Patriarchy establishes male dominance in society, and power is often associated with masculinity, so we’re assuming that it is male. However, the way Nigerian society is structured and the willingness of Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer women to live in the margins of this society does not come without a price.
How? You ask. I will tell you…
We often hear about the heteronomativity culture being imbibed in the LGBTQI community. However, it is one of the reasons why Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer women face oppression from patriarchy, which manifests itself in many ways. Most importantly, it affects our relationships with other people and how we relate to ourselves – through our sexuality or gender identity.
Let’s understand heteronormativity…
Coined in the 1980s as the “dominant ideology,” It is explained as everything heterosexuality and all its privileges over other forms of sexual orientations. It imposes heteronomative values and beliefs on other people who do not identify as heterosexual. i.e., there are only two genders (male and female) and society’s expectations of these genders.
In Nigeria, heteronomativity plays a huge role in the lives of most lesbians, bisexuals, and queer women. For example, the cisgender masculine-presenting lesbians, popularly known as “Stud” or “Tomboy,” find solace in a masculine identity through gender expression. Also, transgender men who do not conform to the gender binary are on this spectrum. Remember, we assume power is associated with masculinity, so they are automatically placed under male dominance. Therefore, they are expected to live by, behave, and act by social norms of society standards.
In intimate relationships, feminine-presenting lesbians or bisexuals attracted to masculine-presenting lesbians and transgender men are routinely forced to pick one of two gender options, assume that gender role, thus giving birth to toxic masculinity and femininity.
With toxic masculinity and femininity, social norms of entitlement create power differences between the gender binary, such as portraying femininity as weaker beings, sexual objects and believing in strict gender stereotypes. It also comes in suppressing emotion that allows anger, contempt, and pride.
Let me show you the signs of toxic masculinity and femininity in an LBQ relationship.
- When a feminine-presenting lesbian or bisexual has to be submissive, undemanding, and nurturing (must do all house chores).
- Masculine-presenting lesbian should be the “man” in the relationship and should provide everything for the relationship.
- When a masculine-presenting lesbian or Transgender man is emotionally, financially, and domestically abusive to their intimate partners.
- When sex has rules and roles between LBQ intimate partners, that may lead to sexual assaults.
- Disassociating you from family, friends, and people in general in the name of jealousy.
To my fellow Nigerian Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgender, and Queer folks, I have a few pieces of advice I want to share with you.
- Remember your body belongs to YOU and not your partner.
- Be okay to acknowledge where you stand in that relationship.
- Have tough conversations. Talk to your partner. Do your best not to get defensive, and really listen to how your actions have impacted them. You might be surprised that certain things you did or said came across differently from how you intended.
Most Importantly, You are valid in all your diverse selves!!!