of purity is ruining sex for us as women. This is one of the reasons why we stay in bad relationships with people we’ve had sex with. We don’t want to increase our body count. Not only that, but it’s also hard to enjoy sex when you know the remorse and shame where the walk of shame derives its name from. 

Spiritual spouses

Have you ever heard adults discussing an unmarried female relative and accuse her of having a spiritual husband? Supposedly, when you are troubled by the incubus/succubus demons, you will experience sexual activity in your dreams while you’re sleeping. On the other hand, scientists believe that your dreams reflect your reality. This would mean that, if you are sexually aroused or ovulating, you could experience dreams of a sexual nature. The fear of these demonic sexual offenders instills fear in women to deter from sexual thoughts and even watching sexual content as that could open a spiritual door for spiritual spouses to enter through. 


If the opposite gender doesn’t do it for you sexually what are you meant to do? Masturbation is not on the table either. Even Paul acknowledged that being a eunuch isn’t for everyone. People can be stuck in unhappy relationships in order to conform to societal standards. This repression of urges, in my opinion, does more harm than good. If, for example, men of the cloth could see who they wanted without fear of retribution, I’d like to believe that we’d have less little boys being sexually assaulted. Lift the lid from a boiling pot, release the pressure and let it simmer.



Having sex outside of marriage is a sin. Masturbation is also a sin (I have not found the scripture to substantiate this claim.) If both these things are a sin, how are we meant to alleviate the arousal which comes from ovulation from as early as 13 years of age? In order to avoid having the dreaded soul ties, you’d think pleasuring yourself would bring relief without side effects. Apparently not. Masturbating is one of the spiritual doors which bring about the incubus/succubus demons. So every month, your hormones will increase your sex drive to astronomical proportions and you’re just meant to take a cold shower or just walk it off. 

Sex Work

There’s a verse in the bible that says, “if a man has sex with a prostitute, he becomes like a loaf of bread.” The same bible has a story about how a prophet was instructed by God to marry a prostitute in order to prove a point. Sex work is work. It’s not called the oldest profession for nothing. It should be termed the most discredited profession. Women who engage in sex work struggle with the stigma of the profession and are judged by their families, communities and society as a whole. This has led to sex workers in most African countries not having access to basic human rights. Most countries do not have the legal policies to protect these workers in their places of employment. They are exposed to atrocious crimes and receive no help from the justice systems. 


Indulging in sexual relations while menstruating is frowned upon as dirty. I blame the book of Leviticus for that. However, science and women’s magazines swear by sex during your cycle as a pain reliever. If, like me, you suffer from dysmenorrhea, you’ll know how desperate it gets for pain relief. Studies show that being aroused alleviates period cramps. How would this work if masturbation, watching porn or having sex during your period are all sins? What am I supposed to do with paralytic period pain? 


I’m not here to tell you what to think, I want you to start thinking about these issues and the minefield which is sex and religion. Women have to manoeuvre around all these critical issues and I’m a firm believer that this is what’s ruining the sex lives of African women. Religious beliefs are the chains inhibiting women from achieving optimal sexual pleasure. Overthinking a thing takes the fun out of it. That’s the whole premise underpinning the Cognitive Dissonance Theory. As humans, we avoid things that put us through internal turmoil and discomfort. 

Sexual pleasure is an inside job; experiment more. Only you can identify what feels good and what doesn’t. You have the right to choose a suitable partner to satisfy your urges. I encourage you to investigate some of the attitudes you have towards sex and get to the root of where you learned them. Unlearn the ones hindering your sexual pleasure and start developing the fulfilling sex life that you deserve. Trying to get orgasms is already hard enough without you overthinking things.

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