Editorial: Are they lesbianing together? Or Identifying a gay woman in five easy steps or An Idiot’s Guide to Recognizing Lesbians or Gender Expression or As you Like it!

Editorial: Are they lesbianing together? Or Identifying a gay woman in five easy steps or An Idiot’s Guide to Recognizing Lesbians or Gender Expression or As you Like it!

Sorry about the several titles of this piece, it was done this way because we understand Nigerians aversion to sarcasm, some people claim Nigerians do not understand sarcasm, but we beg to differ, we believe that Nigerians do understand sarcasm, they just prefer things to be explained PROPERLY to them. And that’s exactly what we have done with the titles EXPLAINED everything so you can be in no doubt of what this article is about.

Before we go totally off point, we wish to redirect you to the title, why would you be wasting your precious time here if not for the fact that you saw the word lesbian in the headline and you’ve always wondered what they do, who are these women? Are there women who actually prefer sleeping with other women when preeks abound? Or is lesbianism a myth, like … like dragons andexpression unicorns, and Kashamu and Mama P and Abacha and fuel scarcity … going off point again, sorry … we wish to reassure you that you should search no further, we shall address all your concerns and answer all your questions, and… deliver you from the spirit of ‘gbeborun’ aka minding other people’s business.

Internet Lesbians: WE ALL KNOW THESE WOMEN! They are all over the internet, Nigerian women o! Not oyinbo women! They are always talking about their love for other women! On twitter they are called Nigerian Association of Twitter Lesbians. We all know that these women are only pretending, because the only reason a person will claim to be a lesbian is so that they can attract attention, yes and the only people whose attentions are worth attracting … men! Don’t you see the sense in that? A woman would claim to love other women so she can get men’s attention … okay maybe it doesn’t make sense but hey we are Nigerians and we don’t need to think about things, we just KNOW these things. Just as we know that all of them are going to hell! Yes! Just go and check Leviticus, you will see there what the bible and Paul and a lot of other people say about lesbians! Have we been to hell before? No, but Jesus, okay not Jesus, our pastor told us that it is written in the bible that all the lesbians shall go to hell. The bible approves of slavery too and said we should not wear certain clothes and said a lot of things, but we sha know that they will all go to hell.

Feminists: Now we all know that Feminists are generally ugly women who cannot get men, even the fine ones amongst them can never find husband because their mouth is too sharp, always putting their mouth in things that don’t concine them so that they can ‘look’ intelligent, I wonder who they are trying to impress sef! Always screaming about the partriarchy, and glass ceilings, and violence against women and how the system has been set up to put women at a disadvantage, and education and equal rights and justice! Seriously, these women need to get preeks. Their problem is that because no man in his right mind would want to talk to, talk less of sleep with a woman who calls herself a feminist, what else can they do but help themselves? They all pretend to be lesbians because it is not good for feminists to like men. Feminists hate men. How do we know they are lesbians and they hate men? Because that’s what feminism means – women who hate men! What about men who claim to be feminists are they lesbians too? Yes! No! Emm … brb with the answer… we know the answer because we KNOW ALL THINGS THROUGH JESUS CHRIST THAT … emm, wait we’ll get back to you after asking our pastor.

Sluts aka Ashawo: Those ones, everybody knows that they are harlots (that word is in the bible and the Quran too), they will sleep with anything in trousers, even women who are wearing trousers. Their problem is that they are something called nymphomaniacs and those ones like sex too much. Nobody needs to tell you about sluts, you can see it, they are the kind of women who go around wearing clothes that reveal their breasts and yansh. They will be walking up and down the road, looking one kind at all the men, calling them with ‘come and do’ eyes. So anytime there is no man on the road, they kuku go for women, they will sleep with anything and anybody. What about men who sleep around? It is the natural order of things, men are creatures of nature, and nature says that a man has to sleep around, they just can’t help it. Men are different from women, so women should not be going around claiming rights and saying things like what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Those ones will now not find husband and then they will be going up and down different churches, going for deliverance. But are they really lesbians? No, they are just … umm … sluts, there are no real lesbians, just unicorns, and dragons, and Ojuju Calabar and witches in the village and Obasanjo and Goodluck!

Women who go to joints – let’s just be clear about one thing, it’s not that all women who go to drinking joints or like watching football are lesbians, it’s those ones that go without the sanity inspiring, big muscled, strong and intelligent men. You will always find them in bars, about three or four or more girls, seated at a table, drinking beer! The worst thing is that even if a man offers to buy them a drink they will turn it down and if any man wants to join them at a table, they will say no! It is a terrible thing these girls do all the time… what about men who go out in groups and drink at joints without female company, are they gay too? We don’t know o! But women who go out in groups must be lesbians, or feminists and as we all know ALL FEMINISTS ARE LESBIANS including men who are feminists … wait, that doesn’t even make any sense, but we’ve said it, because …we are Nigerians, so there!

Footballers: We are not talking about professional footballers here, we are talking about girls that look like boys, you know those girls we bully on the road by stopping them and asking if they are boys or girls … they sag their jeans, walk like men, wear baggy t-shirts, face-caps and all… they must be lesbians! And because we know that a REAL man will never want to date someone that looks like him, they will have no toasters, and then they will have no choice but to call themselves lesbians! There is something called testosterone that is found to varying degrees in both men and women, just like there is something called estrogen found to varying degrees in both male and female, these hormones determine, to a large extent, how we express ourselves as human and sexual beings, but don’t worry your head about big-big grammar, I mean what’s so important about all those things? What matters the most is that men are men, women are women and we have the right to determine who is male or female … by the way they are dressed, like the bible says, by their dressing you shall know them … we are not so sure the bible said that o, but then we have heard it said before or why else would we go about judging people because of the way they are dressed, like a pastor once said, the way you dress is the way you’ll be addressed! So if you dress like a boy, you will be addressed like a boy or something of that nature sha!

With the above we hope we’ve been able to satisfy your curiousity and put all your questions to rest, you can now go around judging and labeling people even better than you used to do before, because everything you read on the internet is true and what other people do in their bedrooms is very important to you, maybe this knowledge will even help you to get the miracle you’ve been seeking all these years! Especially the miracle of money dropping on your head, the miracle of the kind of money you didn’t work for. And then you will go to heaven … didn’t Jesus say something like ‘thou shalt not judge so that thou shalt not be judged’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself’? We can’t say for sure because our pastor does not read that part of the bible often, but we will go and ask him.

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Sex and Sexuality: The Missing Historical Link by Eccentric Yoruba

Sex and Sexuality: The Missing Historical Link by Eccentric Yoruba

We know so little about how our ancestors viewed sex and sexuality, it is high time we delved into this much overlooked part of our history. However before we do we may have to dump some of our biases.

It never fails to shock me just how much we modern-day Africans deny the most basic things to those that came before us. Perhaps it is a legacy of (mental) colonialism that a lot of us view our ancestors as backwards, uncivilised, naïve, even depraved. There are those among us who believe that our foremothers never knew emotions such as love or lust, and to take it further that they would never have considered any form of sexuality that was not of the vanilla, hetero variety. Several years ago I came across a comment someone left on a blog I frequent, while I do not recall the exact words used in the comment I remember it went along the lines of “no one in pre-colonial Africa fell in love, all women were forced to marry old men who already had many wives”. Looking back, that may have been a troll comment but it spurred me to write this post on African initiation rites.

9jafeminista
9jafeminista

Initiation rites are very fascinating to me, their existence illustrates how societies that do not discuss sex in the open find avenues to impart sexual knowledge to young adolescents. They also show that for a good number of our foremothers, not only in Nigeria but across Africa sex was something enjoyable. Young girls would learn many things during initiation rites, how to take care of themselves for example, as well as what was expected of them when they became wives. This education covered anything from using aphrodisiacs, knowing erogenous zones and rhythmic pelvic moments. Through songs and dances this form of sexual knowledge was transmitted to young girls who would grow up to become women that were sexually confident. Nkiru Nzegwu is much cited in her creation of the term Osunality, she uses the multi-faceted Orisha Osun to symbolise the sexuality of Yoruba women that also appears in countless other African cultures (also posits that in several African cultures the power does not rest in the penis but instead in the vagina).

I was (still am) excited that African authors are writing historical romances. We have writers like Naa Shalman and closer to home Kiru Taye writing love stories set in the past that feature passionate love scenes. I know there are those who will be surprised to see kissing and oral sex in a piece of Nigerian historical fiction and will label it ahistorical. At the same time I wonder, is it so impossible to imagine that sexual acts like oral sex was something that was done before the Europeans appeared to teach us everything? Widening this perspective why would we assume that “alternative sexualities” are a Western import. A friend of mine would vehemently argue that traditional practices such as massages and certain dances could have provided the prelude for women to explore sex with other women. In situations were women constantly came in contact with their peers and touched each other, she claimed, it is not too farfetched that some could have chosen to explore these avenues more.

Something that has always struck me when I read works by Nigerian scholars such as Ifi Amadiume and Oyeronke Oyewumi kehindeawofesochallenging the ways in which our ideas on gender have been affected by colonialism, is why there still seems to be so much unwillingness to do the same for sexuality. In her book Male Daughters Female Husbands, Amadiume provides an amazing insight into the gender ideology of the Nnobi. Through her book we are able to know that there was a time when gender in that part of Eastern Nigeria was not fixed as simply “male” and “female”. There was no gender binary as it was understood to be something more flexible, this was/is a society where women could marry other women and perform “male” gendered mannerisms, and daughters could become sons. Oyeronke Oyewumi’s controversial The Invention of Women: Making an African Sense of Western Gender Discourses looks at the Yoruba example and puts forth the argument that Yoruba also did not place as much importance on a gender binary prior to European contact.

 What surprises me is how we can be open about examining gender in our pre-colonial pasts but cannot about sexuality. Both Oyewumi and Amadiume seem to be of the opinion that homosexuality did not exist in the societies they research on, that it is a foreign concept to Africa. I always agree that Western ideas on same-sex relationships should not be imposed on African cultures, but to me the possibilities are endless. While the research is scanty on this side of the pond, studies into women-loving-women in the African Diaspora have been quite revealing as to the African connection. Gloria Wekker in The Politics of Passion argues that mati, that is put simply women who have sex and form relationships with other women in Afro-Surinamese culture, is linked to West African cultural heritage. For women of African descent in Suriname who engage in the mati work sexual activity and fulfilment is more significant that the sex of one’s sexual counterpart. Rather than being an identity, the mati work is versatile and fluid even as it may recognise he presence of a masculine spirit for lack of a better term in women who love to lie down with other women.

Sexualities similar to the mati work have been recorded throughout the African Diaspora, yet they are so few when it comes to the continent. Could our biases be blinding us to the diversity of sexualities in our pre-colonial traditions? My proposal is that we rethink the way our foremothers viewed sexuality and sex. That we open our minds to the possible realities that may not fit into our impressions of how the past was.