Love Matters is interviewing sexperts from around the globe. This week we talk to our own advice columnist Valentine Njoroge (36), a sex writer and feminist writer based in Nairobi.
How do you describe your job to a young child or conservative grandparent?
With children I say I write about things that happen in adult relationships – like the one between mummy and daddy. To adults – conservative or otherwise – I say that I write about sex and answer questions from readers. And that I also examine societal attitudes and perceptions about sex and how they affect our experience of ourselves as part of a whole.
What is the most common question you get?
Probably: “Where do you get all your information from?” But rude men also often ask me if I do one-on-one tutorials…
What question was the most difficult to answer?
A woman once asked me if she had been raped. I had no idea what to tell her. From what she described I thought she had been raped, but she was confused because there was no use of force or intimidation. I hated to break such bad news to her in a public space, but I thought it would instigate conversation. I wrote to her privately in advance to warn her that I would publish her question and then published it when she confirmed that she was okay with it.
What do you consider to be the biggest taboo that you are fighting against?
Talking about sex is easily the biggest taboo.
The other big taboo is female orgasm. In a patriarchal and highly chauvinistic society, female sexual pleasure is not really discussed or prioritised. Some men think I am being pushy and demanding something that is ‘un-African’. While others are happy and willing to become better lovers.
What’s the advice you’ve given that was most useful for yourself?
How to get an unwilling partner to let loose and experiment. Non-positive feedback can sound like criticism, so you have to figure out a way to turn this ‘new’ thing you want to try into a game – and doing that without too much discussion prior to the ‘trying’.
Does your job influence your personal/social/family life?
Definitely. I am always reading about communication, identity and self-improvement because they have a huge bearing on our sexual expression. These subjects have changed how I relate to people on every level.
What is your favourite work of erotica?
Aqua erotica is a waterproof anthology of water-based erotic stories by Mary Anne Mohanraj.
The website www.remittancegirl.com is another favourite. She writes short stories, series and novellas that include themes of BDSM, role-playing and other difficult subjects in a manner that brings these sexual outliers to life, creating understanding in a reader who might be judgmental.