The Sex Lives of African Women
Self-Discovery, Freedom, and Healing
by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah
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Pub Date 01 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 15 Feb 2022
Astra Publishing House, Astra House
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Touching, joyful, defiant -- and honest."
—The Economist, a best book of the year
Celebrate African women’s unique journeys toward sexual pleasure and liberation in this empowering, subversive collection of intimate stories.
In these confessional pages, women control their own bodies and desires, work toward healing their painful pasts, and learn to assert their sexual power. Weaving a rich tapestry of experiences with a sex positive outlook, The Sex Lives of African Women is an empowering, subversive book that celebrates the liberation, individuality, and joy of African women's multifaceted sexuality.
From a queer community in Egypt, to polyamorous life in Senegal, and a reflection on the intersection of religion and pleasure in Cameroon, feminist author Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah explores the many layers of love and desire, its expression, and how it defines who we are.
Sekyiamah has spent decades talking openly and intimately to African women around the world about sex for her blog, “Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women.” For this book she spoke to over 30 African women across the globe while chronicling her own journey toward sexual freedom.
Major national print, digital, and radio publicity campaign including features, interviews, and reviews
Pitches to feminist, sexuality, international and Africa-focused reviewers and publications
Pitch author for interviews on radio, podcasts, and television
Multi-month social media prepub campaign on Astra House's Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, continuing on and after pub day
Highlight in Astra House newsletters and on website
Virtual and/or in-person author events with independent bookstores
Digital marketing/publicity campaign including features and reviews
Major awards submission campaign
Targeted media outreach to reviewers and publications who focus on women's issues, sexuality, and international issues, especially on the African continent
Targeted #Bookstagrammer outreach
ARC giveaways in trade media, including Goodreads and Netgalley
Promote to regional and national festivals
Book club outreach and discussion guide
Trade and consumer advertising
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 14 members
As soon as I saw the title of this book on Netgalley I wanted to read it. I wanted to read it for two reasons; I wanted to know what made Nana Sekyiamah bold enough to go from her blog posts to publishing this book and the second is that, I wanted to tell myself that it's okay to talk about sex as a young black African Kenyan woman.
I think I had the wrong reasons for reading this book because from the very beginning, everything I have learned and grown up being told about sex and my body has been under the lense of someone else. Growing up in the 90s it would often be: "don't even think about sex, don't sit next to a boy you may get pregnant and if you do, your life is done, Aids is real and you'll die quick and thin... and so forth.
Then as years went by, My Mother would tell me, it was my body and my decision to treat it as I wanted to- as long as I had a good education, my own money, I shouldn't let anyone dictate what I should do with my vagina- and then I come across this book in my early 30s and I love it so much because in the stories there is pain, confusion, anxiety, fear, conviction, honesty, strength...everything that I felt and wished to feel regarding my body.
This is a good book to share with friends, daughters, mothers, brothers and fathers. The author says that the moment she started talking about sex she knew it was political, and she's right, it's political because even now, most would say 'how dare you?'
Brilliant! I haven’t read a book similar to this and I thank you for having the vision to shed light on these stories that desperately needed to be told and shared. I have learned so much through this work of art and look forward to reading more!
I'm super grateful to @littlebrownbookgroup_uk as well as @netgalley for sending me both a physical and e copy of this wonderful collection of stories by African women. I'm not a big fan of interview collections, but man this book is so so special. @dfordarkoa did an outstanding job of collecting stories from African women across age, religion, sexuality, gender and relationship status. Every single story hit home. I especially appreciated the fact that trans women and sex workers weren't locked out of the conversation. This is especially important because a lot of women on the continent will be picking this up and hopefully this way there can be room for openness in acceptance of womanhood in all the forms it takes, even with respectability thrown out the door. I also loved the stories about healing because they made the collection more realistic. Sex isn't always just fun and games, and being sex positive shouldn't mean only focusing on the good.
This was a fat five stars for me. I hope you get to pick it up and give it a read whoever or wherever you are.
I loved this anthology of essays from a cross-section of women across the continent speaking frankly on sex, relationships and queerness. It's varied and open, irrespective of country of origin, age, orientation or religious background. I loved that it charts a path from sex as self-discovery to liberation and healing. It is groundbreaking for the way it exposes the myriad of ways African women are taking back power in terms of sex, relationships and transgressing gender norms. From discussions on kinks, sex work, and polyamory; there are many ways of having sex or not, and many forms of relationships. That there are so many stories with trauma attached speaks to a universality that is unconscionable. That so many of the women are affiliated with activist communities is also unsurprising. The curation is wonderful, and I believe that it is possible for almost any woman to see herself in one of these essays. However, some stories felt predictable or even repetitive after a while, but that's the nature of an anthology in itself. Life is not fixed, or binary, lines and spectrums remain fluid or blurred, and in this acknowledgment of flexibility lies the power of this anthology.
An outstanding exploration into the sexuality of each woman. I really enjoyed the flow of the writing and the truth behind each word.
Brilliant book! I felt so seen reading these essays. Such an important book for African AFAB, women and NB folks read this book at least once. I'm so excited to do a review.
Sex-positive and liberating, THE SEX LIVES OF AFRICAN WOMEN is diverse and then some.
An anthology of stories that run a spectrum of identities and orientations. They are beautiful stories of sex and love and relationships ranging from monogamy and polyamory and everything in between.
There are stories of abuse and of the ramifications along those lines. There are stories of kink and experimentation. There are stories of finding what works and what doesn’t. But mostly these are stories of how women identify and how their sexual lives are experienced.
There’s a lot about setting sexual boundaries, learning and growing from sexual experiences and relationships, and becoming the most whole of a person you can be no matter what your orientation is and no matter who you have sex with.
Very fem. Very informative and inspiring!
Quite the read!
Thanks to Astra Publishing House and Netgalley for the advanced copy!
This is absolutely the kind of book that would spark a conversation with my friends and I can’t wait to share with them. It touches on topics that are taboo or painful with sensitivity and without sensationalizing the stories it’s trying to tell. In a way it normalizes the variety of experiences African women can have, and reveals the freedom and agency that can be carved even in the most difficult situations. I love that this book makes place for both grief and joy.
Writing wise I wish I felt more of a stylistic difference between the testimonies in this book. The most enjoyable ones where those where I felt from the text that the woman was speaking in her own voice. I still liked that they were short and conversational pieces.
I think the author is aware of it but there is definitely a self selection bias issue with the interviews. I noticed a pattern of testimonies coming from women whose lives are structured around migration and a certain amount of privilege, and it’s not often addressed directly within the narrative. It doesn’t bother me because it’s also true of my experience, and the book doesn’t claim to be universal, or an exhaustive survey, but it does raise the question of why so many black/african women feel like they have to leave their communities to find their truth, and why are only some of us are afforded this option. But that’s one for the book club to try and answer ;)
TW: Sexual Abuse
Read this book if you want to read stories centered on the sexual experiences of African Women. It is an important book that demonstrates the nuance of sexuality and race.
The Sex Lives of African Women celebrates sex positivity, liberation, and consent while offering cultural and religious influences. It includes stories from women in the LGBTQIA+ community and experiences with polyamory. Each story has a unique perspective adding to the richness this book offers, and it's a great contribution to the collection of works dedicated to the African Diaspora.
This book was a very eye-opening book for me for a variety of reasons. As someone who grew up in a sex-negative, religious upbringing, this book allowed me to see other sexual experiences beyond the teachings I grew up with that was centered on heterosexuality and monogamy.
If you decide to read this book, be mindful that some of these stories discuss sexual abuse. Some of the stories, specifically in Part 3 were difficult for me to read.
A soul-searing, necessary reading type of book. I really enjoyed this book! it is full of love and community and shows all different types of ways to embrace and learn sexuality. it is boundless and doesn't condone any barriers or limits to how to grow in your own sexuality and embrace it, all from the perspective of the beautiful african diaspora.
a must read for those who are currently on a sexual journey of self discovery, freedom, and healing (those are the 3 sections explored). i found myself highlighting and relating to way too many of the thoughts/actions some of the contributors had. the author provides an introduction to each persons story and the trigger warnings that will appear as it pertains to individuals story. rape is a reoccurring theme in most stories and seeing how each person has dealt with it or are currently processing it decades later was informative. the continuous reappearance of uncertainty was really reassuring as it showed that self-discovery and healing can be as life long journey.
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