See scenes from an interesting session on Sex and the Politics of Pleasure, moderated by my colleague Samah Khalaf Allah and me. We were invited by Dr. Serawit Debele, leader of the Junior Research Group - Sexualities, Political Orders and Revolutions in Africa, to moderate a conversation with the author of The Sex Lives of African Women, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, as part of the lecture series - "African FeminismS Past and Present."
Nana spoke to us about her work interviewing African women and (re)capturing narratives that (hitherto) have silenced, excluded, and criminalized women's pleasure experiences. Her book explores the diverse ways that African women negotiate their sexual identities and experiences, and in storying these experiences, she also attempts to dispel silences, challenge existing norms, and provide options for rethinking or reimagining what we consider to be 'truth.'
A key reflection in the stories of the women (in the continent and diaspora) in Nana's amazing book, is how sex is often 'wielded' for utilitarian and functional purposes and not for the purpose of pleasure. In reading this book and engaging in this conversation, I was truly impacted by the different ways that African women perform resistances and activisms through sex, and the fluid journey from self-discovery to freedom and to healing, among other very important issues raised in the book.
It was such a rich interaction, and I appreciate the opportunity and invaluable insights gleaned from such immensely relevant work. With ongoing debates on memory and the coproduction of knowledge, events like these highlight the importance of storying women's experiences, which is crucial to my current project.