Aphrodisiacs, phallic competence, and dominant masculinity

Daniel Yaw Fiaveh, Centre for Men's Health and Sex Studies, Ghana
Michael Kweku Okyerefo, University of Ghana
Clara Korkor Fayorsey, University of Ghana

We explore how aphrodisiacs influence the construction of phallic competence and masculinity using in-depth interviews with 20 women and 16 men in a suburb of Accra, Ghana. Specifically, we explore women and men’s conceptions of aphrodisiacs and phallic competence, how women negotiate male use of the former to achieve the latter, and implications of aphrodisiacs for masculinity. The media comprise key sources of knowledge about aphrodisiacs (locally brewed gins, hard liquor, and traditional medicines). Two main reasons emerged why men who used aphrodisiacs did so: to proof and or showcase ‘real’ masculinity, perceived in terms of phallic competence (the ability to sustain erection, to prolong sex, and to enhance female sexual pleasure); and female engagement with masculinity. Phallic competence was expressed in varied ways and depends on relationship dynamics and age. Phallic ‘incompetence’ can dislocate masculinity. Demystify beliefs that reinforce pressure on men as sexual performers and highlight men’s health.

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Presented in Session 24: Sex and Sexuality in Africa II