TIME TO UNLEARN: GENDER, CULTURE AND SEXUALITY

The day started with the young leaders on tenterhooks, having been asked to write their biggest secret on a sticker note. Juliana Pita, one of the young women at the training says the day was too intense that she practically forgot about her phone. According to her, ladies tiptoe about their sexual organs and in so doing, their male counterparts get to know their bodies more than themselves.

The trainees who come from different cultural backgrounds, were asked to name the vagina in their mother tongues. None was bold enough to rise to the challenge as they noted that it is a taboo to openly talk about sexual organs in their various cultures. Growing up, they added, the vagina was regarded as a dirty part of the body because of menstruation.

Ms. Kayondo talks to the trainees about sexual hierarchy

According to Ms. Kayondo, a gender consultant and Feminist, society uses sexuality to control the woman through prescribing dress code, perceptions, and roles among others. The woman, by virtue of her sexuality, controls inheritance as a process. Inheritance in the African society is a contested issue, and even if the law seeks to bridge the inequality gap, there is a lot to be done to ensure that women are recognized in the society.

Summing up the session, Ms. Kayondo called the trainees attention to the existence of a charmed circle, which is seen as the natural/blessed/ normal when it comes to sexuality; and the damned circle, which referred to the outer limits or the abnormal, unnatural and bad, thus unacceptable. The Charmed circle is what society holds as desirable and has been key in entrenching inequality, stereotypes, discrimination and marginalization of women and men.

By the end of the day, the trainees had a better understanding of how much power they wield by virtue of belonging to the female gender. They also got to understand the need to unlearn socially constructed roles, beliefs and norms that socialization has imparted in them. Some of the trainees felt that the fight for equality should not be used to erode society morals. They expressed the need for a middle ground for coexistence noting that transformation is a process that takes time.

Trainees discuss stereotypes during the Gender, Culture and Sexuality session

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