Addressing women during an RPF-Inkotanyi Women’s League Congress in Kigali on April 22, 2017, the president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, warned elder women against terrorizing the younger ones about tolerating domestic violence during bridal showers. The president was talking about women’s empowerment and women being advocates for themselves and each other. He reminded them that their rights were not a privilege and leaders are responsible for enforcing and protecting those rights.
I’m not going to go into detail about the domestic violence and gender issues that he addresses on a regular basis, but I will talk about it as it relates to the bedroom.
First of all, what baffled me was the fact that my own president knows about bridal showers! I could not believe my eyes when I read the article about his speech and kept wondering who in the world told him about that!? But I gotta give it to him, the man knows his stuff!
I don’t know if this is common in other countries, but in Rwanda, before a bride gets married to her beau, her friends and family organize a bridal showers/kitchen party for her where they buy her different gifts she can use in the home, and her aunties and some elder women talk to her about different subjects concerning marriage. Each woman has a subject to talk about and these include cleanliness, cooking, financial management, submission, parenting, religion and, of course, the juicy topic that is sex. This used to be my favourite subject but I was always disappointed by women brushing over stuff like we’re kids under 18 (some of them worried that we would practice these things before marriage! Ha!). But on a few occasions I would stumble upon some bold women who were passionate and elaborated on the subject, needless to say they always came as a surprise!
However, the majority of these women seemed shy and lacked a passion for sex, it made me wonder if they ever enjoyed it. I always wished they could talk about orgasms, about trying new things with your man, about being a freak in the bed, all these things I read in novels and saw in movies and on the internet that I wanted to hear from ordinary women. Especially the elder ones. I understand the reluctance and reservation of the private matter, especially as Rwandans, but what I resented the most was that these women made sex seem so hard!
They made it seem like your sole purpose in life is to please the man, whether you like it or not. Some of them even teach to never say no to a man because if you do he will go look for sex somewhere else, never mind if you have a headache or are simply not in the mood. At one bridal shower, these women told the bride that her husband is not her brother, he is someone else’s son! Meaning, she doesn’t need to speak her mind or complain about anything; I don’t need to tell you that the bride was sobbing miserably by the end of that shower.
I realized I was getting resentful of the marriage institution because it felt like a necessary evil, I also wondered why no one held a ‘groom shower’ for the men and they got to have their fun bachelor party! I asked my male friends, both married and single, and was happy to learn that they disputed most of the things these women teach, they actually want their women to find pleasure in sex. What a relief!
There is a hormone that is released during sex, cuddling, kissing, labour and breastfeeding. This oxytocin hormone, also known as the ‘love hormone’, increases romantic attachment, empathy, bonding between romantic partners or parents and children and can also intensify memories of bonding gone bad. This simply shows how natural sex is and how it is designed for pleasure. It also shows that, when abused, it leaves us with bruises and eternal scars. So you can imagine the damage that is done when someone has not consented to having sex, they do not feel any closer to their partner, if anything they feel distant and in some cases grow resentful towards their partners, especially if they are not educated on their rights and are constantly abused.
I know that some of the things taught in these showers are very useful and I also know that the times are different now, especially because we are more exposed than before with the era of the internet, these elder women are not entirely aware of all these changes. They are simply teaching us what they know or what they think we should do.
However, what I wish was emphasized more is that every relationship is unique and comparison is harmful. I wish that sex was taught in an appealing way to women in these bridal showers, I wish they were taught about their rights and marital rape. I wish that they were taught that sex is such an amazingly beautiful thing invented by the Creator himself for marriage. I wish they were taught that they should love and honor their husbands and expect to be loved by them. I wish they were taught that their voice and opinion mattered in the bedroom. I wish they were taught that it’s okay to say no and not feel guilty about it. I wish they were taught that they are allowed and encouraged to try new tricks and be whatever they want to be as long as they both agree. I wish they were taught that sex is meant for intimacy and it will bring them closer to each other. I wish women were taught that they should have orgasms, many of them! Ha!
And I wish that men were be taught too. They don’t know everything. I wish they were taught how to treat women right, how to love them as they want to be loved. I wish they were taught that as much as they are sexually driven beings, they are humans and they should respect their partners’ rights. I wish they were taught that a woman’s no doesn’t mean a yes or a maybe or playing hard to get, in any setting – married or not. I wish men were taught that a woman should be treated how they want their daughter treated.
And most importantly, I wish everyone was taught that above all, love conquers all and sex is the result and cannot be the driving force in a marriage.
And to those still organizing bridal showers, follow the advice of my president: Empower women, do not scare them.
Here’s to sex and multiple orgasms! Ha!