Sexism is stealing Ghanaian women’s orgasms in the following two ways. First, by attacking women for being sexual. Second, through a backward imagination of sex that causes your boyfriend to jam his penis into your unlubricated vagina repeatedly and overzealously, rabid rabbit style, until you begin quietly praying that this miserable experience masquerading as sex, is finally over. Sexual repression is the reason women having sex is viewed as a favor to men. Frankly, Ghanaian women deserve better. Yaa Asantewaa did not fight the British for Ghanaian women to suffer through unguided genital jabs, and sexist insults, such as “area hoe”, for daring to live a sexually fulfilled pleasurable life.
Sexist Cultural Myths
The gendered double standard that punishes women and praises men for engaging in sexual activity is a major factor in women’s inequitable social standing to men within society. Socially constructed cultural myths that seek to justify men’s sexual freedom and women’s sexual confinement obscure gender equality. The following paragraphs seek to interrogate these cultural myths that perpetuate men’s dominance within society through normalized sexist attitudes.
A. Being A Virgin Doesn’t Mean You’re “Good” It Only Means You’re Sexually Inexperienced
Sexist social standards often entangle women’s morality with the label of virginity. However, being a good person has little to do with one’s consensual sexual activity, and everything to do with how one treats other people. The understanding of “virginity” as anything other than sexual inexperience contributes to men’s sexual domination of women. The construct of virginity encourages women to refrain from sexual activity as a mechanism for maintaining moral worth. In a hierarchical sexist society, “virgins” are the purest and the most moral, while “hoes” are the filthiest and the least moral. The ridiculousness of utilizing sexual experience to gauge morality doesn’t just obscure the understanding of what it means to be good, it also encourages many women to lie. Women seduced by hormones and the powerful primate drive of sexuality create technicalities to maintain a “virgin” identity while still engaging in sexual activity.
Because sex is arbitrarily defined through heterosexual lens as penile-vaginal penetration, women globally engage in oral, anal, manual and digital sex while claiming to be virgins. Some women even go as far as hymen reconstruction surgery in a desperate attempt to cling on to worth by falling under the category of “virgins”.
In a sexist society that reduces cisgender women’s value as people to whether their vaginas have been penetrated, appearing to be a virgin is a necessary aspect of maintaining moral worth, avoiding ridicule, shame, and devaluation. Continually, women are casually demeaned by misguided misogynistic men and pathetic patriarchal princesses with seemingly infinite pejorative gendered attacks like “hoe”, “whore”, “ashawo”, “shashee”, “slut” etc.
Demeaned for what? Well it depends. Women can be demeaned for anything ranging from having political opinions, to making men mad, or having multiple partners, for having sex outside of marriage, or for talking about sex. Frankly it is for whatever arbitrary reason the person throwing the gendered insult decides.
The coupling of “purity” and high moral worth with the category of “virginity” for women serves to rob women of sexual exploration under the guise of helping women become good, upstanding, moral citizens. While men are free to pursue fulfilling human lives that consist of healthy sexual exploration, many women live sexually repressed lives filled with anxiety, shame, and self-hatred simply for deviating from the rules of the “virgin” construct and being a sexual human being.
B. Sex is Not Only When A Penis Enters A Vagina
Bill Clinton lied to you. Sex does not occur only when a penis enters a vagina. Sex consists of all sexual activity that brings a person sexual pleasure. Sex should not have a set, rigid, narrow, definition and its practice should depend entirely on what all the people involved consent to doing. The definition of sex as a penis entering a vagina obscures the non-reproductive reasons people engage in sex. The reason why your heterosexual boyfriend quickly rushes to ram his penis into your vagina is because society defines sex by what gives him the most pleasure. The tagging of penile-vaginal sex as “natural” ignores that as human we exist within the natural world, and thus everything that we do is part and parcel of what is natural.
It is a conception of sex that imagines all the amazing components: kissing, rubbing, fingering, flicking, licking as tangential and non-integral to “sex”. Imagining sex as only vaginal-penile penetration encourages men to rush through the other components to get to what they believe is the actual sex; often leaving women inadequately aroused and unsatisfied.
Heterosexual men more concerned about the feeling of conquest, their own pleasure and bragging rights are content with this paradigm of sex so they can tell their friends that they offered her a pounding she won’t forget.
It is homophobic, because it imagines sex as only when a cis man penetrates a cis woman vaginally. It is why we generally disregard lesbians engaging in sexual activity as “real sex”, and are disgusted and quick to label gay men’s sexual activity as “abnormal”.
In addition to a loss in reputation for having sex, women who sleep with men often suffer orgasm deficits. Despite the existence of the clitoris, a nerve rich part of the vagina that serves no other purpose but to provide vagina havers with leg-rippling, teeth-chattering orgasms, women who sex men are often left unsatisfied; partially because the conception of sex is heteronormative, and narrowly focuses on a penis entering a vagina. Sex should be viewed holistically, and should also include all activity that brings about sexual pleasure.
Sexist cultural myths in Ghana empower us to selectively demean, degrade, and devalue women for having sex, with gendered insults such as “whore”. To escape devaluation, sexist cultural myths encourage women to sexually repress themselves as a way to cling on to worth by maintaining a “virgin identity”. This virgin identity does not just describe sexual inexperience, it also erroneously couples moral worth with women’s sexual lives outside of marriage. The virgin identity also requires an understanding of sex as penile-vaginal penetration, which excludes other very pleasurable sexual acts, and centers heterosexual men’s pleasure.