What you need to know:
- My fear of talking about sex stemmed from years of social conditioning that sex was a bad word, only to be talked about within the confines of the marital bedroom.
- Talking about sex empowers women to take ownership of their sexual experiences and develop healthy expectations.
Dr Zippy Okoth talks about sex like she is talking about the weather. And why shouldn’t she? This is how it should always be.
I ‘met’ her on stage in the first week of October when she was performing her one-woman show titled Side Chick Wife, where she provided all the cringe-worthy details of her adventurous love, sex and married life.
Having read her first book on her divorce titled Ooops Zippy and having followed her deeply entertaining social media posts, I believed the story she shared was not just for the stage. She was sharing a generous slice of her juicy life.
In the words of renowned theatre critic Margaretta wa Gacheru, she “kept us riveted to our seats, disbelieving that she could speak so casually about sex and how it has been an essential element in her character’s life”.
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In the middle of the three-hour play and amid breathless laughter, because Dr Okoth is a masterful performer with a Trevor Noah-level sense of humour, I turned to my friend and asked in a quick and urgent whisper: “How can she say such things? Her students are here!”
Dr Okoth teaches at KCA University and her students were part of the audience. I could not see their faces but imagined that they, too, must have been shocked.
Even as a feminist and liberal thinker, sex is still a taboo topic for me. And I cringed at some of Dr Okoth’s words about orgasms, sex toys and other X-rated sexual escapades.
My fear of talking about sex stemmed from years of social conditioning that sex was a bad word, only to be talked about within the confines of the marital bedroom. Or to be hidden in euphemisms and clothed in shame.
“You know what? I don’t think men and women talk enough about sex. How can such a natural thing bring forth such absurd reactions?” my friend whispered back, swiftly paving the way for my moment of epiphany.
I realised that we don’t talk about sex often enough. We are not socialised to do it, even if we are products of it.
I almost fainted in shock when my eight-year-old daughter told me a few months back: “I know what happens before the baby gets into the stomach. A boy’s private parts must touch a girl’s private parts.”
I had to have the birds and bees conversation with her very fast.
Women and girls experience sexual violence at a higher rate than men, so it makes perfect sense for them to talk about sex. Some forms of female genital mutilation (FGM) like clitoridectomy, are specifically done to ensure that women don’t enjoy sex.
Also read: Teach the youth about sex
Sex has also been used to shame women. That’s why some women have perfected the art of lying about the number of sex partners they have had. That’s why virginity is treasured in women but ridiculed in men.
Talking about sex empowers women to take ownership of their sexual experiences and develop healthy expectations. In a patriarchal world where women’s bodies and what they do with them are controlled by men, it’s essential to have women take charge of what happens to their bodies.
I want to believe that by talking about sex openly, Dr Okoth permitted other women to do so as well. By reclaiming their voice, they can reclaim their power.
Miss Oneya comments on social and gender topics. Twitter: @FaithOneya; [email protected]