Sex, STIs and gender

The various roles men and women are expected to play, also referred to as gender roles, are much more strictly defined in certain ethnic groups than in others. Do you wonder what macho behaviour is? Ever heard of a female condom? And what if a woman is attracted to another woman? Or a man to another man?

Male-female relations

In many cultures, male-female relationships are clearly defined, in which the male is usually the boss and the woman plays a submissive role. The man is often the family breadwinner, whereas the woman has children, looks after them and does the housework. What you are supposed to do as a man or a woman also has an impact on your relationship. Sex is often a difficult subject. For example, many women have never learnt to talk about using condoms, whereas using a condom is a good way of protecting yourself against STIs and unplanned pregnancies.


Macho behaviour?

Men are generally expected to be tough and strong. Men often view it as normal or accepted to have several sexual contacts or partners. Whereas a woman who has several sexual contacts is more likely to be seen as promiscuous or bad. Violence against women by men occurs in all cultures. Women are often dependent on men and cannot or are afraid to say ‘no’ if they don’t want to have sex, for example, or if the man refuses to wear a condom.

But what about turning this on its head by saying that a man is touch and macho if he takes responsibility. By getting tested, by using a condom and by protecting his sexual partner. A man who looks after his wife and family is a tough man. He doesn’t walk away from his responsibility.

Female condom

The female condom is a good way for a woman to be in control of her sex life. This condom is a small bag made of plastic with two rings attached. One ring is inserted into the end of the vagina and the other stays outside the body, against the labia. You can insert the female condom well in advance and it protects against STIs, including HIV. This means that as a woman you are not dependent on whether or not a man is prepared to use a condom.Tips and tricks on condom use and aninstruction video


If you are attracted to other women

In a culture in which male and female roles are traditionally defined, it is particularly difficult if you find that you are attracted to other women. You think that you are doing something wrong or that you are bringing dishonour to your family. You probably think that you are the only person with these feelings and that you have nobody to talk to. This isn’t true: women are attracted to other women in all cultures. 

If you are attreacted to other men

In a traditional society intimacy, love and sex among men is usually not talked about. For this reason sex between men is more often practised unsafe with higher risk of STIs and HIV.