Written by Adwoa Supi
This is a personal statement of a young Ghanaian woman who was ashamed of her femininity because of the misogynistic environment she grew up in, and thus protested against her body for it. As she grew in acceptance of her womanhood, she discovered and accepted her pansexuality.
This account begins in the name of misogyny internalised, and of hating oneself, and of unholy sexual attractions, Amen.
“How could a whole God be a girl, something as lowly as a woman?” I plagued myself with this question a lot when I was a child. There was a song I loved to listen to, God is a Girl. I’d hold solo jam sessions to it when I was home alone, but when people were around, I’d play it in hiding. I felt a shame ever so intense for loving it, wanting to believe it, because how dare I think of a woman as anything so great?
I hated being a girl. Socialized in an environment where the concepts of hegemonic femininity (submissiveness, dressing ‘like a lady,’ being able to cook, etc.) were the norm, I had constant reminders from family that I was not ‘girl’ enough, or ‘woman’ enough.
We’ll turn to Adolescence Chapter Nine, verse why are you walking like that, are you a boy?
Sit like this
Don’t talk like that
Why are you wearing that?
Where is your bra?
What do you mean you don’t like ab?nkwan so you won’t learn how to cook it?
So if your husband says he wants ab?nkwan, what will you do?
The idea of a woman sold to me was unattractive to me. If being a girl or woman meant being regarded as weak or unintelligent, having little autonomy over my body and choices, being cut off from certain opportunities, being viewed as a lesser human just because, then I wanted nothing to do with it. So I staged protests against my own body.
Let’s turn to Adolescence Chapter Twelve, verse when you start getting your period
Your mum speaks in hush hush tones about it
Makes you think it’s something to be ashamed of
She hands you pads
You take them and throw them in the back of your wardrobe
Put your panties on and go to school
“Is that sobolo on your dress?”
“Huh?” You turn to the boy
“Your dress. The red stains”
You shrug and walk outside
More people turn to look at you
But you don’t care
This is your protest against womanhood for doing this to you
Your friend calls you aside
Offers to take you to the bathroom and help you clean up
She does not speak in hush hush tones
Me and my mother, we never talked about sex. At least not properly. The few things she did say were only along the lines of sin, rape (dressing ‘decently’ so I don’t tempt someone to rape me, that is), and virginity being the most sacred thing about a woman. I was fascinated by the mystery around sex, and given that nobody would tell me much, I set out to find my own answers. I plunged myself into the many shapes and faces of sex at a young age; the bad and ugly for starters. The good did not come until many years later.
Chapter Nine, verse what’s the name of that app again?
Day eighty-five of sexting strangers on the app
Pedophiles, boys, black, white, brown
You binge pornography
Masturbate to the point of addiction
How old are you? Nine?
You walk into the ICT lab every break time
Your feet with a mind of their own
He touches you, the teacher
You get into trouble with the principal later
Not because of the teacher
But because of that game you lured your friend into
Your heads on your school desks, your hands underneath
I carried my guilt around my neck like a slave’s collar, each spike digging deeper with every act. I had nobody to turn to, to talk to. Every time something bad happened in my family, I knew it just had to be because of me. I went to several Christian camps, praying the urges away, begging God not to kill me off for my raging curiosities. The days in-between, I’d pick up my phone and open the app.
I used to walk home from primary school with a group of friends. We’d talk about our favorite telenovela scenes, acting them out and goofing about. I’d usually offer to act as one of the main male characters, choosing a particular girl to be my partner. With the rest of the group watching, we’d kiss passionately like we’d seen in the shows. I began inviting her over to my house to make out. I had no idea what being queer was, and I never questioned myself either. I simply thought that it made sense that I liked her because I was not ‘girl enough’ anyway.
In high school, I fell in love with a senior girl, despite having a long distance boyfriend. It might have been the deepest affection I’d ever felt for someone back then. We never validated our relationship, although we both knew that it was something more than friendship. After she graduated, I had similar relationships with other girls at school, yet in each of those, we never once clearly talked about our feelings.
I convinced myself I wasn’t queer for most of my life. Being in a heterosexual relationship that lasted throughout high school and the first year of university, I was able to easily evade questioning my sexuality. Any time people asked (which they did, a lot), I simply said, “Oh, I just haven’t had that conversation with myself yet. I haven’t really explored it to be sure.” It seemed obvious to everyone but myself.
Pretense was an apt defense mechanism I grew up learning. Like an ostrich. It was only so long until I accepted that pretending something isn’t there doesn’t mean it isn’t. Coming out to myself was difficult. It made everything from my past make sense, and that only scared me more.
We’ll read Adulthood Chapter Eighteen, verse are you gay?
But you like men too, so what does that mean?
Or do you really like men?
What if you thought you did but you don’t?
Are you a lesbian and you don’t know it?
You like people of other genders too
Are you just confused?
Do you really like women?
Are you bisexual?
Are you okay?
Are you not Christian?
Will God not punish you?
Accepting myself has been a gradual process for me; exhilarating in one moment, torturous in another. Over time, I’m watching myself grow through nurturing a meaningful, loving relationship with my partner, forming friendships in the Ghanaian queer community, and opening myself up to experiences of learning and unlearning.
We’ll end with Adulthood Chapter Twenty Two, verse na gay dey reign
You don’t speak with hush hush tones about your body anymore
You know you love the women
The people in-between
That sex is not a sin onto your body
But a tribute of worship onto yourself
You know you’re woman enough
This account comes to a close in the name of acceptance, and of queer love, and of heavenly queer sex. Amen.