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HUMSS - Eyo Mensah

Prof. Dr. Eyo Mensah

Anthropological Linguistics
University of Calabar, Nigeria

Baby, I’m coming: The linguistic construction of orgasm by female youth in rural and urban Nigeria
When Nov 22, 2021
from 03:00 PM to 04:00 PM
Where Seminar room
Contact Name
Attendees Universitätsoffen / open to university members
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Baby, I’m coming: The linguistic construction of orgasm by female youth in rural and urban Nigeria


In this presentation, I examine the discursive construction of vaginal and clitoral orgasms in heterosexual experiences of sexually active young women in Akpabuyo (a rural setting) who have undergone genital mutilation/cutting and those in Calabar metropolis (an urban centre) who have not been circumcised. Both locations are found in southern Cross River State, South-eastern Nigeria. Exploring in-depth semi-structured interviews and informal conversations with twenty young women, I analyse the nuanced narratives and perspectives of participants’ experiences, beliefs and linguistic framing of orgasm during casual sexual encounters. Participants’ discourses of orgasm revolved around four dominant thematic threads: sources of orgasm; orgasm as the height of pleasurable sex, the correlation of orgasm with female genital mutilation/cutting and the locally constitutive lexicon of orgasm. I discovered that participants in the urban setting tended to have higher sexual satisfaction and orgasmic expression than participants in the rural areas. These differences account for their varying linguistic conceptualisation of orgasm. The finding reinforces stereotyped norms about female sexual desire and resonates with existing cultural beliefs about female genital mutilation/cutting. In this way, orgasm provides an entry point into young women’s sexual empowerment or disempowerment, and defines how they are doing or undoing gender.