“I was once told that I over-sexualise myself with the clothes I wear and what I speak about.

“I was told that it is unladylike for a woman to be ‘so’ vocal about the pleasure I get from my own body and from sex.

“I was told this after growing up in my conservative African society where a woman’s body is not her property.

“I was told this after past relationships had systematically stripped away my self-confidence and self-love, time and time again.

“There is something about these kind of statements which imply that only certain people in this world have the right to be proud and confident sexual beings; to find enjoyment and pleasure in their own bodies and in their sexuality – that only men can be such beings.

“… And maybe some women – the women that are conventionally appealing to the male gaze.

“I am told I have no right to desire the pleasures of sex and relationships because they do not belong to me. They do not belong to any woman. They exist in the realm of men alone who are the only ones who get to take pleasure in women’s bodies.

“These statements say that I have no right to take pride or confidence in my own black, not skinny, too curvy body. I am tired of having to explain that ‘despite’ this, I am proud of my body and deserve the same pleasures as any man.

“I am tired of always second guessing my right to love myself. I am tired of being ashamed that I take pleasure in my body and I am tired of being ashamed to admit that I enjoy every aspect of what that means.”

Photo credit: Harriet Evans and Oxford Skin Deep
Photo editing: Harriet Evans

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