By Douglas Anele

The relevant questions any married male lecturer thinking of starting a romantic relationship outside marriage, particularly with a female student he teaches should ask himself before doing so include, but not limited to, the following: Does the lady I want to have an affair with have the qualities I cherish in a woman, to the extent that I am willing to endanger my marriage, my career and the reputation of the university where I work? Do I have enough money to finance it? What will happen if I am infected with serious sexually transmitted disease like hepatitis B or HIV, or if the girl gets pregnant? If the affair becomes public, would I, my family, and the university emerge relatively unscathed from the scandal? For an unmarried lecturer, all these questions apply, except the one that pertains strictly to married colleagues. Probably, at the end of such introspective cost-benefit analysis, a reasonable lecturer would realise that the negative consequences of having a romantic relationship or extra-marital affair with a student, as the case maybe, far outweigh whatever pleasure he might derive from it, and channel his energy to more beneficial productive activities.

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The problem of sexual misconduct, which is not restricted to adults and heterosexuals alone, is a universal phenomenon rooted in the biological, physiological, and mental architecture of the human species. It can never be totally eradicated no matter the institutional measures against it and facetious sermons by pharisaic puritans. Moreover, it is also connected to culturally determined understanding and attitude to sexuality in different societies. Scholars such as Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Bertrand Russell, Havelock Ellis, Simone de Beauvoir, Igor Primoratz have explored the incredibly complex nature of human sexuality from different perspectives. Now, although their theories are informed or shaped mostly by experiences from Western culture, several of their conclusions are largely valid universally. The fundamental insight from their writings is that conventional taboo sexual morality derived from religion and built on unscientific assumptions and beliefs about human nature which has dominated civilisation from antiquity is extraordinarily harmful to the individual and, by extension, to the society as a whole. In my opinion, most people who pontificate and sermonise about sexual harassment, especially religious bigots, top academics, self-styled activists, feminists and journalists lack scientific knowledge about what human sexuality in its diverse manifestations is all about. Their beliefs about sex and attitudes towards it are dictated by the antiquated restrictive dogmas of traditional or conventional sexual morality embedded in religion. To be more specific: in most communities where conventional taboo morality dominates, the ideal is to keep children in as great a degree of ignorance concerning sex as parents, elders, and teachers can achieve. It is considered an abomination for children to see their parents naked and, if their home is spacious, they rarely see their siblings of the opposite sex naked. Again, the children are told never to touch their genitals or speak about them; questions concerning these organs or sex in general are cut short with shocked tones and body language unmistakably intended to communicate disgust and opprobrium. Parents and those entrusted with the care of children tell the very inquisitive ones stupid fairytales about how children were born. At home, schools, and places of worship, the young ones are taught that sex is the original sin, a source of canal pleasure unworthy of virtuous human beings and possible source of danger often used by the devil to lure people into sin. As they grow up, these children whose ideas and attitudes about sex have already been disfigured by ignorant moral puritans secretly get information about sex usually more or less in a garbled form from other children. Because of this, the notion that sex is “dirty” and “nasty,” a topic that “decent people” should avoid, is internalised and entrenched in their minds even before they reach adulthood. As a corollary, children brought up under the influence of taboo morality tend to see sexual relations as something “shameful and inherently unclean.” That conclusion seems justified because they notice that their parents go to great lengths to conceal their mutual sexual attraction. It is not surprising that most people grow up feeling that they have been systematically deceived by those they looked up to for instruction and guidance in matters concerning sex. This bizarre situation usually poisons their attitude towards their parents, teachers, members of the opposite sex, and people with unusual sexual orientation (like homosexuals and lesbians). It is very disheartening that few men and women exposed to conventional upbringing have learnt to feel decently and sanely about sexual relations and marriage. As Bertrand Russell correctly observed, “their education has taught them that deceitfulness and lying are considered virtues by parents and teachers; that sexual relations, even within marriage, are more or less disgusting, and that in propagating the species men are yielding to their animal nature while women are submitting to a painful duty.” Sex, which is as natural as sleeping and eating food, has been turned by ignorant moral terrorists into something else.

The dangers of conventional sexual morality on people are not limited to the issues presented thus far. It also encourages hypocrisy, undue preoccupation with sex and glorification of the body, especially the female body. Christianity and Islam are particularly guilty here. First, the sexual impulse is very powerful and pleasurable when acted upon during intercourse. But, according to religious teaching, sex outside marriage is a sin. Since the impulse for sexual release is strong, men and women must do all in their power to hide their sexual sin by sinning in secret. That is why, despite all the nonsense about sex outside marriage constituting a terrible sin that would lead to hellfire, so-called respected members of the society, including religious leaders, regularly succumb to sexual temptation although they take extreme precautions to hide it. Second, by prohibiting sex except in the narrow confines of matrimony, sexual puritans encourage preoccupation with sexual thoughts. Competent psychologists know that prohibiting anything that gives people pleasure invariably has the unintended effect of encouraging interest in the prohibited item or activity. This implies that prohibition of sex by taboo morality tends to make people think about or want sex more. Third, the excessive glorification of the human body triggers unhealthy interest of men in the female body, and pushes women to believe that chastity and preservation of their bodies, the so-called temple of the Lord, is a supreme virtue. Now, in most traditional societies, especially in sub-Saharan Africa where the weather conditions are reasonably hospitable and women usually moved around without covering their upper bodies, the preoccupation with female breasts by men was virtually non-existent. Presently, in the name of “virtue” and “decency” parents, mothers in particular, ensure that right from the earliest years their daughters are fully clothed at all times. Children no longer played naked or half naked with their age mates, even in the morning when exposure of the skin to sunlight is beneficial because of the Vitamin D it generates, or to avoid excessive heat. Puritanical Islam takes matters to absurd level in this respect since some Islamic texts encourage Muslim women to be covered completely looking like boring masquerades irrespective of the weather conditions. Born-again Christians who insist on women dressing “decently” often cite the biblical text which proclaims that the human body is wonderfully made by God, without realising that such a claim can also be used to support wearing of bikinis by women. Of course, mortuary attendants and medical personnel in the Accident and Emergency (A&E) units of hospitals know that the claim about human bodies being wonderfully made is false or, more precisely, a hyperbole. But because traditional sexual taboo morality has taught people to believe that there is something special about breasts and buttocks, about the dignity of chastity and abstinence, most woman overreact when a man touches those parts of their bodies. Overall, conventional sexual morality derived from religion, by concentrating too much on sexual intercourse, emasculates human sexuality by neglecting the important emotional interpenetration and shared life experiences that actually enrich copulation and make it fulfilling and worthwhile. Religion, especially Christianity and Islam, poisons everything, especially sex, invests it with fear, cruelty and guilt feelings, divests it of those higher emotions that make sexual compatibility one of the most satisfying outcomes of intimacy by adult human beings, such that it is impossible to build a rational sex ethic based on scriptures.


Definitely, it is foolish and disrespectful to touch the breast or buttocks of a woman one is not romantically involved with – even sometimes our wives and lovers may not want to be touched in those places. Let us say it without equivocation: properly trained men know they have an obligation to respect women and not to treat their bodies anyhow as sex objects because only psychologically immature and stupid men go about touching women that are not emotionally connected to them. Still, the point must be stressed that when a man touches the easily accessible erotogenous parts of a woman’s body, it is unwise for her to react very angrily as if heaven has fallen, as if something extremely terrible has happened. After all, it could be harmless flirtation or play, and the breast or derriére has not been damaged in any way. Women often make Mount Kilimanjaro out of a molehill of playful flirtation, which is one of the unfortunate outcomes of conventional sexual morality. In this connection, I suggest that when a man touches a woman inappropriately, she should not allow anger make her overreact. Rather, she should simply ask the lecher sarcastically, “What have you gained by touching me?” If the man is reasonable, he ought to be ashamed of his rascality and apologise. I know that there are many unreasonable irritating men in the world unduly controlled by testosterone, and it is not easy for a woman to be calm all the time towards unwanted sexual advances, especially when manifested repeatedly in a physically brash and impudent manner. That said, to avoid unnecessary escalation that might lead to something worse, women should use wisdom in handling sexual harassment. Many girls have successfully outwitted foolish lecherous men by deploying creative imagination, to the point that they eventually became good friends. To be concluded.


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