Finally! I got to speak with the man behind the undoubtedly powerful article ‘5 mistakes women make’, an article that has raised diverse views and opinions. Ekene Agabu is a writer and speaker. He is also the President of A. R. Life Productions, an enterprise under which he works hard to, amongst other initiatives, communicate his message to young people between ages 12 and 35, motivating them towards positive, self-respecting decisions on their sexuality.
His message is simple. “SEX IS RESPONSIBILITY”.
Here we go!
How difficult has it been communicating the message “sex is responsibility” in an age where sex is the norm?
You know it hasn’t been difficult communicating it the way I do but it was difficult getting to that point. I knew what I wanted to do but, I looked around and said, you know what, I don’t just want to be one of the other people who have gone around taking about sex. So it took a while for me to really discover how I was going to go about it. That’s where the challenge was. Once I figured that out, communicating it has not been difficult because, in all honesty, nobody wants to get hurt, we all want to be proud of ourselves and be happy. Those are some of the things we all want so I approach what I say or write from that universal standpoint.
Tell us about the beginning of A. R. Life Productions and the choice of message. This is a topic a lot of people shy away from and your passion to teach it continually amazes me. Where’s that passion from?
Whao. I won’t say I picked it. I kind of feel like it picked me. I didn’t sit down one day and say, you know what, this is what I’m going to do. It was like a discovery. I observed myself and observed what was coming out of me. That’s the best way I can describe it. I realized I had a lot of female friends I would talk to and along our conversations, questions would always come up and I always gave answers; but it wasn’t just that I was giving answers. I noticed that people understood what I was saying and this might be a little bigger than I thought. That’s how it started. I’ve always had a passion for sex. But when I say “a passion for sex” people think I have a passion for the act. Not the act, but the person behind the act. I have a passion for the relationship part of it; how it affects people, how it hurts people. I am drawn to it. I could be falling asleep and once something about sex or relationship comes up, I’ll wake up. So it wasn’t something I sat down and chose; it was something I discovered about myself. The organization A. R. Life is a parent company for all the work that I do. A. R is the acronym for my name.
What is The Virgin Project about?
I’ll tell you how I started that and why. I noticed that a lot of people had misconceptions on the word virgin and it was “oh you are a wimp”, “oh you are not cool”, “oh, you haven’t done it yet”, like you have something wrong with you. The word ‘virgin’ is about whom you are and how you carry yourself. For example people who drink alcohol know this: when you go to a bar or restaurant and say you want a virgin pina colada that means you want a pina colada in its true state; you don’t want anything that has been spiked. I wanted to communicate to people that being a virgin is about being in your true state and not allowing people to spike you. So what we have a lot of people doing is hopping around from one person to the next getting spiked, getting infected and they don’t know who they are in their true state. So I created The Virgin Project to get out there to the schools to let people know that it’s important to be in your true state and have value for yourself. When you do that, you are in a better position to give yourself to someone. We focus on younger adults and we give talks in school districts within and outside the Maryland area, wherever we can go. As my schedule allows, that’s what keeps us busy with The Virgin Project.
One of your quotes says “Love. Respect. Friendship. Commitment. Then Sex”. If you rearrange those words you do have someone else’s story and for many people the reality yields a totally different mix. How can couples who have done this wrongly fix their relationship rather than exiting it?
When you say couples are you talking about people who are dating or people who are married?
I’m talking about people who are dating but since you brought up the marriage part I guess there’s something to address there. But first, people who are dating. They just got the whole thing wrong but they want to maintain that relationship and work things out.
Usually when people are dating, in a relationship or not yet married I suggest that the focus should not be on trying to save the relationship. It should be on trying to save yourself. By saving yourself you’ll figure out if you were the right person in the first place, because a lot of times when the order is messed up like you said, we jump into sex too soon, we find ourselves being attached to people we have no business being with. You could be dating this guy and you know he’s not good for you but now you are attached. You want to leave, you want to break up but you can’t. I don’t want to help you stay in that mess if you should be out of it. I want to help you save yourself and get everything into perspective. Love, respect, friendship, commitment. Split those up into two. Love and respect is for you. Love is how you carry yourself and how you see yourself. Respect is the expression of that love in the world. In other words, because you have love for yourself, you carry yourself in a respectable manner. When people see you, they have respect for you because you love yourself. Now when you have love and respect, you’ll be a good friend to someone. So whoever you get involved with, you are not getting involved with them to take advantage of them, but to share the love and respect you have for yourself with them. Taking that a step further, as someone who has love, respect and can be a good friend, it would be very easy for you to be committed to someone totally. Then you can have sex. What I’ll advice any lady or guy is to get those priorities right in your life. If you are in a sexual relationship where everything is fuzzy and hazy just hit the breaks and take time off for yourself. Tell your partner you two can still date but no sex, let’s try that for six months and see what happens. I’m telling you, most times if one person is there for the wrong reasons they’ll be gone by the time the six months is over. But you owe it to yourself as an individual to get your priorities straight because when they are not straight, you invite the wrong kind of people and wrong situations.
Now on the married part: Honestly, I’m not married so I kind of try to avoid discussing marriage. But a marriage is still a relationship and 80% of the time, the marriage has kids. I’ll just say you owe it to yourselves to be your best and if things have been done in the wrong order, let your priority be to get yourself together as an individual and hopefully that will respect the union you have with your partner, instead of just doing things anyhow and hoping that things will just work out. As an individual you come first, and then getting things in order is very important.
Do you think many people still do not think there is a correlation between their sexual behavior and the reality of HIV/AIDS? A lot of people think, “Com’on this can’t happen to me. It’s for that truck driver who goes from Lagos to Kano and picks up girls by the road”.
You know what I’ve observed? Most people do not think about HIV/AIDS but I’ll tell you what’s more disturbing…….you are talking about people like us right? Young professionals?
What I think is more disturbing is that we somehow disconnect our sexual behavior to HIV and AIDS. We think that because we are using condoms everything will be fine. So when the disease shows up we seem shocked, in denial (enkay: he actually said “naa…..never!”). In our heads we think we are secured. It’s like saying I am going to walk in the rain with a raincoat and not get wet. But the possibility of getting wet is still there. People think HIV is so far away from them so whatever decision they make is fine. If you have a habit of being promiscuous, I can assure you there’s going to be one time your feelings are going to make a demand on you and you are not going to have a condom. So I have noticed that disconnect among people like us.
Does this come up a lot in your talks?
Yes it does. One of the things I want people to understand is that there are no shortcuts. It’s important that we have respect for ourselves and value our bodies because everything stems from how we see ourselves. Think about it. If I value myself, I’ll take care of my body, eat right and work out. If you don’t have value for yourself you are going to do things that will run down your body. Things have to come to a point where putting your body in the arms or every other person is not acceptable. AIDS is like “you blew it!” Have value for yourself. It’ll lead you on a totally different path instead of us playing the game of not getting HIV or AIDS. That’s usually how it comes up in my talks.
How early should sexual education start in the home and in the school; and in what form?
That’s a good question. I’ll tell you about the home. What should start in the home is not particularly sexual education, but good parenting. And that should start from the moment the child is born. I’ll give you an example. Most young girls, age nine, ten, twelve become teenagers and start experimenting. When a young girl starts experimenting, she’s not doing it because she is horny and wants to have sex, but to be acceptable to some boy who said he loves her. But if her parents have really shown her what love is, she’s less likely to fall into that trap. So the first step in sexual education at home is to love and be there for your kids, especially your daughters. If you are an absentee father and just wake up one day to talk about sex with your daughter, you are wasting your time. Sex is not what she needs to hear about. She needs to know that she is loved and is special. I don’t think any girl starts off as a slut, they dabble into sex and get attached to that.
When a girl is now of age, she’s twelve, thirteen, fourteen, her body starts changing and she is aware of boys and all, you need to talk to her and explain the philosophy of responsibility and respect, goals and dreams, doing things at the right time not because daddy said so, not because God said so, but because she is special and deserves it.
In the schools, I have no problems with schools going further, being biological and showing body parts, talking STDs and contraceptives. That’s fine. If that child has heard the basic principles to understand who they are at home, they can then navigate through whatever they are taught in school. I hear parents complain about what’s taught in school. What you don’t do at home is more detrimental than what anyone is doing to your kid in school. I don’t believe schools are screwing up kids. I think absent parents are what’s screwing up kids.
In your article ‘5 mistakes women make’, you stated that you were skeptical about publishing it because you felt you might come across as judgmental to some women. Did you foresee men feeling misrepresented by the article?
Honestly, when I was writing the article I wasn’t thinking about men.
But I’ll tell you this, if it rubs a man the wrong way he has to go and look in the mirror. Don’t you want women to get what they deserve? Don’t you want them to be valued, honored, live lives of respect? I’m a man too and as men we have a responsibility not to take advantage of everything we see even if there’s an opening. We have to step up, love and protect our women. I really wasn’t thinking about men when I was writing the article.
One of the views expressed has been that men go through this as well and have also been used by women.
When women go through this it dominates their lives. When a man goes through it, it doesn’t dominate his life. A man can compartmentalize his life. He has his business, his house, his car. If a woman’s relationship and family are not right, she doesn’t feel ok. So these issues affect us differently.
To learn more about Ekene Agabu’s work, visit www.SexIsR.com