Women’s month is here and a whole host of entities from TV shows to tires are about to slide into our lives like a greasy Tweep sliding into the DMs. As women we are about to be told a whole host of messages from ‘be a strong woman’ to ‘this is your month’ and suddenly we shall hear a whole host about ‘women in leadership’.
One message, however, that seems to always be missing amongst the political, economic and social is the sexual. Women are told to celebrate and consider a whole host of things about themselves but often their sex is not one of them.
Who is telling women to ‘get their orgasms’ whilst they get their degree/money/pilot license?
Before one judges my supposed frivolity, this is not a public service announcement to go out and buy every pack of condoms and tub of lube you see and start scrolling through your contacts. It is a call to genuinely consider what, as a woman, good sex means to you.
Often during this month women are told to seek to accomplish great feats. However, when bodily security and autonomy seem under constant threat women are very rarely told during this time to celebrate their ability to own their bodies – let alone have multiple orgasms.
As a little girl I always knew I could be president or I could be a princess but somehow I never shook the feeling that I shouldn’t hang around older men because something could happen. Never sure what. Simply something. I basically feared rape before I feared the gender wage gap, or could possibly conceptualise what those were. Little girls are told ‘my little sparkly one you can be anything’ but never were we taught we could be safe. And it took 27 years and one particularly dark series of events to get that I deserve to be safe.
Within South Africa (and the world in general) the question ‘who owns your vagina’ is one that plays out time and time again, a continuously contentious conversation. From homophobic (see: corrective) rape to virgin bursaries, from the notions of tradition and culture to instances of being stripped in the streets women seem to be constantly told they do not own their bodies. In a context that sees a study showing that a third of men have admitted to rape and women have to protest against rape during President Zuma’s reading of municipal election results, a conversation that needs to be pushed within public spaces is ownership and entitlement to women’s bodies.
The #1in3 and #RememberKhwezi trends on twitter (alongside public rhetoric) show how long and how far things go before we even begin to have these conversations. It also shows how deep the rot goes when we have to discuss women being raped on women’s day and have to protest the president during election results. Women don’t have to be outside the JSE (to the same extent) because we are taught economic integrity but never are we taught bodily autonomy.
Notions of pleasure and agency are a key part of empowerment and bodily autonomy and this needs to be highlighted as much as any notions of economic, social and economic empowerment.
Sex positivity is a particular brand of empowerment that needs to be engaged with, even though sex positive feminism is sometimes seen as the tequila fuelled party girl of the feminist soiree, all jello shots and dental dams. The ones who burst into conference spaces/workshops/marches on women’s rights screaming ‘yassssssssss queen!’
Sometimes we are, but most of the time we have engaged with the intersectionality of a whole host of issues that pertain to women and seen how a lack of bodily autonomy effects women on different levels in different spaces.
There is much more to the notion of riding dick for dicks sake outside of just being ‘wild and free’. The idea is the cherry centre of a grander paradigm of owning one’s body not only to make money or art but also to make love (or just have raw dirty sex or even no sex at all, whatever floats your boat).
Having great sex goes hand in hand with the right to not be raped, trade your education for purity, have access to proper health care and ensure one’s physical wellbeing. It is fool hardy to divorce one notion from the other because they are all part of one super goal. It is the cherry on top of the extremely delicious cake ‘my body is my own’ cake.
So this woman’s month can we see Sexpo break something out, or have an online sex toy store do a buy one get one free on a clitoral stimulator? Can a wine farm partner up with a tantric sex instructor and have some sort of weekend package? Can we have more ‘ten reasons orgasms are good for the skin’ articles?
And to the women who are being ‘celebrated’ this month take your pole dancing classes and also carry your alert whistle. Say no to bad sex as much as you would to a bad paying job. Criticise their inability to make you come as much as you would their contentious choices at the municipal elections. Do all this because who owns your pussy is as important as who holds your purse strings or political will.
Ride those genitals all the way to your rights.