The empirical base of the paper is a Gambian multiethnic urban context. It is discussed how the label prostitute seems to be used as a metaphor for improper handling of female gender identity. This metaphorization can be seen as one of several important processes whereby gender categories are constructed. When sexually related stigmas are attached to certain types of actions ("walking about", smoking, wearing trousers, living alone etc.) when performed by women and seems neutral when performed by men, women's sexuality seems to be more critical in their handling of gender identity than men's. Kanyeleen, a fertility ritual among Mandinka women, is discussed both in relation to ideas about reproduction and the transgression of gender categories one finds within this ritual.

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