First posted 6th June 2021 – updated.
When I was growing up, there was a toxic trend where boys/men would have sex with a girl and go round telling their friends about their experience with said girl. It would not be long before everyone in the neighbourhood/school would be aware of what had transpired between the girl and said boy – In a conservative society like the one I grew up in, the girl almost becomes a pariah with most parents warning their daughters to not be friends with said girl as she would be a bad influence on them and many boys wanting a go. Many girls carry this shame with them as they grow and never have anyone to talk to about this – the end result is girls having an unhealthy relationship with sex. As I talked about this with friends, I realised that this issue was not unique to the society I grew up in alone – it also happened in other societies.
Recently, a friend of mine sent me a YouTube video of a young Ghanaian TV presenter who had lost her job due to posting some provocative images of herself on social media. This young lady was being interviewed on a show hosted by another woman. As the interview progressed, the lady being interviewed explained to her host that with some of her posts on social media, she was having a manic episode as she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The host of the show would then go on and act very insensitive to this lady – almost at some point mocking her guest’s mental illness. Watching the show was very uncomfortable for me and the same for the friend that drew my attention to the show – and I will be picking this up in future posts. Anyway, a few days ago, this young TV presenter decided to bring out a list of the men she had slept with – mind you, she had done this same thing some time back and had decided to do the same again on social media. In her list were some big names in the public as well as some married men and oh boy, did she get people talking or what!.
Suddenly, almost everyone was upset with this young woman and why she had slept with so many men. But my question was, why was society okay with men sleeping with multiple women and telling everyone about it, but if a woman does the same, it was suddenly not okay? And then there were all these wives who were upset that this woman had slept with married men – because yet again, she had snatched these helpless men and slept with them, right? But everyone was forgetting that she was not married and therefore not accountable to any one, but these men were the ones who were married and had vows to uphold. No one was talking about the men – she was the sole topic of every discussion and from women to men, everyone thought less of her because she had had multiple sexual partners – but no one called out men in the same situation. I watched an episode of Iyanla Vanzant some time back – she was helping out a couple that had infidelity issues in their marriage. The wife had no idea that her husband had slept with hundreds of women – however, this wife thought he had been with about 16 sexual partners. When Iyanla asked her if it would have been okay if he had slept with 16 people and not the hundreds, this wife had nothing to say! This attitude that gives men the pass to live their lives however they want and vilifies women when they do the same is what I struggle to understand.
Perhaps, this young woman taking to social media to list the names of men she had slept with was not a very wise decision, but she could have also been having another manic episode and therefore needed help not criticisms. But what I cannot forgive is the slut shaming that is being directed at her for doing the same thing many men do and get slapped on the back and high fives for. It is her decision to sleep with as many men as she wants that is her choice. It does not mean she is damaged goods or a slut – after all, it is men sleeping with her – if they were so concerned about the many men she had been with, why are they sleeping with her consensually? As I read the many comments on social media on this issue and similar stories along this line, an acquaintance of mine posted something on social media that left a bad taste in my mouth. He had posted something to the tune that the longer a man remains single, the more sexual partners his future wife would have! So I commented my shock that in this day and age, an educated man would put out such trash! To my shock, he did not understand why I was worried about his post – so I went to ask my friend Kwadwo who explained that in our society, most people find such primitive narratives comical.
To many people out there, a woman who’s had multiple sexual partners is damaged goods and yet some of these same people will leave their ‘pure‘ wives at home and solicit the services of sex workers. I cannot seem to bring myself to understand why when it comes to sex and morality, women are held to such a biased standard and men are given so much grace and privilege that almost make them think that they can make statements alluding to the fact that because a woman is comfortable in her sexuality, by the time they get married, they are damaged goods! I once heard a story of a young lady who found herself being slut shamed when her partner went round her neighbourhood telling his friends that he had slept with her. She was a very independent young lady and had caught the attention of this boy because of how she carried herself – unknown to her, there was a bet to prove who could sleep with her. This young woman was not like your ordinary Ghanian girl, she had been raised by parents who were liberal and so she did not care that she was being shamed, but she was hurt that something private shared with her partner was now being used against her. So she went round telling her friends that said boy had a small penis and boy, he was not happy when he heard!
I am in no way condoning spreading lies about people but I think sex is a very intimate act between two people and those involved should respect each other’s privacy. The character of a person should not be determined by how many sexual partners they have had. If a man is more concerned about how many people a woman had slept with before him, when he himself may not even be a virgin, if I may add, then re-think your relationship. And when it comes to morality, the same measuring stick used for men should be used for women. For the women who shame other women who are comfortable with their sexuality but give men a pass when they behave the same way – you are part of the problem!
Thank you so much for always getting in touch – please continue to share your experiences so we can effect the change we need.