It has come to the attention of Cosmopolitan UK that women in Africa (the country) are using “various means” to reduce moisture in their vaginas and consequently tighten them so that men can enjoy sex more. This “dry sex” as Cosmo call it, making it sound like some weird pornographic fetish, is due to a “distinct lack of sexual education”. African women, they argue, wrongly believe that a tight vagina means a woman has had few partners rather than that women are simply shaped differently.
What’s more, by making themselves appear tighter by douching themselves with detergents, alcohol, antiseptics, and even bleach in order to appear more desirable to the men of their society, African women are not only not enjoying sex, they are also putting themselves at increased risk for HIV and other STIs.
Fair enough. The idea that any woman should dry herself up for a man’s sake is ludicrous, dangerous and depressing. Also, condoms do indeed function best in lubricated and not dry vaginas so the risk of contracting a disease is higher. And let me be clear, there is no question that deeply disturbing customs such as this one and FGM that are rooted in the fear of women’s sexual pleasure exist across the continent.
But the hypocritical bubble where Cosmo claims that this is “just another violation that is sadly so commonplace among cultures dissimilar from our own” needs punctuating. In fact, let me just go ahead and link to Cosmo’s own content to expose this nonsensical posturing. It seems that western women are practicing horrific sexual practices such as labioplasty, vaginal shrinking, vaginal rejuvenation, labia dye and vulva and anal bleaching. If that is not enough, let me remind you that this is the magazine that published a book titled, “Cosmo’s Ultimate Guide to Your Va-jay-jay”.
Cosmopolitan Magazine, please do us a favour and take your ethnocentric, neo-colonial explorer gear out of African women’s “va-jay-jays”. And just in case it is still not clear, the use of mankwala ya kubvalira, which btw the insertion of substances into the vagina is called, is NOT previously undiscovered. African feminists and scholars are well aware, and well concerned, about it. (pdf)
What do you think?
Hi! I’m Minna Salami. I’m a writer, blogger, columnist, lecturer and speaker and the founder of the feminist blog, MsAfropolitan, which connects feminism to contemporary culture from an Africa-centred perspective. I’ve been listed alongside Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie as one of “twelve women changing the world” by ELLE and my work has been used as a resource and case study at universities around the world. Like what you just read? Sign up above to receive new posts directly in your inbox.