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Can women really negotiate sex?



By Yetunde Arebi


Sometimes ago on this column, we discussed the need for young people, especially the girl child to be well grounded in sex and sexuality education. This is one topic I love so much and just can’t let go off, more so, it is as contemporary as day. The month of March is generally celebrated world wide as the month of women.

Love gone sour

All through this week, celebrations in forms of talk shows, symposiums, lectures, and seminars were held by both government and non- governmental agencies as well as the private sectors, all aimed at drawing the attention of world leaders and decision makers to the plight of women and how best to ameliorate them.

Sex and the female sexuality remains one of the potent weapons of abuse for girls and women across the world, thus undermining safety in terms of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Unfortunately, partners in marriage and long term relationships are not spared from the threats and uncertainties of unsafe sex.

Many factors including sexual inequality aid some of the men in our lives, take advantage of us. So, is safe sex truly negotiable? Who should to be responsible in ensuring safe sex, the woman or the man? So, I have a few friends share their opinions with us below. Quite interesting!

Bayo, an Artist and business man insists its women who manipulate men for selfish reasons:

I have been waiting for this type of opportunity for a long time. To put you women where you rightly belong. Stop heaping all the blames on men. Have you women stopped to put the flash light back on yourselves? It is high time that you realise that you women are the ones responsible for the spread of all the sexually transmitted diseases in the world today. You and your double standards on issues on relationships.

Women only talk about monogamy when they are comfortably settled in marriages or have hoodwinked a mugun to take them to the altar. Where a woman is yet to find her own mugun, she rarely abhors polygamy, especially when their biological clocks are ticking away.

Then, they will not mind being in polygamous relationships, talk less of marriage. Women coming out of failed marriages also have similar orientations. They all cling to these men without protecting themselves and knowing that they (the men) are in other relationships. Of course it is so they too can get a piece of the action. So, who is fooling who?

You women sexually lure and take undue advantage of the male specie in order to get what you do not rightly deserve in most cases. Go to our institutions of higher learning, even secondary schools and you will be shocked at what is going on there. Such ladies will not bat their eyelids to adopt similar methods to get whatever they want even outside the educational arena.

Many women just want to reap where they have not sowed anything. A man who accepts such proposal from one woman will accept from others and all these women know it. Women are the cause of all the problems surrounding sex.

Yetunde, you people should check yourselves. Tell yourselves the truth. Does a friend who sleeps with her friend’s husband not know that the same man will sleep with his wife later? Or does a sister who is in an affair with her sister’s husband not know that he sleeps with his wife? Any man who takes a woman to bed, will surely take another, and another. So, why is she doing it? Women are the ones spreading sexually transmitted diseases all over the place. Men are just the muguns helping them in the course of their exploits.

For Aderonke, adequate sex education is very important for both sexes:

Leaving out all other extraneous circumstances, sex is supposed to be a mutual act between two (or more) consenting individuals. I would therefore say that each individual, whether male or female is responsible for him/her self and ultimately responsible for safe sex. The level of exposure and education these days leaves very little excuse for ignorance or lack of awareness about what is going on in the society and the global world.

The Internet having turned the whole world into a small unit. The screaming high levels or rates of spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases leaves no one in doubt of the dangers of the land mines we have trapped ourselves in, all by our own undoing. Each individual has a right and the opportunity to do as he wishes sexually, even in a marriage situation.

Gone are the days when women claim to be at the butt of whatever catches a man’s fancy. Every woman should know by now that their fate lies in their hands. If you suspect that your man is unfaithful to you, there is absolutely nothing wrong in asking him to protect himself and where he is unrepentant, you protecting yourself. Though married, it is important to know that each has his/her own life to live and is responsible for living it well. This is where the issue of sex education comes in.

Sex education ought to be inculcated into our school curriculum, to be treated as a compulsory subject to be passed at whatever level it is taught before one can move to the next class. Sex education does not stop at teaching the biological differences between male and female, or how children are conceived and given birth to.

It must encompass a broad sheet of what constitute sex, a sexual act, behaviour, deviance, and even what the law says or permits about sex. These combined with teachings on human rights, will go a long way in assisting the younger generation to be adequately prepared for the challenges ahead in their sex lives.

Ensuring safe sex is the responsibility of every individual willing and, or, is ready to partake in the game of sex, it must not be compromised for any reason, if the individual loves him/her self.

For Beatrice, a Teacher and successful business woman, society is largely to blame and government still has a lot to do to assist women:

The powerful women with all their money who want to retain that married status are going through it, ditto for the helpless housewife who have little or no income to sustain herself and her children should she loose her favours in the sight of her husband. That is why even when  most women know (not suspect) that their husbands are not faithful to them, they will only nag, plead and preach to him, (mind you in a manner that will not incur his wrath) but never resign from performing their conjugal duties as wives.

Not to mention the ridiculous option of throwing a condom at their husbands. The very few categories of women that can do any semi balance of such, are women who have made (it) all by themselves and or, have become bread winners of their families thereby not needing their husbands for that very crucial support, finance and protection.

Equally, these women who have also shaken themselves off all cultural, traditional, moral and societal shackles called values that may intimidate or embarrass them by taking their destiny (selfish or not) into their own hands.

As a girl or woman in our kind of society, you hardly can muster that will power to utilize that option. With the present state of the economy, there is very little most women can do. Please when we talk, let us take holistic look at the options we have and not use our city life, or the few educated and employed, or affluent Nigerians in the cities as yardstick for what really obtains in our society.

A young girl aspiring to come to the city to better her lot with very little or no support from her parents will not have the power to negotiate all of the time, if at all. A  woman without children cannot dictate all the time, just like one without a job or whatever income to sustain herself and her children may not be in the position to negotiate anything even when she knows that she is not the only sexual partner her husband has.

Many young ladies in search of jobs have had to succumb to the whims and caprices of their benefactors, even though most of them may be too ashamed to admit it after all. While many women now freely throw themselves at men for the little benefits they can gain from them, all in a bid to make ends meet. And who can blame them in a society where only material wealth has taken over societal, moral and religious considerations and evaluation in our country.

What of women who fall victim of rape? Is it possible for a rape victim to ask for protection? And worse still, the children, babies, who have become targets of rape by depraved and perverted men who now walk our streets? Are they in position to ask for protection or negotiate how the men will make use of them? My sister, the list is endless. Women can do no such thing, and I want to be corrected otherwise if possible. It is the duty of our government to help us out. Unfortunately, the power of governance still rest squarely in the hands of the men who are our oppressors.

The attitude of government must change towards the women of this country. Free education for all (boys and girls) at primary and secondary school levels must be enforced regardless or religious or geographical excuses. No girl must be married off by her parents before she attains the age of 18. Parents who do this must be punished to act as deterrent to others.

No matter how remote the village where this crime may be perpetuated, they will have neighbours, women and there will be other young girls there who can report such incidents to the authorities.

Our men must get a new reorientation about life and the safety of the society. If you are happy abusing the rights of the women around you because they are not your relatives, be sure that some other men out there will abuse your own female relatives and children too somehow. What goes around must come around. Surely such a man will not be happy, but he will have no one to blame but himself.

Government at all levels must stop paying lip service and politics with the issue of poverty alleviation, creation of small and micro scale industry, and adopt better methods of admitting more women into decision making positions in government at all levels.

This way, Nigerians will be convinced that the government has the interest of the people at heart. It is true that the economy is terrible, the need to survive is great, and the competition is stiff, but some sanity can still be injected into our society if we truly care for one another.

As women, let us stand up for one another in whatever situation we may find ourselves. Many women who get to the top using their bodies and all sorts of unwholesome manners often do not offer helping hands to younger women, preferring that they too go through similar hurdles, just to make sure they have a taste of what success feels like or means.

That ought not to be the case. If Martin Luther and all those great fallen African_American heroes did not pay the ultimate price with their lives, there will not be a Barrak Obama to celebrate. Some people must pay the price for others to have it better and posterity is their reward.

So therefore Yetunde, I am of the belief that it is only men that have the weapon to the change and negotiation we are talking about in their hands. They are the ones that call the shot in almost all aspects of our lives. Our welfare depends largely on them.

As I speak, many married women are enduring and struggling through one form of sexually transmitted disease or the other, contacted from their husbands and to which they can do nothing about. The days of simple Gonorrhoea are over, there are several deadly diseases on the prowl these days that may take several years to manifest in the body.

Hmmm! Do have a wonderful weekend!!





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