I remember being taught sex education (how to have sex) at age 14 in class by three male teachers – Mr. Ngugi, Mr. Njoroge and Mr. Waweru.
Not even one female teacher.
As an A-student and a super geek with a dream career in the world of science, every detail mattered. And so I asked all sorts of questions just as the boys did, but even the teachers made me feel awkward for asking too many questions as a girl.
At some point, I wondered why I was the only girl in class asking questions. Even fellow A-student girls didn’t raise their hands.
Yet the boys kept asking all sorts of questions: “How many ‘holes’ do girls have?” “What happens during sex?” “How do you wear a condom?”
And while in the name of science I needed to know facts, I still had questions to ask that I didn’t think the male teachers could answer:
“Does it hurt?” “When do I know I’m ready?” “What if I’m not, ready? Can I say No?” “Do they know that my body hurts sometimes?”
Looking back, I realise that while the teachers did their best to educate us about sex, it still wasn’t enough. It wasn’t holistic.
And as a girl, I didn’t have a safe space to honestly ask questions about sex.
Soon after, a rape culture began in school, where boys would chase after girls and force themselves. They would pinch, press onto, and grab girls’ body parts. They would penetrate the girls using their fingers. And they would do it in groups.
One boy appointed himself as a referee. As soon as a teacher left class, he called out so the boys could start grabbing onto girls.
The only thing that saved me was that I was not popular and my body had only been developing vertically – height vs curves.
With time, the girls started enjoying it. It made them feel like the boys liked them.
The school caught up too late when they organised a separate platform for girls to talk about sex.
The women teachers who run the platform were strangers to us all girls. The same women who thought we were spoilt, ratchet, and over privileged. How could a girl ask them about sex or even report being harassed?
And so the hypermasculine boys and hyperfeminine girls went on with a new sex culture that was built upon sex education in class.
Today, I saw a news update that 50% of new HIV infections in Kenya are among youth between 15-24 years old.
I’m not surprised by this data, to be honest.
+ Not when school kids are exclusively being taught how to have sex (sex education), and then reactively being taught about sexuality when crisis occurs.
+ Not when girls are still shamed for talking about or even showing interest in sex.
+ Not when women are still being blamed for being raped or sexually harassed.
+ Not when parents expect teachers to introduce their own kids to the world of sex.
+ Not when boys in Mosques are being molested by Imams, girls in Churches are being raped by Pastors, alter boys in Cathedrals are being sodomised by Priests, teenage girls are labelled sluts by older church ladies.
I believe a powerful answer lies in learning from our traditional African sexuality approach (way before the rot and rape of colonization).
We taught sexuality, not just sex.
We taught respecting the human body, emotion, mind, soul, and voice.
Our women could walk half naked, and the men would have self control.
They respected the mother in the woman.
Our men could fight great battles in war, and the women would allow them to cry, to grieve, and show emotion.
Our youth had age sets and age groups where they would journey through life with accountability partners.
But most importantly, there existed active safe spaces for youth to talk about sex without feeling ashamed, isolated, judged or misinformed.
Sex was not taboo, it was a lifestyle.
Sex wasn’t shamed, it was celebrated.
Sex wasn’t a dirty ungodly word, it was a beautiful gift created by God for humankind to enjoy.
Friends, it’s about time we changed the story and conversation about sex.
Let’s talk about sex in a holistic fashion.
Only then can we rediscover the beauty of sex by it’s original design.