Paradox of female sexuality and gender identityParadox of female sexuality and gender identity
Traditionally, individual sexuality was dealt with step by step in conformity with male/female physiological and psychological development, through various rites of initiation and an elaborate system of gendered socialisation. Learning about sexuality was mostly a collective event organized by age groups and led by an elder. This formal teaching about sexuality is progressively disappearing in many parts of the country. However, the underlying perception of the individual life cy­cle as an upward scale of events is still omnipresent. A person is seen as not need – [111]

Paradox of female sexuality and gender identityParadox of female sexuality and gender identityArnfred Page 180 Wednesday, March 3, 2004 2:38 PM

Assitan Diallo

ing much information or even autonomy at an early age, while allowed to exercise self-agency and leadership in old age. Marriage is the dividing line on this contin­uum. Consequently, there is a conceptualisation of sexual behaviour as being im­mature and disrespectful before marriage, and it as afterward presumed to be at its full potentials and legitimised by its conjugal functions. This vision of individ­ual sexuality explains the existence of parallel systems that are complementary means of managing individual sexuality at different periods in the lifespan. Hence, nuptial advising and the practice of excision have the common objective of estab­lishing a normative sexual behaviour, which aims at preserving the established so­cial order. Individuals might ignore the incentives and actions taking place, but it is all part of a well-structured system set up to assert social identity and collective welfare. The praised social values of self-discipline and accountability in individ­ual behaviour help in keeping secret and taboo a lot of information, and tasks per­formed in society.