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Nigerians and their attitude towards sex

By Sabella Abidde

Globalization and modernity is having an impact on the Nigerian society. But in spite of the permeating nature of these phenomenons, there is a visible contradiction in attitude towards sex and sexuality. For instance, a great many Nigerians are shy when it comes to talking about sex.

Even in the cosmopolitan areas, most Nigerians are not at all brazen and open and accepting of public discussions of sex; and in fact an overt public display of affection is not common. Yet, the Nigerian music and dance and other art forms exude eroticism and sexuality. To listen to some Nigerian music is to listen to the moans, whispers and the fiery sound of sex in motion.

In southern Nigeria, it is not uncommon for a man to stare at a woman's bosoms or buttocks; it is not uncommon to comment about the beauty of a woman's physique and it is also not uncommon to overtly express sexual intentions. This attitude is not about a lapse in morality or about moral decadence; or about a perversion of any sort. No.

The south is simply more open, more accepting and more social. Globalization and western education is more pronounced here. But a mile or two up north, the community is somewhat conservative and reserved in all matters sex. They enjoy and engage in sexual activities as much as the south, but are given to this air of moral superiority and have the tendency to clothe most things in religious and cultural dressings.

Until recently, sex was primarily for procreation and for the benefit and pleasure of men. Very few men paid attention to the feelings and satisfaction of women. The women were expected to just lie there and take it and be grateful. Most women did. But that's no longer the case.

Formal and informal sex education, feminist movements, non-governmental organizations, adult magazines and other pornographic newsletters and movies and mainstream Hollywood productions have paved the way for the new sexual liberalism. Additionally, international travels and exposure to western concepts and practices also helped in this regard.

Today's Nigeria is vastly and radically different from the Nigeria of yester-years. Most women -- especially those between the ages of 18-40 -- are like their western counterparts: independent, assertive, and competitive and can, in most cases, go toe-to-toe with their men. Whether this is good or bad for the wellbeing of the society is beyond the scope of this piece.

What's for certain is that Nigerian women are beginning to find their place and their voice in a society that was for so long dismissive of their feelings and concerns and their sexual needs. In a society where men thought it was their birthright, a sort of entitlement to have as many sexual partners as possible, now find that women are demanding, and are indeed excising their rights.

This realization is shocking to some men, and it is even more so to the very conservative community in Northern Nigeria.