Studies of female sexuality in Africa tend to adopt an instrumental approach, many times problematizing sexual conduct in relation to HIV infection and/or reproduction. This study aimed to explore sexuality as a relational concept. Using interviews and participant observation, the paper shows how sexuality becomes a point of self-identification for young professional women in Nairobi between 20 and 30 years-old. These women form a group who implicitly and explicitly criticize conventional gender roles through the overt pursuit of sexual pleasure as recognition of their womanhood. This aspect of the feminine sense of self is at odds with normative notions of femininity. To avoid criticism for being 'un-proper', women adopt a deferential attitude towards men. The focus on upwardly mobile professional women and their experiments with new types of heterosexual relations in dating provides insight into both sexuality and gender.
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