Invite his penis in? Seriously?

Penis ennui: Norman Catherine's 2001 bronze Déjà Vu. Glossy women's magazines are obsessed with phallic pleasure. (Oupa Nkosi)

Penis ennui: Norman Catherine's 2001 bronze Déjà Vu. Glossy women's magazines are obsessed with phallic pleasure. (Oupa Nkosi)

If you’re having a party in your panties, please invite the penis. My vagina is a playground for men.

This is the impression of sex I have gleaned from women’s magazines. The idea seems to be that I am not so much a participant as a spectator – or, to put it more specifically, I am the location for good times.

Spending extended periods of time in supermarket queues, I have learned the art of “reading” whole magazines through their covers and have started to realise that the way men’s and women’s magazines give advice differs in many ways.

Women are taught to be thin sex drones. Men are taught to get abs and dress like Justin Timberlake.

Under the façade of teaching us to embrace our sexuality and our independence, women’s magazines often pay us a compliment (you are beautiful in all your naturalness) while hitting us across the face with an insult (seven ways to squat while at the office – where everyone hates you for being a woman – because your ass needs it).

Adverts for Herbex and pages of pale, skinny, doe-eyed women are coupled with articles about how “you are so awesome because it’s 2014!” And we shall not even tackle the issue that the people in the magazines all look like Scandinavian descendants, even though we’re sitting in Africa.

The content is often less “fun, fearless female” and more “neurotic, scared, trouserless social pariah”.

Truth be told, there is no money in empowered women. This is evident in the sex advice that is dished out, and as women we remain on our knees. According to the average women’s magazine, we are all having atrocious sex, but there is hope. But the advice is repetitive at best and disturbing at worst.

From “Top 10 tips for helping a small penis” and “Top 10 tricks for giving head” to “Have the most OH WOW! orgasm ever”, the focus is always on one thing: the penis. It has reached the point where a great deal of slam poetry has been written about it and even men are complaining about it.

One need only google stories about how sex tips from certain women’s magazines can put your man in hospital to see the Cirque du Soleil performance we are supposed to showcase.

But outside the logistics there is one gaping hole: the advice never really focuses on the vagina. The idea that is peddled is: “I must become an erotic queen in order to make others feel good.” There have been some real gems emanating from the pages of these magazines, such as “invite his penis in”. Invite it into where? Is it a VIP? Should we organise parking as well while we are at it?

“Hum while you are going ‘downtown’” is another. First I must wander down into the abyss and, in addition, I must construct a tune? This seems rather a lot to ask of one person at any given time. “Grab it like you are milking a cow,” the magazines say. I left the farm just before high school, thank you very much.

“Botox or vajazzle your vagina.” It is not an ornament. Furthermore, as it is, it goes through enough once a month with tampons. “Sprinkle a little pepper under his nose just before he climaxes.” If you want more seasoning, call a waiter. If you want a girlfriend, then maybe we can talk.

Very little of the advice invites him to become a bucking bronco in your personal rodeo. Women are still not at the centre of the sexual act, despite the magazines being aimed at them. Much as these pieces of advice are meant to help, there must be balance.

Maybe this is the fault of men’s magazines for not stepping up. I actually saw one article stating glibly that “she only expects about one orgasm from you once every few weeks, but maybe you should try. Here is how.”

But despite this one, possibly lone attempt at giving advice, where is the wisdom that says to women: “When he walks in, make sure he is covered in cream and other carbs-based substances for your personal enjoyment” or “Ten tunes he can harmonise to while buried between your thighs”?

If the women’s magazines do not do it, then who will? Men’s magazines cannot be burdened with this as men are too busy having all sorts of (possibly illegal) things being done to them at the behest of women’s publications.

So, not only are our magazines geared to making the average woman in the region feel insecure about her weight, height or skin colour,  we are also being taught bad sex. There needs to be some sort of commission of inquiry looking into this. The tyranny cannot continue.

Kagure Mugo is the co-founder and full-time curator of HOLAAfrica!

Kagure Mugo

Kagure Mugo

Kagure Mugo is the intoxicatingly scary gatekeeper of HOLAAfrica, an online pan-African queer womanist community dealing with sexuality and all things woman. She is also a writer and freelance journalist who tackles sex, politics and other less interesting topics. During weekends she is a wine bar philosopher and polymath for no pay. Read more from Kagure Mugo


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