AFRIKAN WOMAN AND THE ESSENCE OF SEXUALITY

Greetings and blessings to everyone reading this blog. This is the second blog discussion in the “Our Afrikan Heritage” magazine’s series on sexual education.

In our first discussion we took a look at the “orgasm”. The question was posed, “Do women in the West place too much emphasis on the orgasm”?  What we started to get was a sense that we have strayed from the deeper spiritual connection of the sexual experience to a purely physical carnal act. The question is now asked, “How did we get here?”

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To even begin to answer this question we have to look at what we consider to be our sexuality, its origin, influences and usages.

Before we go any further, let us stop for one second and define sexuality. Most places of reference that I have researched for this blog give sexuality three main constructs:

  1. The condition of being characterised and distinguished by sex.
  2. Concern with or interest in sexual activity.
  3. Sexual character or potency.

Keeping these three definitions in mind we can begin to look at how sexuality has crashed into our heritage and culture as Afrikan people. In the first definition of sexuality, it is said that it is the condition of being characterised and distinguished by sex. How do we define our characters? Characters are defined by action, which in turn is the manifestation of our thought process. Therefore, it would stand to reason that sexuality is nothing more than a state of mind. So where do our thought processes at this time originate? Are they originating from ourselves as a cultured race of people or are they learned thought processes influenced by Eurocentric cultures, philosophies and value systems?

We can ask the question “Is nakedness part and parcel of what we deem as our sexuality and sexual expression?” Most women in the West would say yes, nakedness is an expression of our sexuality. I have heard the argument made that in Afrika many tribeswomen go bare breasted and actually wear very little, so the mode of dress worn by certain women in expression of their sexuality is therefore justified. I agree that there are many tribes in which the women wear little clothing, but it must also be noted that in those communities the men are in no way moved by the nudity of the women in the village. Thus the conclusion can be made that nudity is not an expression of original Afrikan sexuality.

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Makeup and outward adornments on the other hand were always an expression of our sexuality. The way a woman’s hair was styled spoke to her sexuality, her scars/tattoos, the type of beads she wore and her dance were among her authentic expressions of her sexuality. Also note that the makeup worn was interwoven into her stage of life as a woman and not because of dissatisfaction with her natural appearance.

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Concern with or interest in sexual activity is the next definition of sexuality we shall peruse. It was interesting to note from the previous blog that Afrikan women were not very open to talking about their sexual experiences. This is a stark contradiction to western attitudes where sex is spoken about freely.  Not only is it a topic that is freely discussed and promoted, it has become an act of conquest rather than sacredness between man and woman. Sex has become more a question of what I can get out of the act rather than what I can share. When the act then becomes a matter of selfish conquest, the gateways to sexual perversions are then opened. There is no sacredness in perversions.

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Finally “our sexual character and its potency” basically speak to our sexual expressions and their effects. Given that character is manifested in action, how we act regarding our sexual expressions defines our sexual character. The potency of your sexual character is then calculated by the power of the attraction caused.

I ran a small experiment in which I observed the potency of the sexual character. I placed myself among a group of about a dozen men who had a direct view of a roadside in the heart of Bridgetown (the capital city of Barbados). The group of men was busy engaging in various activities. Some played dominoes, others backgammon and the rest talking and listening to music. Every so often, a woman passing would attract the attention of one man in the group that happened to be looking in that direction at the time. This led to a statement on the physical appearance of the woman and her style of dress, which in turn caused all activity to stop with attention now being placed on the passing woman. A sort of sexual frenzy ensued as the brothers called out to the woman paying all sorts of compliments to her dress, lined with heavy sexual undertones. As she disappeared into the distance and the various activities resumed, it was now laden with the residual sexual energy that was left by the passing woman.

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The conversation for a few moments was now directed towards what they would do with the woman if given a chance in terms of sharing sexual experience and reminiscing on her attire and how good she looked. The more moderate in dress did not receive the sexual attention that the more daring in nakedness got. It was interesting to see that an attraction also came from some women who were more modest in dress, came along the line of “that is a real queen; that is how a woman should look; I just love how that woman looks” and various others comments that were much more respectful than those attained by the other women. This then is the potency of your sexual character manifested in one way.

Due to the mere fact that energy attracts and repels, one must be aware of what we attract, the responsibilities of what we attract and the consequences thereof. Are we mere sexual beings?

Please leave comments so we can develop a healthy conversation geared towards a deeper sexual educational program in schools in Barbados. We want to have this conversation with youth  15 and up. This program will commence in the upcoming new school term.

Our Afrikan Heritage magazine thanks you for your participation in this discussion.

This article has 10 Comments

  1. This is an interesting read. Most interesting was the comment that nudity was not an expression of African sexuality, but the beads, scars / tattoos and hairstyle were.

    The sexual potency experiment was also interesting, as was the concept of sexual character.

    What then should an Afrikan focus be on in our schools? Cultivating a respectful sexual character and understanding the power of sexual potency – understanding the power of sexual energy and how it can be used, both positively and negatively.

  2. Very interesting, I quite agree, and do support this teaching, our children needs to know that their are so much more than a piece of meat, a virtuous woman her price is worth far more than rubies.

  3. Give thanks for the responses thus far. The thinking behind these blogs rest on the perspective that sexual education should go beyond disease and pregnancy prevention.

  4. This is a very interesting article which seems to be part of an attempt to initiate and keep going sustained conversations on sexuality in Barbados, here in Trinidad and Tobago, and I hope the wider Caribbean. Far too much ignorance abounds and that is linked to the sexual violence and unsafe behaviours that many Caribbean societies are now facing. We NEED to keep this going so as to enlighten the people in our communities.

    A few observations, I couldn’t help but wonder, based on the way certain statements and questions were posed, what are some of the (un)conscious perceptions even of the questioner. How indeed “has sex crashed into our heritage and culture as Afrikan people”? Did it “crash” at all? And regarding the origins of the thought processes we have “at this time” and whether it was from a cultured group of people or Eurocentric conditioning, who is to say it wasn’t a combination of the two?

    The Caribbean is a very interesting place; a region where the raw sexual energy of precolonial Africa and Asia (India) with the conservatism of Victorian Europe mixing together and constantly clashing with each other. Africa has its own sexual conservatism but by and large sexuality and sensual pleasures were interwoven in the social living of most precolonial African cultures. Some scholars go so far to point out that it is one of the foundations of religious beliefs including the anti-sexual Christianity (and I’ll willingly debate and defeat anyone who says it is not) and the Islam that was hijacked by the mullahs. How ironic when one considers, as was written in the article, that now European and Euro-Americans are more open and freer talking about sex now than our women (and men).

    This comes largely from the residual Victorian era education and socialisation in our respective societies along with an instinctive desire by many Afri-Caribbean women especially, to *not* be seen to conform to the racist stereotypes of the exotic black body and the hyper-sexual African. Additionally, in Eurocentric culture – patriarchal cultures in general – sex *is* seen as a contest and an expression of masculine power.

    Further, the sacredness of sex and eroticism is very paradoxical in our Eurocentrically-ordered societies. Sex, being a part of life in traditional African societies, also featured in sacred rituals (Carnival, for instance, originated as a spring solstice fertility rite in ancient Egypt and diffused to Rome via Greece). Similar sacred sexual rituals were found all along the ancient Mediterranean. Paradoxically, in Christian Europe, when sex is referred to as “sacred” – and even that is only in relatively recent times – the word sacred as a euphemism for “hidden away” because since the rise of Christianity sex was always seen as dirty, polluting and corrupting. It’s a misogynist, paranoiac attitude that Christianity inherited and expanded on from Greece and Rome.

    So I hope indeed more work is done, more conversations are had and aimed at the children. Like Barbados we in T&T intend to embark on a more comprehensive sexual health and relationship programme and by all indications the religious leaders already have hijacked it and it may very well be stillborn. So we really need to put the information out there. I’ll bookmark this homepage. Feel free to visit my webpage on Trinicenter.com; I have several articles and essays going into detail with the origin of our sexual mores and other aspects of sexuality.

  5. I was most pleased to see the feedback given by brother Corey in particular as it gives me chance to delve deeper into the essence of the blog post.

    First let me address what I mean by sex crashing into our culture and heritage. What I am saying is the the preoccupation with sex and sexuality that we are now bombarded with is staggering. So much so that our women are now objectified and valued only on a sexual level. I know the essence of the Afrikan woman the goddess has much more value than that of her sexual prowess. At present many of our sisters are comfortable with being assessed merely on their sexuality. This is the norm today and I would say part of our culture now. I have seen a recent trend even in our soca sounds/ sounds of our carnivals to reduce the woman to a fun object while undermining the essence and value of relationships, marriage and family. We have one song in particular in Barbados the places the woman in the bracket of a “Fun Friend”. So this woman is really only good enough to party with, have sex and a so called good time. The song goes on to say it has to be kept secret as the woman was in a relationship with another person. Our society loves that song. So I ask the question, is the Afrikan woman or any woman a mere sexual tool? This is not an Afrikan retention, so where did it come from?

    Being that little is taught of the essence of our beings as Afrikan outside of a little history, I would have to say the two most influential factors that affects our thinking today would be our plantation life experience mixed with assimilated Eurocentric cultures and conditioning.

    You would have to define for us what you term, the raw Afrikan sexual energy of precolonial Afrika. I do agree that sex and sexuality was interwoven into these earlier society and as such was not something that was given extra energy and attention to as is manifested today.

    I agree would say however that our culture at present lends to the stereotyping and sexual exploitation of our women and our men as well. I am seeing that our carnivals provide a great platform for this fantasizing of the exotic black body to be manifested. It keeps the stereotype alive, in fact it feeds it to a great extent. However it brings in major revenue for the island so then it is overlooked. What does that make us and if so is the government our pimp? Our carnivals are basically one big semi street orgy fueled my music. The natural sexual of Afrikan expressed in dance as stated in the previous blog in this series, is now perverted to add to our national orgies. Again I cannot juxtapose ancient rituals such as fertility rites and the celebrations of the different solstice to our present carnivals. I say this based on the simple reason that ignorance bombards our festivals and really they have little meaning at this time. The mere fact that we regarded certain practices and festivals as sacred would mean that a high level of knowledge and understanding had to be applied to the activity that was about to happen. Do we here understand sexual energy, its uses, misuses and consequences? In Barbados they would call that ” monkey handling gun” In an upcoming blog in this series we will look at sexual magic and alchemy. This will give us another idea of sexual potency. Our ancient communities ran on knowledge, it uses and the maturity to deal with it. As you would well be aware the eligibility to the exposure to certain knowledge was done through our rites of passages.

    I will not even touch on the area of modern perverted religion and sex. The inability of modern religions to deal with or enlighten the masses on self while focusing on an external salvation has left our people in the wilderness not knowing much of themselves. Laws are only placed to control by force. Thus sexual laws placed by religions are again set to control by force. In his case, dividing oneself from self enabling them to capture or as they say, win souls.
    I give much thanks again for you sharing with us. I visited your site and will have to spend some time going through the info presented. Could you however direct me to one or a couple articles you have on related subject matter? Maybe we can work more closely together to help with making this a national conversation within the Caribbean youth.
    As stated I am going to turn this blog series into the foundation of a national school educational activity. Possibly an inter school debate on sex and sexuality. With enough work we can take this debate throughout schools in the Caribbean.
    I am looking forward to your response and I do hope you share this blog with your readership and such enhance the foundation for a greater conversation.

  6. Sexuality. Is it something we can really define, though? Or define accurately? I’m aware of my own sexuality, but not as a stand alone feature of myself. It finds expression in everything I do. It’s also a feature of my self awareness. I’m an ‘older’ woman, and find that my idea of myself as a sexual being has become more refined with the years. There is a whole unspoken multi faceted message I give off, and sexuality is a part of it. A lot of the unspoken message is about respect, starting from my own respect for who I am, for everything I’ve experienced that make me what I am. Though it’s an unspoken message, others get it. This means that I can pretty much set the terms upon which people – particularly men – deal with me, and I don’t have to try to do this, it just happens. This is not very easy to articulate. I have to think about it, and I don’t usually. You’ve given me something to think about. Maybe as I continue to think about it, I’ll write some more.

  7. Indeed how one feels about onesselfwill determine how one relates to sex. To know that it is a powerful energy which must not be abused is very important. However in this perverted society with rape and insest buggery and child pornography, how is a young adult really suppose to feel.loving oneself enables one to love another. Acceptance and respect of ones body is essential not seeking pleasure but rather sharing comfort and care.if we can replace carnal thinking with enlightened and wholesome thoughts maybe we can begin to respect sex and our sexualitynot as a mere pleasure providerrather as a sacred aspect of our lives.

  8. Thank you for allowing me the space to offer my opinion on this topic.

    I too, for the proverbial record, share the view that there is a preoccupation with sex and sexuality and that we are bombarded with all sorts of messages and images capitalising on sexuality, especially female sexuality. Further, a lot of that sexuality indeed objectifies the black body which many of us buy into. That, however, is not necessarily a problem; some of that objectification stems from age-old conscious and unconscious racist ideas about non-European sexuality – the same assimilated Eurocentric cultures and conditioning you correctly identified. However, some also are logical results of a culture that represses the erotic and the sensual in all peoples under its cultural fold. When that happens some of those people eventually push back against that restraint, hence the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the Miley Cyruses of this era (not how she tapped into the sexual culture of the African inasmuch as it is sorely lacking in her own). The problem here is that too often the same countering of the repressed culture is selectively co-opted by those who profit mainstream culture and they cater to the basest aspects of the counterculture to the point that the sting the effectiveness and the message is lost.

    I want to tie that into Trinidad Carnival and the carnivals of other countries. Now the sexual aspect was always there. Period. From its very beginning thousands of years ago along the ancient Nile Valley carnival, which began as a fertility festival of the spring solstice, celebrated fecundity. All this you already know. It became carnival inn one aspect and Easter in another. In post-Emancipation Trinidad letters to the editor of newspapers poured shame on the lascivious conduct of lower class “negroes and negresses” dancing in ways that are utterly tame compared to today. Oh and although we’ll agree AND yet disagree that although there is disconnect between the fertility rites of 4000 years ago and the orgiastic abandon of today, the disconnect is not necessarily as absolute and complete as people may think.

    Anyway, although I have no problem whatsoever with seeing a naked woman, even in and eroticism nudity that can be art or a profound statement. The skimpiness in the Mas today came out of the demands of women who insisted on having less and less clothing restricting them in the one time of the year where they were not being sexually fettered. This was around the same time that they were asserting themselves in and through the Women’s Lib movement and had made a number of advances. But that has been co-opted by bandleaders who knew and cared nothing about the history of the Mas and only saw the bottom line. Now it’s just the basest aspect, a Las Vegas showgirl imitation that says nothing. The same can be said for some of the soca and dancehall selections although that is much more open to interpretation and in any case is slowly changing.

    Essentially, a lot of what you are referring to come from a systematic pushback against institutions and ideas that were rigid, constricting and downright oppressive because the wider culture functioned that way. The problem is that without a sound understanding of the alternative models, the pushback is just as damaging. Marriage and the family, for instance has been rigidly defined especially as it pertains to women’s roles and functions in them. There have been all forms of marriage in all human societies but the ethnocentric ethic of European/Euro-American ideology only recognises essentially one form: the nuclear, monogamous model headed by a man, the patriarch, whose authority is absolute. This was especially the idea drilled home in 19th century colonial education and it reasserted itself as the model after World War 1 and 2 and with the breaking up of the colonies.

    Likewise the issue of monogamy in sexual interactions. I’ve written all sorts of stuff on this and I’m not sure if to go into it again as I’m always told my posts are too long, lol. Suffice it to say that what I am trying to help bring about with my writings is not a discarding of marriage and the family but the narrow, one-dimensional way in which marriage, the family and especially sexuality in that context is defined. And I’m not so much referring to the current “hot” topic of LGBT rights; I am referring to the same straight, heterosexual interactions that we like to think is clearly defined (it is not, far from it). Human beings are very diverse, but the patricentric/patriarchal neo-colonial society we were all brought up in is informed by cultural ideas that do *not* encourage or support such diversity. There is not one shred of evidence that humans are naturally monogamous – in fact in human social history we have been non-monogamous for much longer than we have been and such a mindset was imposed for reasons that had nothing to do with any god or respect for women or family but was about property rights and to calm certain psychological insecurities. But that will have to be explored in detail another time.

    And as we on that, yes, we do have a lot more to talk about and I hope we do. Below are some of the relevant links to articles I have written on the subject. I’ve put them here from the most recent to the older ones. Feel free to critique

    http://www.trinicenter.com/Gilkes/2014/0904.htm
    http://www.trinicenter.com/Gilkes/2014/0601.htm
    http://www.trinicenter.com/Gilkes/2013/3005.htm
    http://www.trinicenter.com/Gilkes/2013/0403.htm
    http://www.trinicenter.com/Gilkes/2011/2803.htm
    http://www.trinicenter.com/Gilkes/2011/0902.htm
    http://www.trinicenter.com/Gilkes/2010/1706.htm
    http://www.trinicenter.com/Gilkes/2010/1504.htm

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