19 Jan Sex and the Samoan Woman

Back when I was a teacher at a high school here in Samoa, I attended a workshop for English teachers at which they gave out a list of texts recommended for studying with  senior students. I noted that a favourite author of mine was missing from the list, so I asked if Sia Figiel’s books could be included – ‘Where we Once Belonged’ and ‘Girl in the Moon Circle.’

The room went quiet and the co-ordinator gave me a look. She said, “Of course you’re welcome to use her books in the classroom, but a true tama’ita’i Samoa ( a real Samoan woman) would not want to read such things or talk about them with students.”  Everyone shook their heads vehemently in agreement, throwing me sideways glances of disdainful shock, ewww I can’t believe you even asked that question!

I was embarrassed, very young and very new to the teaching profession. So I didn’t argue or even ask why.  I assumed it must be because Figiel’s book contains sex and graphic (rich) descriptions of a woman’s body (including her vagina).  As well as mentions of incest, and the shattering effects of child abuse.

I wanted to ask why Albert Wendt’s book was on the list – when he’s also a Samoan who writes books with sex in them. Or why ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was on the list – when it has racism and rape in it. Or why Macbeth is on the list  – when it has mass murder and witchcraft in it. Or why…

I could go on, but hopefully you get the point.

I didnt ask. I said nothing.

But I did go back to my classroom and introduce my students to Figiel’s work anyway. And just like I knew they would – they loved it.

That’s not the only time I’ve had people shudder and #yuckFace about Figiel’s books, specifically the sex. Another time, a woman refused to send her daughter to a workshop for young writers because Figiel was going to be the keynote speaker. “The woman writes about vaginas on the first few pages of her book and says the F word a lot. No way will I allow my daughter to go.” Another time, a university lecturer talked about her unwillingness to touch Figiel’s work in her classes, because of the ‘unnecessary sexuality’.  (Because sex is unnecessary, didn’t you know? Especially in Samoan literature. )

These are all examples from a local Samoan context. And from some years  ago. Perhaps its different now. I hope so, but I doubt it.

Figiel’s books are studied in many countries, especially whenever Pacific Literature is being critiqued.  I find it quite telling that a landmark work like Figiel’s, doesnt seem to be more widely read among those who she writes about. And when it is read, I’m intrigued by the responses to the sex (in all its forms and expressions in the books, both positive and negative) from Samoan women and men.

I know that when Albert Wendt’s first books came out, they were banned in a few places. People were shocked about some of the material – Im guessing the sex was a big part of that. Perhaps time has helped to lessen the discomfort for local teachers who might want to take on reading and discussing his books with their students? Or perhaps it’s easier to cope with sex and intimacy when its written from a male perspective?

What does it tell us when we are more accepting of a Samoan man writing a sex scene – then we are about a Samoan woman writing sex, writing about a woman’s body, naming and detailing a vagina for example? Or when a palagi writes about sex/love/romance – does that make it more acceptable literary study material?

What are some of our prevailing attitudes towards sex and the Samoan woman that might underlie this? A couple of examples that stand out for me – as summed up by social media…

1. The Teuila Blakely ‘sex tape’. The most virulent and hateful reactions to an adult, single Samoan woman engaging in a sex act with an adult, single Tongan man – were from the Pasifika community in NZ. Many  Samoans there fell over themselves in their eager haste to condemn Ms Blakely for

a. dating a much younger man

b. having oral sex in a car

c. Either allowing her date to film the act OR being too focused on the activity that she didnt notice she was being filmed

d. Not being sorry enough  or repentant enough when her date shared it on social media

The disgust and antagonism for Ms Blakely as a Samoan woman who appeared  confident and    unashamed about her sexuality and her  choices in the bedroom (or in the car), did not seem to extend to the Tongan man who had been a co-participant. Even when  it was apparent the creep man had violated her trust by sharing the tape. People slammed her for being a poor example of a tama’ita’i Samoa, for bringing shame on the Samoan community, and for being that most lethal of Samoan designations, a pa’umuku, a slut. They said she should have been at home with her son, being a ‘good mother.’  A few said quite blatantly, “She should just die.” The degree of viciousness and hate was disturbing.

Whether or not we agree with the choice some people make to film themselves doing sex-things, why is it that we are so outraged by a Samoan woman who chooses to have sex and likes it?

2. The domestic violence case involving Brian Lima and Sina Retzlaff. When Ms Retzlaff went public with the assault and a photograph of her bruised face made headlines, there was an outpouring of support and outrage on her behalf. There was also strong condemnation of her.  For speaking out and ‘airing their dirty laundry’ thus bringing shame on both families involved. Disapproval also came from those who said she deserved it because when the attack occurred, she was out on a date with another man. Ms Retzlaff and her ex-husband had been divorced for two years, but still critics blasted her on social media because, “she should be at home looking after her children” and “not going out having sex with other men”. (Never mind that the attack happened in a public place, outside a restaurant and nobody was having sex of any kind.)

The dynamics of domestic violence aside, I took particular note of those who criticized Ms Retzlaff for what they viewed as her sexually promiscuous behaviour. People cited her dating, as a divorced woman with children – as evidence that she “deserved” to get beaten up by her ex-husband. They delighted in pointing out that her date was a younger man. They implied Ms Retzlaff had been an unfaithful wife when she was married – more evidence she “deserved” to get beaten up. They said she was a pa’umuku, a slut. Someone said, “She should just die.”

Again, the degree of viciousness and hate was disturbing.

Again the double standard was evident. Nobody raised questions about Lima’s sexual conduct, either when he was married or in the years since. Nobody asked why he wasnt at home looking after his children.

Im reminded of a dear friend who, when she found out her husband was having an affair, was comforted by her mother, “Thats what men do. Dont worry about that other woman. You’re the one he’s married to, the one living in his house, the mother of his children. He only goes to her for sex. Because he has needs. You’re the wife.”

What attitudes towards sex and the Samoan woman are evident here? About what is “acceptable” for a Samoan man vs a Samoan woman? About what a wife ‘provides’ vs a lover #onTheSide?

What about for our fa’afafine sisters? Do they have the same expectations and codes of sexual conduct within our cultural context? I’ve seen a kind of envious awe from other Samoan women towards fa’afafine because ‘you can get away with so much more than we do!’ and ‘I wish I could be as flamboyant and fierce as you’ and ‘you get the best of both worlds’. But do they really?

I’m grateful to live in a country where fa’afafine are generally accepted and celebrated. (At least more so than in other countries.) Yet, while we have a more fluid view of gender than most of the palagi world, Christianity has done a good job at demonizing those who dont fit a rigid gender binary. The Bible’s take on homosexuality is quoted often. Yes, a woman can be villified for having any kind of sex outside the approved parameters (in a car with somebody much younger than you AND youre not married is a HELL NO!) But at least there’s some approved parameters for her to #getHerFreakOn. Fa’afafine dont have any. At least not according to our Christianized Samoan culture.

I’ve seen the heartache of some of my fa’afafine sisters as they are sexually objectified all while being treated as ‘less than’ or ‘incomplete’ because of who they are. I know of many Samoan men who have sex with a fa’afafine and then say – that doesnt count as cheating on their partner/wife because “she’s not a real woman…she’s just a fa’afafine.” Such dehumanizing is not only hurtful – it’s dangerous. It contributes to callous discrimination against fa’afafine and even violence. It needs to stop.

In today’s Samoan cultural context (whether here or abroad),  does a woman/fa’afafine have the right to be a sensual being who celebrates and enjoys her body and all her body is capable of feeling? How do we as Samoans, feel about a woman/fa’afafine’s right to choose who she has sex with, the kind of sex she has, and when and where she has that sex? And how do we make sure we’re getting the right messages across to our young people as they seek to navigate turbulent emotions and powerful relationships – often without any guidance from parents who cant/wont talk about #sexStuff or #loveStuff or #bodyStuff?

As a mother, these questions are important to me as I try to raise daughters and sons who can treat others with respect regardless of what/who they are in this rainbow LGBT world, and who can make informed decisions about when/where/who to have healthy, fun and fabulous sex relationships with.

As a writer, these things are important to me, particularly as I create characters that (I hope) are multi-faceted, authentic and believable. Characters who have rich, messy and messed up relationships with others. In characters like Leila, Simone, Matile, Nafanua and Pele, I have tried to portray a diverse range of Samoan women in contemporary Samoa. Women who love and are loved, women who have different attitudes towards their sexuality. Mindful that Im not fa’afafine and cant know or understand firsthand what it is to be a young fa’afafine like Simone – I was apprehensive about writing her, but it was essential to have her voice in the TELESA Series and I hope I did her character justice. My next novel is not Young Adult. Its contemp romance with lots of tangled Samoan family drama and contains mature themes. In other words, its got love, sex, lies, loss and too much laughter in it. It’s been a whole new world of challenge for me to write this latest book.

It can be a struggle to write with honesty (particularly when love and sex are involved) and I can only write a “single story.” There are many other perspectives and theres no one true definition for what is a ‘real tama’ita’i Samoa’. My characters are not representative of an entire country or culture and it would be a mistake for anyone to expect them to be. (A plug there for more Samoan women to hurry up and write novels.)

Back to stories. And sex. And what do they have to do with each other?

Its vital that we can see ourselves represented in the stories around us – whether in our media or in our literature. Stories created by us, for us and about us can be powerful, especially when theres a range of complex stories that encompass the good and the bad. And everything in between.

Yes, we can be wives, mothers, sisters and daughters, matriarchs and matai. We also can be abused and the abusers, rape victims, child abuse survivors, battered wives, mothers who encourage sons to beat their partners, friends who tell you to perpetually forgive the perpetually cheating husband, and grandmothers who berate 13yr olds who get pregnant from their uncles.

But we are also sensual beings with sexual and emotional needs and desires. Some of us enjoy sex. Some of us dont. Some of us have amazing sex – all by ourselves. Some of us want to have sex – and cant. Because age or health or religion says no. Some of us are really good at it and luxuriate in engaging in all sorts of enticing and intricate techniques. Some of us dont. Some of us never find a person we want to be in the same room with – let alone have sex with. Some of us only have sex with other women. Some of us only have sex with men – like with boyfriends, husbands and lovers. (Sometimes we have sex with other people’s boyfriends, husbands and lovers.) Sometimes we make stupid choices and have sex when we shouldnt. Or with someone that we know we’ll regret. Some of us commit to one person – and its awful. Some of us commit to only ever having sex with one person for the rest of our lives – and it’s beautiful and so worth it.

And you know what? All of these are true for our fa’afafine sisters. And for men. So can we please stop with that rubbish about ‘Men have needs…its harder for men to control their sexual urges…men want it more than women…he did that because her dress was so revealing and immodest so he couldnt control himself…its too difficult for a man to be faithful to one woman because of his NEEDS… Everybody’s got needs dammit. Learn how to control yo’self and let’s all stop making excuses for shitty behaviour.

The list of sex people possibilities and experiences is endless. And yet, we are given so few of these varied stories in our literature and our media. Especially for women and fa’afafine. When there is only a limited and limiting representation of Samoan women – we continue to perpetuate harmful stereotypes and attitudes – which then play out in intimate partner relationships, in often very damaging ways.

We need more Samoan women writing books, blogs and poems. Making art, plays and films. Im thrilled to know several Samoan women who are working to complete their first novels, like Caroline Hunt, Sisilia Eteuati and Sita Leota. And Im excited about the ongoing success of South Seas Pictures which is telling powerful Samoan stories, like the film NOFOTANE and many more.

We need to see the many different realities of Samoan women’s experiences, represented and challenged. The norms and underlying attitudes questioned. Because as Chimamanda Adichie so beautifully expressed, in her TED talk, ‘The Danger of the Single Story’ :

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story… Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize.”

To all my Samoan sister storytellers out there, wherever you may be – Im looking at you. Be brave enough to question, challenge and re-define what it means to be Samoan women or fa’afafine. Speak your truth.Take control of the narratives about us and our sexuality, our intimate partner relationships – in all their rich diversity of experience. Tell stories, lots of different stories. Stories that will help empower and humanize.

35 Comments
  • penny craig
    Reply

    you are so right in all aspects I don’t know if they will accept that kind of literature or resort to keeping it under the rug…..our children are not living in the dark ages anymore..

    January 19, 2015 at 6:55 am
  • vaee
    Reply

    Its sad but true in all aspects of sex , relationships, emotional and physical needs written in books by Samoan woman are touchy subjects. I don’t know why among our church community and society display it as if taboo. Smh.

    January 19, 2015 at 7:04 am
  • Sole Alexander (AlexanderMasame)
    Reply

    very good article. definitely a double standard. nice work lani. 🙂

    January 19, 2015 at 8:12 am
  • That was a great read Lani. Its sad to say that your post is true in all aspects. I reckon culture has really played a big role in all this and that it has its pro’s and con’s. Reality is just sad!

    January 19, 2015 at 7:43 pm
  • Emma Arasi
    Reply

    Oh Lani. I love this. You talk so openly about sex (an area that’s so awkward to bring up in our Samoan community) I love that it’s so straight-forward and simple yet it’s such a complicated topic(s) to talk about. Keep writing! #Inspired

    January 19, 2015 at 10:40 pm
  • princess Auvaa
    Reply

    Lani that was a great read. So much truth in your words. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for speaking out.

    #inspired

    January 20, 2015 at 7:13 am
  • Stephen Purcell
    Reply

    mean & well thought out, topical subject Lani. My first thought was that this should have been around for the vitriol during Teuila’s unfortunate drama & that was going to be my comment. But then, boom, it was your #1 example. And big ups for #2 as well. Hypocrisy is everywhere alright despite the old adage of ‘People & Glass Houses. Oh well, live & hopefully learn. Keep on keeping on & Increase the Peace..

    January 20, 2015 at 8:07 am
  • TeRata
    Reply

    Lelei. I am not a women or Samoan.. But I really really connect with the honesty in this. Fa’afetai Lava

    January 20, 2015 at 9:50 am
    • Anonymous
      Reply

      What nationality are you?

      June 3, 2015 at 12:16 pm
  • Liana Leilua
    Reply

    The correlations of your writing can be seen in many Samoan families. Many Samoan men have fathered children OUTSIDE their marriages, and as a result of this frequency, it’s not even given a double take. But GOD FORBID, a woman should have ‘bastard’ children. Furthermore, when teens fall pregnant, it’s usually the males that receive familial support, whilst the female is forced from the family home.
    It’s so disheartening to see such inconsistencies within such a wondrously diverse people, and it goes to show just how regressive as well as restrictive Samoan attitudes can be.

    January 20, 2015 at 12:35 pm
  • Gail L.E
    Reply

    “To all my Samoan sister storytellers out there, wherever you may be – Im looking at you. Be brave enough to question, challenge and re-define what it means to be Samoan women or fa’afafine. Speak your truth.” Your last words are very encouraging to those who are not only writers but those who always try and still working on fighting about what is right for our Samoan Culture. Adding new ingredients won’t hurt..

    You are one bravest samoan female writer i know…. Great job breaking down every detail of concern on how come, why not, what if, or who could write and why not write anything about sex life itself. Its one of the simple and sensitive subject in our Samoan culture… i always ask myself why???? when this young generation are introducing themselves close door to sex life and our DOE are against educating students in elementary or high school about this subject…. awesome explanation between authors and real life stories…..

    i love your book and i love how you speak out and speak the truth and you are one supporting sister to your fellow writers doesn’t matter who they are.

    Bless you.

    January 20, 2015 at 1:38 pm
  • everyone is entitle to his or her opinion, I support Sia’s writing and books for learning in high school… majority of people when they see the word “sex” automatically book or writing work is view in a negative sexuality point. and will not be recommended by them due to individual personal decision. and believe me it is not the Samoan culture, it is the person it’s self. thank you for your sharing,,, and God bless

    January 20, 2015 at 6:56 pm
  • Flora G Luafutu
    Reply

    Great article Lani! I’m always looking forward to reading your articles, very open minded and there’s so much truth in your words. Topic is very interesting and I hope that Samoan people are more than willing to educate their children on this, some tend to be very TOUCHY but this is actually very TRUE!

    January 21, 2015 at 9:31 am
  • Dawn K. Wasson
    Reply

    Excellent article about sex and the Samoan people concept of what children should learn or not. Parents basically feel uncomfortable in teaching and who are they suppose to learn from. I raised four son’s and my husband was so embarrassed to teach them. I showed films about the body parts and its functions and the changes they will experience as their body develops. What stumped them was the word “insert.” When you insert the penis into the vagina. One of my son’s saw two dogs having sex but he explained, “look at that dog making shishi in the other dog.” Of course I explained. I went to teach responsibility when such action occurs. But what I did accumulate for over forty years were the short stories of men and women in my community whose lives were affected by actions of sex, marriage, religion and double standards and all the things that human beings encounter throughout their lives. The story of Kilaila who was raped and labeled a pa’amumuku, shamed the family, moved to Hawaii and prostituted herself to feed the family. Or, Loke whose father raped her constantly and lived in fear. She still suffers from those acts psychological and physically. She’s found solace in her religion, does it clear the guilty, not her fault. There’s several acts of incest that are not reported but hidden or whispered by clergy men to their wives and faikakala throughout the community, the girl’s fault. There’s homosexuality among our young boy’s who we love because he chooses his lifestyle but should be respected. In all that you have shared into the Samoan psychic its the personal story and journey about choices we make. Its the outcome. I am seventy years old, afakasi, Samoan mother and a Hawaiian father. I have read Wendt’s and Figuel’s books and loved them. To be honest I had a hard time the beginning of Figuel’s book but got over my Christian/Western indoctrination. I have always loved Wendt’s books. The sex part in his first book shocked me but I got over it and enjoyed the rest of his books. My favorite is “Flying Fox in the Freedom Tree.” I took Wendt’s classes at UH Manoa and wrote 94 poems in one semester and three got published in ‘Oiwi a Hawaiian literary book by Hawaiian’s. I have four Hawaiian children’s books published it’s ok but from stories we learned growing up. In addition I have 228 short stories in rough draft to be completed. I was traveling on three neighbor islands for a month and worried I would oki and not finish the stories left by the Kupuna’s.

    Wendt and Ihimaera are my favorite authors, they inspire me. “Bulibusha” sat on my freezer for over a year and one day I decided to read it. It was an excellent book. Mahalo Ihimaera.
    Keep writing. Tell it like it is let the reader make up their own mind. Knowledge is power.

    January 21, 2015 at 12:13 pm
  • Rosie Manu
    Reply

    I’ve always thought about that. Why do our people keep sex as a secret or makes it seem like it’s not part of life? Sooner or later everyone will get to that stage. Most of the time when it’s brought up, no one wants to talk about it. I guess because we’re build on a very religious respectful culture. Inspired words. Very TRUE !

    January 21, 2015 at 4:59 pm
  • Wow Lani, such an inspirational piece for me, thank you so much. You’ve got me thinking of some story ideas that have been marinating for a while 🙂

    January 22, 2015 at 2:58 am
  • Lia
    Reply

    Love the post 🙂 Although I am not samoan I am married to one and I have to say your article hits home for me in a lot of ways. I can see how double standards apply at times when a relative of my husbands was making passes on me (and still does) and I decided to tell my husbands aiga about it I was automatically labeled a paumuku, It hurt and it still hurts to this day. I have also seen instances were husbands cheat numerous times with multiple women (even relatives of their wives) and never once are they put on blast or called out. But when a woman does it, it becomes a different story. Furthermore What type of examples are we setting for our sons? That its ok to go out and sleep around on your wife? Or that beating up your wife is ok if shes being cheeky or rude? Just some thoughts. Thanks again lani for your wonderful article fa’afetai lava

    January 22, 2015 at 8:34 am
  • Mareta Atanoa
    Reply

    I love this! Thank you for your inspiring words, and words of encouragement and words of truth that goes beyond. I’m writing my own stories as well portraying what I know about my Samoan culture and what comes with it being a women.
    -thank you, keep up the good work!

    January 22, 2015 at 8:48 am
  • Mika
    Reply

    Interesting and where can we read from you more books?online?

    January 22, 2015 at 9:21 am
  • samantha
    Reply

    Good for you! Samoan women need to stand strong. I’ve had abuse from my ex samoan partner for 10 years.. He makes my skin crawl now. Nasty piece of work he is.

    January 22, 2015 at 10:13 am
  • Hobbit
    Reply

    Hi Lani,

    Wow that was most definitely an interesting and unfortunately true piece you wrote. I, myself am a witness to how Samoan women are treated and portrayed in matters involving sex.

    Samoan women are generally raised to be obedient and loyal to whoever their future partner (stop the press if it’s out of wedlock) may be, and at any cost. Whether they are abused, humiliated, shamed, raped, or whatever, is insignificant. Their own families and loved ones will find reasons to find the women at fault.

    It saddens me that the people that they rely on to love them, protect them, and keep them safe from all harm seem to be the ones that condemn, judge and execute them.

    To all the beautiful Samoan women out there who put up with this. You are important. You are allowed to be happy. You are Gods child and He did not create you to be someone’s doormat or to be hurt and abused, (physically or emotionally).

    I used to think that I had to put up with it because of a mistake I made as a child (involving sex), I was condemned by a lot of people until a wise man told me something that changed my life forever.

    Our culture and religion condemn us. We are taught that cheating, or being unfaithful is an unforgiving sin. That as you mentioned by other peoples comments in your article (we are better off being 6ft under). But God, (listen very carefully and pay attention) God gave up his son to pay for our sins, our mistakes. Our God is a loving God, he has not condemned us. We are condemning ourselves. Believe that Jesus paid for our sins then you will find your worth.

    Bless you all xxx

    January 22, 2015 at 11:02 am
  • Alicia Fatialofa
    Reply

    You so hit that nail on it’s hypocritical, ‘double standard’ head, m’love! Love your thoughts… strong and so accurate!
    Awesome! =D

    January 22, 2015 at 11:06 am
  • Pausa Thompson
    Reply

    Good read, but let’s be fair. Don’t you think the examples you provided have more to do with being in the ‘public eye’ more than anything else. Samoan ethical and moral standards are no different than any other indigenous culture of Oceanic people; there are certain standards for females and for males that are distinctly set apart. Then there are standards that are shared between the two. For example, Brian Lima violated the sacredness and one of the oldest set standards for men, which was to protect and not harm the women of his family. He will have to deal with the consequences of those actions for the rest of his life. The effects are felt socially and culturally. Ms. Blakeley, although justifiably defends her personal choice and sexuality, compromised the Samoan standard of a woman and what deems her worthy to be called a Samoan woman(uiga tausa’afia). Contrary to popular understanding, early Samoan’s were actually very open about their sexuality. Sexual innuendo and instruction was passed down to young men and women thru the elders who looked after the aualuma and the aumaga of a village. But even then, there were guidelines and certain standards on how to act in society. And it’s nothing new, it stills exists today in Samoan society. Hence the phrase that applies to both genders- e iloa le Samoa I lona Tu, Savali, Tautala….It is how one Stands, Walks, and Talks that makes them Samoan. It doesn’t just fall into your lap, you work at it in all spheres of life. Granted there are set-backs, but we all have to deal with those set-backs and work harder to become better Samoan’s…that is the beauty of the culture, it is forgiving to those who are humble and heartfelt. I would only suggest that we stray away from always analyzing issues concerning the Samoan ethos through a western lens. It has not been favorable to us in the past, and so let’s not repeat history. Just because Samoans geographically reside in westernized countries (NZ, USA, AUS), does not mean that the culture will abide by those standards. If it’s strong it is bound to be critical when its people choose to live as westerners but remain identified as Samoan’s.

    January 22, 2015 at 12:06 pm
    • Anonymous
      Reply

      It’s a thought but still the outcome of any relationship if it’s harmful or objectionable in any way it’s wrong.

      January 23, 2015 at 4:13 pm
    • Matt
      Reply

      These ‘certain standards of how to act in society’ do not apply to having sex. Two consenting adults engaged in a sex act does not tar the ‘standard of a Samoan woman.’
      The only wrongdoing here is the recording and distributing of the footage.

      January 26, 2015 at 6:26 am
    • Son of Samoan
      Reply

      Yes I heard about women in pre Christian Samoa having absolute autonomy in matters of sexuality so when and why did that change.

      What happened there?

      May 29, 2015 at 3:48 am
    • Anonymous
      Reply

      My mother was Samoan, and my father was white and spoke broken Samoan language. I was born and raised in Samoa, and left for the United States when I turned 19 years old. I have lived in the states for over 30 years, but I still remember the culture and the lifestyles that Samoan people lived by. I got used to living my life as an American, but my fellow Samoan people still criticized my actions just because I’m Samoan. It used to bother me a lot, but I learned to ignore their negativity and their criticism of fia palagi. I am a palagi because my father was white, so I can live my life as a Samoan, or as a palagi. Samoan men took advantage of women, because of the Samoan culture. You should listen and respect your husband no matter what he does. The wife supposed to serve the husband and his family, and so on. Every country have their own lifestyles, and culture to live by. Remember, that lifestyles are changing rapidly as the years gone by. We have to go with the flow, and the changes around us. We get smarter and we learned new things. Thanks Lani for the heads up……

      December 27, 2015 at 8:01 pm
  • sia
    Reply

    Excellent writing.
    I am a Samoan woman married to an African American and we have 2 teenage daughter’s and sex has been discussed and taught to our girls. We are very open when they asked about Samoan women being so traditional when it comes to sex. We discussed the reality….that sometimes you will have sex with someone that you will not be married to. Sometimes that’s shameful to Samoan women….having multiple sex partners by way of having multiple relationships before you settle down (one partner…one relationship at a time). My personal opinion & question do a lot of Samoan women ever experience mind blowing sex or do they know that they can ejaculate love juices the same way men ejaculates? A woman’s body is a beautiful thing but we have to let our bodies experience those beautiful feelings…need and wants that our bodies deserve.

    Keep up the good work.

    January 22, 2015 at 1:13 pm
  • Iris Sunia
    Reply

    E maligi loimata, o le fiafiaga o le loto. The tears of a happy heart, for I feel as if there is a voice of this oppressed soul. Thank You! We, Samoan women, can only grow from this. There isn’t a thing that you have stated that is untrue. Eerie to have lived through it, to have seen it and to have first hand experience.
    I look forward to reading more of writing. Again Thank You.
    There is No Shame for speaking the Truth. Our Samoan Culture needs to evolve to better our people as a whole.

    January 23, 2015 at 1:35 am
  • Anonymous
    Reply

    Thanks Lani, your writings are so powerful…very well written. These issues should be out in the open for all of us to know…an eye opener for us Samoans, times have change a lot and we need to move with the changes…keep on writing and good luck

    January 25, 2015 at 9:41 pm
  • sam_i_sisifo
    Reply

    Malo lava.
    Very well stated.
    A time will come when the acceptance and understanding you speak of will be prevalent, not just among pacific peoples but worldwide. I would be happy if it were in my lifetime. For now all we can do is try to spread that understanding, through those that we have influence over. Our children, and their children are our best ways to make our actions mean something.
    Keep up with the story writing. I especially like “…the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story… Stories matter. Many stories matter.”

    January 27, 2015 at 9:59 pm
  • Philip Culbertson
    Reply

    Lani, thanks for your outspokenness. I so admire your writing, and even more so, your creative gifts. You have much to offer your community, as well as my community–old men (and old women) who know quite well that all of those taboos of our younger years were a bunch of garbage. Human identity is about “doing life to the best of our personal ability,” and there aren’t a lot of rules governing that, other than the rule about “living life as big as you can, as long as you’re generally careful.”

    February 22, 2015 at 4:37 am
  • Sene
    Reply

    This is an awesome read. It still boggles my mind why its such a “taboo” in our culture. I admire your writing and look forward to reading more.

    April 1, 2015 at 10:12 pm
  • Son of Samoan
    Reply

    When adults can’t speak to their children about healthy sexuality they will seek that education elsewhere.

    My personal experience in seeking that education regretfully wasn’t a healthy one I found dad’s porn magazines and observed them interact in relationship and learnt unhealthy habits from their example.

    Point being when the adult caregiver is afraid or unable then it’s then intimacy and sensuality is taught by the environment that surrounds you.

    I’d like to find out how intimacy and sexuality worked between man and women pre Christian influence.

    Samoan men and women from my experience are naturals when it comes to matters of sensuality.

    We hold this gift but somewhere in the time line it’s been hijacked and polluted and it’s been suppressed.

    Men in polynesian community are abusing their wives and children and this creates an ugly environment that poisons a society.

    If we as a true culture are to survive then we need to return to an honest conversation that sole aim is to return us to strength and not weaken us.

    The beating and molestation of women and children as a means to control or have sick needs met is not leadership or strength it’s pure weakness and I’ve never identified Samoans with that word.. samoans are intelligent and generous.

    We must teach our childeren by example and with our gifts of intelligence generosity and love.

    Sounds difficult because it is… it’s much easier to frighten and smack a child to control them than to have a supportive conversation that will teach them respect responsibility and the main life lesson which is to nurture others the same way they were nurtured.

    For me when I read here about violent samoan men and abuse of the children, I feel like I’m reading something that’s well within the samoan people’s power to change. But first I need to want to change and wake up to a need to change.

    After all It’s my future at stake here and the environment I wish to live in.

    Alofa tele atu.

    May 29, 2015 at 3:22 am
  • zan
    Reply

    Loved how you comfortably speak with open-mindedness and without fear or shame the truth about us and the brutal context we live by daily as Samoan women!

    October 22, 2015 at 4:39 pm

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