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Conceptualizing Sex and Sexuality, Gender and Gender relation.

by Adunni Tiwatope | April 1st, 2022 11:50 am

When we talk about sex, what comes to our mind?


The phrase that comes to our mind at first might be sexual intercourse activities but sex does not just mean intercourse, it is definitely beyond its typical meaning, it also refers to the categories to which people are typically assigned at birth based on physical characteristics (genitalia) by a gynaecologist.


Sex and Sexuality


Sex according to the construct of the social and political category is the perceived physiological identity difference between persons who are imposed, assigned males, females, and intersex… based on genitalia.
I believe this is insignificant not just because the discussion of sex “genitalia” should end at birth, but more because it’s a yardstick to further discrimination, enabling inequality and oppression in most societies.

Rather than for sex to be enjoyed mutually as intercourse to its best, it’s further otherwise used as a tool to subjugate, define and measure the individual capacity to function outside the bedroom.

Society often sees males and females as a biological binary. However, there are issues with this distinction. The chromosomal markers are not always clear-cut, some babies assigned “males” at birth are born with two or three X chromosomes, just as some babies assigned “females” are born with a Y chromosome and the base of it, we all carry the hormonal structure of both estrogen and testosterone at a uniquely different spectrum of overtime development. Also, some babies are born with genitalia ambiguous genitalia. Being intersex can mean a person has genitals or internal sex organs that fall outside of “ typical” binary categories. Or, a person might have a different combination of chromosomes. Some people do not know that they are intersex until they reach puberty. This explains that biology is complex and bodily development could be a spectrum of growth. Sexuality is not just about sex and certain body part that is associated with sexual activities.


Sexuality includes sexual orientation, such as who a person is attracted to, sexual identity as well as sexual fantasies and attitudes and values related to sex. Sexual orientation refers to sexual and romantic feelings for people of the same gender, a different gender, or more than one gender. People who identify themselves as “straight” or “heterosexual” typically feel only attracted to people of the other heterosexual or straight orientation of a different gender than their own. People who identify as “lesbian” or “gay” typically feel attracted to people of the same gender as themselves. People who identify as “bisexual” typically feel attracted to both the opposite and
same gender as themselves. People who identify as “Pansexual” do not just feel attracted to more than one gender but they do not see the existence of gender in their romantic feelings and relationship. People who use the term “queer” may use it to mean other terms that describe their experiences beyond the societal matching binary. Sexuality is a spectrum of sexual attractions which may be subjected to evolving changes in sexual preferences.
Sexual orientation can change over time for some people. A person might be attracted only to people of the same gender as themselves, and then later be attracted to more than one gender. This means that sexual orientation is diverse for some people.


Gender and Gender relation


The World Health Organization WHO explains gender as “Gender refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed. This includes norms, behaviours and roles associated with being a woman, man, girl or boy, as well as relationships with each other. As a social construct, gender varies from society to society and can change over time”. Based on this definition, gender is seen as a socio-cultural construct where roles and behaviour are determined and distinguished by the society based on perceived characteristics of man/woman, boy or girl.
The above definition shows the binary idea of the societal class system leaving out other persons who do not fit into the binary norms, roles, behaviours, and characteristics as insignificant.
However, the concept of gender has enjoyed frequent usage but has been subjected to diverse definitions and interpretations.
Gender is widely agreed to be a social construct that arises out of culture and cuts across all parts of society. For so long in history, gender and sex have been defined in binary between male and female, man
and woman, boy and girl eradicating the existence of others that do not fit in or outside the binary based on gender relations provided as the standard of interrelationships and dynamics of power between binary gender in the society (man and woman) —

Gender relations define how people interact with others and how others relate to them, depending on their attributed gender, and they should be analyzed within the cultural context in which they develop——The Psychology of Gender and Health, 2017.


Gender relation across all societies is not just skewed as parasitic and exploitative of women, it
also erases other forms of gender existence and denies the ability to tap into the diversity of self,
basically making persons who do not exist according to the binary system dysfunctional and a problem. Understanding that gender and gender relation are distinctive and roles are spelt out according to the structure of the society and culture, there is hardly any society where the roles to describe masculinity and femininity enable equality.


Gender relations in Nigeria only recognize Man and Woman class system and this is enabled by the patriarchal nature of the Nigerian society —- a system based on distinctive sexual
physiological characteristics at binary level male and female, where persons who are assigned male at birth are societally ascribed as men and females as women. Patriarchy is the authoritative male centred system that is oppressive and discriminatory, it is enforced through an early socialization process that continues to instil discriminatory attitudes in children
that grow up to be adults. A “male” child is labelled as a “boy”, trained to grow up into a man expected to exude rigidity, authoritative in the society and not a simple form of softness and weakness as such traits are
perceived as feminine while the “female” child is labelled as a girl, socialised to be supportive to their husband and expected to be dependent, labour for free and never to show any form of bravery as such trait is commended masculine neglecting individual capacity while constructing
them into binary depleted by physiological sex organ.


However, persons who do not meet the standard of humanity as to the binary structure of society are targeted as deviant minorities, invalidated and violently eradicated. In no doubt, society has its expectations and individuals have roles to perform to meet the expectations for the functionality of the society in contexts that align with the societal values and norms.


Gender relations

Nigerian society does not just encourage marginalization and inequality, it also doesn’t give room for diversity of self.

Despite the gender binary documentation in the state, there is the gradual emerging “pity”
recognition of “third gender”, as persons who do not identify with the gender binary in very
fainted parts of Nigerian social institutions are represented under inclusion and diversity projects mostly incorporated by members of the sexual and gender diverse marginalised community.
However, understanding gender diversity is understanding that sex is not gender and it shouldn’t be a determinant factor for individual functionality. .“Someone who identifies with the sex that they were assigned at birth is called “cisgender.” “Someone who is not cisgender and does not identify within the gender binary of man or woman, boy or girl may identify as nonbinary, gender fluid, or genderqueer, among other identities. A person whose gender identity is not totally based on sex assigned at birth might identify as transgender which is a bigger umbrella term.


It’s clear that as much as gender is a societal construct mostly related to binary, gender is more and beyond what it may have seemed to be as explained. Gender is a spectrum of characteristics, traits, expressions, many other internal and external factors and none that holistically represents individuality, which may be related to masculinity, femininity, neither, both and none that is not exactly the socially constructed identity of the man
and woman binary. Gender is who you are and how you see yourself internally and externally as an individual. This means that there are more than two genders because a person may identify and express
their gender in the most suitable ways.
Gender expression is how a person chooses to present their gender to the outside and gender identity is how and what a person feels internal and resonates with. This means that a person may identify as a woman based on their reality and experiences but present as masculine to the outside world although what is considered masculine and feminine changes over culture and tradition.The terms sex, sexuality and gender remain concerned topic in the world of today and this is because of distinguishing human diversity agitating for equality and inclusion.
For so long, many societies have enforced the idea that a person is either a man or a woman based on their sex physiological characteristics and the idea doesn’t work for each other because sex and gender are two different things. Sex ends at birth, sex is a person’s physical bodily characteristics at birth, and gender is all and beyond a person’s identities, expressions, values and societal roles.


In conclusion, The principle of equality may be forged from the gender binary class system, we can not agitate for equality when there is no room for diversity. Humanity is diverse and there may not be an exact balance of inequality if there is no room for affirmation of self in diversity. Our
experiences are totally not based on the outside but also include the inside.
Equality might unfairly constrain us to the subject of oppression and class. Clamouring for equality may not be as strong as the liberation of human nature of diversity just as the nature of the universe there in and out.

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Unending weaponization of faith against LGBT persons in West Africa

Olaide Kayode Timileyin | 1:58pm

Religion, or i say spirituality isn’t new to the people of West Africa pre-colonial era. A known fact is that the indigenous tribes like the Yorubas have oral traditions traceable to the “creation of man”, a well coordinated and systematic way of spirituality, established mainly in ancestral and Orisa worship.

The Yoruba spirituality from West Africa depicts some of it’s divine and gracious figures in a forms which would have been threaten with fourteen years imprisonment if they dare exist on the streets of Nigeria as of today, examples of which are Olokun, Oya , and Esu. In as much as Esu’s masculine energy is often perceived, Esu  “is at once both male and female. his masculinity is depicted as visually and graphically overwhelming, his equally expressive femininity renders his enormous sexuality ambiguous, contrary, and genderless.”

Colonialism and Slavery, didn’t just cart away the people, it introduced us to a new faith, that which we could believe in while on a ship to the lord’s land. “Impacts of slavery and colonialism as ventured on modern societies include: unequal social relations [like homophobia, Patriarchy, etc] and racial inferiority; neo-colonial dependency; distorted economies as well as massive poverty, particularly of the colonies, especially in Africa.”

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In most Africa countries like Nigeria and as recently shown in Ghana, the faith of the people can determine the fate of some people, most especially if the fate of these people would favour the powers that be politically. In 2014, one of the excuses for the enactment of the Same Sex marriage prohibition Act in Nigeria is that our culture and faiths do not give space for homosexuality. In 2021, Ghanaian former procurement minister, Hon. Adwoa Safo said “ The issue of LGBT is an issue that when mentioned, it creates some controversy but [On the issue of our cultural acceptance and norms, these practices are also frowned upon. So, for me, these are two distinct clarities on the matter and that is what I strongly stand for]”.

While there are indigenous and cultural traces of Queerness in West Africa, the faith of it’s modern people seem to either seek to furtherly erase or truncate the fabric of the existence of this “accepting” and not “tolerating” history. With continuous demonization of all that seem to affiliate itself with indigenous faith, which could be blamed on the exact demonization of black sexuality during slavery by colonial masters, West African post-colonial majorly practiced religions have continued to use their faiths to police the existence of people and the sanctity of these region. 

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In Northern Nigeria, the ‘Yan Daudu’ community is a group of persons belonging to the Hausa subculture, whose men act like women and engage in sexual relationships with other men. Sadly, the same Northern Nigeria is currently a home to Punishment by Death in states that operate under the laws of the Muslim faith called Sharia. Mauritania has the harshest anti-homosexuality laws and the subject remains hush hush or taboo, as it similarly does in Niger and Guinea, all of which is credited to the same Sharia law.

Christian Bishops across this regions actively activate and crusade the weaponization of their own faith against sexual minorities in this region, even when most countries in this region are bound by constitutions enacted by unending number of treaties signed by this same region. The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) in an official statement in 2021 said “We, the Catholic Bishops of Ghana, write to condemn all those who support the practice of homosexuality in Ghana,”.

Queer religious activists in the past have physically sought to create safe spaces for the discuss of queerness and faith, but they have been met with the waterloo of violence that comes with the weaponization of the same faith. Rev. Jide Macaulay of House of Rainbow in this article title “Towards Full acceptance” narrated “As a person of faith, my focus was always reconciliation, first with God and then with the people who mattered most to me. It took me several years to come out to my close family members, friends and colleagues. Each step bears its own mark of pain and anguish. I was psychotic at one point. It was difficult for me to trust anyone. I was ill-treated from one African Christian community to another whenever it was discovered that I was gay. 

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The back and forth on the subject of sexuality in West Africa continues to suffer the cringes of faith, and it leaves one lost if one questions the subject of “if certain humans are morally viable to debate the validity of the existence of others, by nothing else but by the yardstick of faith which the constitution recognizes as a choice.

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Queer-excluding-Feminists, Media, and Government up against LGBT Ghanians

written by O.K.Timileyin

On the 31st of January 2021, a popular On-Air-Personality with the name Oheneyere Gifty had her show (The StandPoint- Listen to the feminine side) discussed “my struggle with homosexuality”, inviting two other persons who claimed to be “ex and struggling” gay person and a former Lesbian. Coincidentally, that was also the day for LGBT+ rights Ghana ( A youth led LGBT movement in Ghana) Fundraiser and safe space launch.

Over the years, the African big and small media houses had thrived on emotions, biases, and unprofessionalism when it comes to LGBT narratives, with each giving their audience what they perceive it takes to retain them. With histories of controversies and misinformation being the focal point of these media houses on queer matters, they drive conversations that fuels more hate toward LGBT persons. A major driver of such conversation in media is Ghana is Gifty Anti, who according to LGBT rights Ghana is ” A well known journalist/broadcaster and a gender activist” who “this is not her first time encouraging damaging stereotypes about LGBT persons in Ghana. In 2019, in the heat of the CSE debate, she compared homosexuality to skin bleaching”.

While the LGBT+ rights Ghana led by Alex Kofi Donkor had their fundraiser and safe space opening day, Gift Anti had her discussion. The Safe space opening event was graced by representatives from the European Union Ghana, Australian High commission Ghana amidst others, and this “posed” a threat to the Ghanaian goverment, and media. Writing on their webiste, Modern Ghana said “some people in Ghana have the audacity and effrontery to build LGBT office in Ghana, Tesano to be precise. They held an occasion to officially open their office and called for interested persons to come and join. The most worrying aspect of whole thing is, top officials came to grace the occasion including representatives from African Union, European Union and other top officials from USA, UK and others were present. Their head made it clear that “*they have come to stay.*”

Speaking at the Parliament’s Appointments Committee for vetting on Wednesday, February 17, 2021 , Ghana’s Minister-designate of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Sarah Adwoa Safo spewed “Mr Chair, the issue of LGBT is an issue that when mentioned, it creates some controversy but what I want to say is that our laws are clear on such practice. It makes it criminal. Section 104 of the Criminal Code prohibits one from having unnatural carnal knowledge with another person. So, on the issue of its criminality, it is non-negotiable. On the issue of our cultural acceptance and norms, these practices are also frowned upon. So, for me, these are two distinct clarities on the matter and that is what I strongly stand for,”. Ghana’s Homophobic lawyers Moses Foh-Amoaning and others are working actively to get the Safe Space closed.

Clearing the air on February 11, 2021 as regards the words on the street of Ghana, which had been that the Europeans sponsored the space to “propagate homosexuality” LGBT Rights Ghana posted an official communique stating that the event or office space wasn’t sponsored by the Australian High commision, which was only a guest just like others.

Joyce Opoku Boateng a human rights lawyer in Ghana said that calls for the office of LGBT right Ghana that was recently opened in Accra to be shut down are against the laws of the country. According to Wikipedia “Same-sex sexual acts between males are illegal in Ghana, and LGBT rights are heavily suppressed. The majority of Ghana’s population hold anti-LGBT sentiments. Physical and violent homophobic attacks against LGBT people are common, and are often encouraged by the media and religious and political leaders. At times, government officials, such as police, engage in such acts of violence. Reports of young gay people being kicked out of their homes are also common, as well as reports of conversion therapy occurring across Ghana.

Despite the Constitution guaranteeing a right to freedom of speech, expression and assembly to Ghanaian citizens, these fundamental rights are actively denied to LGBT people. Pro-LGBT activism exists in Ghana, but such efforts are often thwarted by the Ghanaian government.”

While the struggle continues, the media seem continuously acting to misinform the people , “Weaponizing LGBTQ (hating words) by some Ghanaian politicians to discredit, insult & dehumanize LGBTQ Ghanaians. Playing the populist rhetoric & appealing to people’s worst prejudices”.

Lend your voice to the Ghanaian Queer community today by taking a stance against the closure of their safe space. You can write to your Government to lend a voice, Follow LGBT rights Ghana on socials, donate to their course, create infographics, or share this !

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