'masculinities and sexual practices among young men in Freetown, Sierra Leone' Paper at Doing Sex, Men and Masculinities Conference. Newcastle. 13 & 14 July 2017.


Bambrusing, bossing, sexing, romancing: masculinities and sexual practices among young men in Freetown, Sierra Leone


Through accompanying members of the ‘Eat as You Can’ social club in Freetown in their dayto-day lives, this paper examines conceptions of masculinities and sexual practices among young men in Sierra Leone and explores the interconnection between material, cultural and social conditions and various sexual practices. There, young men adapt to generational tensions, social and economic limitations as well as the post-conflict, post-pandemic environment with improvised modes of urban sociality and expressive negotiations over living sex and doing sex. The members of ‘Eat as You Can’ look with sarcastic clarity at the economic and social boundaries of their lives which they feel are not flexible, but rigid and, if not for a miracle, permanent. As self-ascribed idlers but well-off enough to cover their basic needs, doing sex is one of the main foci of their daily routines.

This paper contributes to the rich body on sexual practices by shedding light on mechanisms of production of masculinities through the lens of sexuality. It examines how conceptions of manhood are developed, sustained, contradicted and transformed during young men’s lives through examining how sexual practices are lived between society’s ideals, dominant local conceptions of femininity and masculinity, peer groups, familial expectations, personal experiences and aspirations. Young men develop sexual identities, through experimenting with sexual practices. Drawing from proverbs and sayings in the local language, Krio, the paper explores the ways in which young men position themselves in society through their various sexual practices such as transactional encounters, same-sex relationships, polygamous practices, rough sex like ‘bambrusing’, hasty sexing or romancing a lover. Through highlighting how they negotiate their sexuality in their terms relating to trends, traditions and taboos, the paper explores various sexual practices in their cultural and social context.

Keywords: doing sex, sexual identities, masculinities, improvised modes of urban sociality, youth, Sierra Leone


Doing Sex: Men, Masculinity and Sexual Practices.

Organised by Newcastle University.

Newcastle. 13 & 14 July, 2017.

link to Doing Sex homepage.

Panel reference: Panel 6, Thursday July 13, 2017 11.45am - 1.00pm. Room 2.22, Moderator Frank Karioris

Panel Title: City and Sex.