Academic journal article African Studies Quarterly

Toyin Falola and Nana Akua Amponsah (Eds.). 2013. Women, Gender, and Sexualities in Africa

Academic journal article African Studies Quarterly

Toyin Falola and Nana Akua Amponsah (Eds.). 2013. Women, Gender, and Sexualities in Africa

Article excerpt

Toyin Falola and Nana Akua Amponsah (eds.). 2013. Women, Gender, and Sexualities in Africa. Durham, North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press. 356 pp.

For centuries Africa has been "the exotic," "the sexual other," "a conundrum to be understood" (by whom and in relation to whom?), it was more than high time to have a comprehensive compilation of texts written on several aspects of sexuality from a decisively African point of view and centered on African ways of analyzing their own reality. This book is that compilation and a great introductory text on the subject, showing us varied perspectives, different from those of anthropological and ethnological studies, while also applying the exhaustiveness to the geographical aspect and thus dealing with most part of the continent.

The book is structured in four parts, in addition to a comprehensive introduction where the theoretical framework and a bit of the history of the issues and the genesis of the book are clearly explained. The first part, entitled "Contesting Sexualities and the African Woman's Body," focuses on the various aspects of African women's sexuality, which can be used to the women's own advantage (as shown in the first text, on Les Saignantes), but is very often considered as "overwhelming" and "unleashed" by European men and women (there is a chapter on women's travel narratives and also on African women's sexuality viewed through the lens of Western religions). It is also a topic of different types of traditional art (and there is a text on Yoruba carvings) and, finally, something women have to fight to recover control of (as analyzed in the last chapter of this section, on the Kikuyu women's movement to fight for their sexual rights).

Although for some people homosexuality is as un-African as feminism, the topic is covered in the second section of the book, which tackles homosexuality and the politics of identity. There are only four chapters in this section, dealing with the reality of the situation in Ghana and Nigeria, the Ugandan fight for rights for homosexuals as a human right issue, and an analysis of South African's media published with a homosexual audience in mind. …

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