A few days leading to March 30th, a quick scroll down Twitter streets revealed a buzz, a thrill that was taking the Twitterverse by storm. The second edition of Girl Talk Uganda was coming up and Feminists could not keep calm. Not only because of the theme this time round, on Sexual Positivity, Wellness and Liberation, a contested topic, but because here again was a safe space for women to share as sisters and have open and honest conversations about their our bodies.
Choose Yourself in partnership with Akina Mama wa Afrika convened Feminists from all around Kampala in the first 2019 Girl Talk Session. The reason for the choice of the theme was because of the controversy, unnecessary secrecy, unfair policing and oppressiveness that women’s sexuality is ensconced in Uganda. The femme only safe space was dedicated to having honest, open conversations for those with questions or those seeking to learn.
The talk was hosted by Girl Talk Ambassador and alumna of the African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI), Lisa Rabwoni, and the well informed and articulate panel consisted of Ophelia Kemigisha, a human rights lawyer, queer feminist and writer, Keem Love Black, Executive Director of trans positive-Uganda, Phyllis Wanjiru, communications officer at sexual minorities Uganda, Shira Natenda, Executive Director of Golden Center for Women’s Rights Uganda and Anne Chimoyi, Co-ordinator of HIV/AIDS and reproductive health services at Ndejje university. Phyllis and Shira also being alumnae of our AWLI.
Starting off with a discussion on sexual positivity and what it means to you, the answer that I wanted to cheer for and endorse was ‘everyone is entitled to good sex’ by Keem but what struck me was Shira’s.
It means having sex with whoever you want regardless of gender, as long as it is consensual.
This led us into the discussion on consent, the conversation went on to discuss shame, sexuality, power relations, consent and sexual rights. A couple of things stood out for me in the discussion like our privilege, and how little we truly know about some of the issues that affect women who earn very little. Here are a few more:
The eight awesome things I learnt from Girl talk
- Bodily positivity is everything, change your inner monologue to a more affirming tone and you will believe it. Love yourself, your body and look after it. This for me was simply the realization that you cannot shame someone over something they have made peace with. Also it is important to be kind to yourself and as much as you acknowledge the things that may and can go wrong, learn to evaluate yourself according to your good aspects as well.
- I was able to fully understand the politics of shame and how to unlearn the behavior’s that are influenced by the shame taught like policing yourself and your friends. Shame also comes in the form of feeling naughty or sinful for thinking or doing certain things and just as it’s taught to us we can unlearn it.
- How to deal with insecurities and the root causes which included post trauma rejection, social anxiety and perfectionism how to deal with insecurity appreciate yourself, evaluate yourself positively and surround yourself with people who understand you.
- Another lesson was on sex positivity and that we are all deserving of good sex and sex therefore is not something that happens to women as society likes to put it but that happens with women. When it comes to pleasure, the patriarchy centers men’s needs, men’s pleasures men’s expectations and women are socialized to focus on that but it is time we focused and pursued our pleasure as well.
- Taking charge of your sexual health is important and should become the norm. Most often we are told as young women that the worst thing that could happen to you would be to become pregnant and while this may be the reality for some women, we should not completely ignore the existence of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and how lightly men take it. Carry your own condoms or have condoms at home and avoid sitting on public toilets.
- Consent is important and should follow the rules of FRIES that is it should be freely given, reversible, informed, enthusiastic and specific. If a person says yes to coming to visit they have not given consent to sleeping with you.
- Places that offer reproductive health options are not limited to just general hospital but the LGBTQI centers can provide contraceptives for example Freedom and Roam Uganda. Public hospitals also should provide contraceptives and any health institution that is not catholic.
- Power dynamics in a relationship exist and can defer according to wage and age gaps and encouraged to set the tone earlier in the relationship before things get too tricky and get out of your things you can control. Set the rules and boundaries from the beginning.
The talk was fun and engaging in ways that made me laugh but also had me thinking, wait, I am guilty of doing this and I need to be better and do better. I am excited for the next edition of Girl Talk and for those that missed this one I hope you can make the next, there is loads to be done!
Compiled by Evelyn Birungi