Tickle your fancy and enjoy it

Taking control: Women need to learn that their role in sex need not be a passive one.

Taking control: Women need to learn that their role in sex need not be a passive one.


Winter is here and we all know the cold is the reason quite a number of babies are born in the subsequent autumn months.

But the world can be a lonely place and not everyone has someone to spoon. In this instance a good dose of self-love is recommended. This is, however, often not an option for many women who see this as something shameful.

Society is not big on masturbation and is especially tense about the thought of women doing it.

Not only is the world judging you but there is the small matter that Jesus may be watching you. When you mention masturbation at your next confessional you will be told to say “Hail Mary’s”. Standard.

A Zimbabwean female churchgoer was “cured of chronic masturbation” by Pastor Walter Magaya after engaging in the act four times a day. The idea was that the act of solo stroking was a cardinal sin and the demon of lust needed to go.

This form of policing female pleasure is rampant. There is even a Facebook group called Christians Against Addiction: women who masturbate are reprimanded and told that “the clitoris is the key to the devil, touch it and you unlock his door”.

It seems to boil down to the notion that a woman who enjoys sex must have some kind of demon residing in her loins, itching to get out. Sex and sexual pleasure are not often seen as part of the woman’s realm and it’s best to stick with child birth when they’re thinking of their lady parts.

This rhetoric means there are a good number of sexually frustrated women, who are not using the clitoris and its friends to their full potential.

Despite this seemingly widespread need, when speaking to women you discover these conversations are taboo, even among friends.

This cloak of silence, reprimands, lack of sexual education and shaming suffocates the notion of women’s sexual pleasure.

Notions behind masturbation are not only about the ability to wet the sheets but about ownership of one’s body. Having knowledge of your own body from an early age does not mean you will instantly run into the night to engage in an orgy – unless you discover this is your thing. More likely than not it will give you the ability to recognise and protect yourself from less than savoury situations.

When one thinks about sexual assault it does not just come down to a stranger pinning you down and forcing himself on you. It can come in a variety of subtle ways that women brush aside because of entrenched ideas of bodily ownership.

An incident that happened when I was younger had me questioning whether assault had actually occurred. At the time the naivety that I had about sex – well entrenched notions of being a “vessel from which to draw pleasure” – had me wondering if what had happened was really all that bad.

It most certainly was.

In hindsight I should have dragged him by the genitals to the police station and raised all hell.

But this 20/20 vision only comes now after knowing my body and the true logistics of sex, pleasure and consent.

This came after years of deep, insightful conversations with open and amazing women who were not scared to discuss these matters.

This resounding silence is baffling because, as Africans, we come from a rich sexual history.

  We come from a history that can still be traced to traditional practices, such as those of the East African ssengas (sex aunties) who teach about sexual pleasure and intimacy.

  We come from a history of the African erotic that celebrated the female sexual organ as an engulfing force rather than a passive recipient (see: osunality). There was an understanding that knowledge is power in sex, as is a partnership rather than domination.

Now we only want to talk about sex in a religious conservative context, framing it in the guise of marriage and procreation.

  Although there is nothing wrong with this, it precludes a whole host of aspects that are important in the act of coitus – and even in the religious. The Song of Psalms does not speak only of popping out the next generation. And the Kama Sutra is an actual religious text. Even within a religious context, pleasure is paramount.

So women should touch themselves. Mostly because, when you get it right, it feels incredible. As women we should know exactly what our bodies are about because it is only then can we truly know pleasure and engage with sex.

And we should do it understanding that our role in the sexual experience is not a passive one because, yes, our body can and should feel like that when we have sex.

And when it does not, there is a problem for everyone involved.

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

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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