To quote Raymond Murphy: “Social closure is a process of subordination whereby one group monopolises advantages by closing off opportunities to another group of outsiders beneath it which it defines as inferior and ineligible.” Max Weber used the term social closure to discuss how power is derived from the process of exclusion to restrict access of marginalised women to resources and opportunities.
In Africa, young people are constantly opposed, preventing them from being themselves or expressing themselves. For queer Africans, it’s even worse as a result of the repression from oppressive laws which regress fundamental rights and freedoms.
We’ve seen a depiction of our society today in the Netflix hit series, Sex Education, where accounts of young African and British African casts exploring their sexual lives/sexualities freely, handling relationships, figuring out their Identities as young adults, and resisting opposition and control created by institutions around them are taken into play.
“Sex Education is a dream of a world in which young people are loved and respected no matter who they are. It’s also a reminder that we don’t live in that world right now,”Noah Berlatsky for NBCNEWS.
Sex Education has featured a very inclusive and enabling environment for anyone who has struggled with identity, sexuality, acceptance, and relationships. Despite the handful of NSFW scenes, this cultural classic has proven to be an empowering platform, opening and leading conversations about sex, sexuality, racism and everything in between that the society wasn’t really having, but needed to.
This third season is clear-eyed about how the rhetoric of safety, protection and responsibility can be used to police those who are different. And when all seems to fail, be used as more or less, a handbook for these young queer individuals to break away from the boxes created by the institutions around them.
Africa is still quite behind in terms of demarginalizing and accepting her own LGBTQIA+ people, and celebrating fundamental rights and freedoms without muffling. Nigeria’s rigid conservatism continues to stunt this sort of growth, the SSMPA, as exasperating as it is, constantly stifles progress towards equality, inclusivity and freedom of self-discovery.
On the path to self-discovery, Eric (Played by Ncuti Gatwa) has been without question, one of the most open and honest characters on the show, especially when it came to voicing his wants and desires. This applies to the vividly bright, loud palettes and bold fabric patterns in his wardrobe used, in a bid to express himself; while Adam on the other hand, has had the most challenges in expressing himself, a trait that he however explores during preparation for sex, in his relationship with Eric. He did, overall, make tentative steps towards Eric’s ideal of freedom in his self-expression.
His trip to Nigeria which featured the underground queer scene in Lagos, Nigeria, where he met the stunning Oba (Played by Jerry Iwu), resulted in what I’ll call a satori for the young black mxn. He was met by really lovely individuals, who out of fear of being kicked out, hurt, or even worse, killed, had to hide expressing their true selves and loving whom they wanted. After seeing what it’s like to be gay in an illiberal place like Nigeria, as an act of self-preservation, and fully loving and accepting himself, the young mxn decided that he was done with just walking in his identity, and he “wants to fly”. Nuanced hints to the Nigeria queer community? You tell me.
As far as self-preservation goes, Cal (Played by Dua Saleh) put the nac –not a chance–in tenacity. As the first nonbinary student, they were met with presumptions of being a womxn, and their identity was invalidated. Constantly, they had to fight or meander through situations that threatened their place and identity as non-binary.
Hope (Played by Jemima Kirke), the new headmistress who turned out to be a secondary-school fascist, enforced rules that targeted the gender-nonconforming students, and Cal was oftentimes, the object of these draconian laws. They urged the head of the multiracial and multiethnic student body led by Viv (Played by Chinenye Ezeudu) to withstand the authoritarian regulations that sought to control them all, while trying continuously to adjust and better fit into the new school policies, without compromising their identity.
Viv, as the new Head Girl, also troubled by post-Brexit xenophobia, had to deal with the struggles of being a black female trying to get a career in power for herself, and all the ass-kissing she had to do in order to remain the school’s administrative PR, which unfortunately is a microcosm of our society today. Women are marginalised and prejudiced without love or question, especially in Africa.
The concept of womanhood abetted by overt patriarchal customs enforces denial and abnegation of an innately divine being. A skewed discourse wrapped in trustworthy vocabulary effaces the possibilities of empowerment of women belonging to marginalised communities. Marginalisation results in confinement, seclusion and displacement and other crippling disadvantages, and brings forth various layers of social closure. Social closure is the process of subordination, in which one group usurps all opportunities by bringing another group to its knees.
Viv however, didn’t compromise her integrity and identity as a strong black female but revolted against the institutions set up to use her to do their bidding, whether or not it hurt her chances of setting a good career path for herself. This resulted in a moving act of resistance and solidarity among herself, Eric, Viv and the other students against the fascist headmistress Hope. In a beautifully sewn narrative and picturesque visuals, we are shown what can happen when we come together to battle social injustices around us.