This thesis is based on an eight month period of fieldwork in Abuja, the new capital of Nigeria. I have concentrated my study on two different sites; a large piece of undeveloped land in the centre of town and a military barracks. In each site I have focused mainly on specific social contexts, namely the drinking contexts of Bluelight and the Canteen. In these social contexts I take the life and goals of my informants as a starting point to explore the social and cultural universe of Abuja. I have analysed the strategies and practices of my informants through looking at women s position in society, and by contextualising it within the new and rapidly expanding urban context of Abuja, the uncertainty and universality of marriage, the prevailing gender antagonism and negative gender stereotypes, the transactional aspect of sexuality and gender relations and the current era of HIV/AIDS. The thesis shows how these women are agents in their own life, but also I explore how their strategies, goals and choices are being shaped by the constraints in society. In Abuja there is a certain system of meanings shared based on the ideal of women as obedient caretakers and men as authoritative providers. This ideal of the man as the provider is first and foremost within marriage, but also extended to most relationships between men and women. The providing role is a key in gender relations and the transactional aspect of sex. I will demonstrate how, through a successful managing of meaning and manipulation and by framing ones goals within what is socially accepted, there is an opening for an extensive pragmatic use of one s sexuality. Even if one transgresses what is socially acceptable, ending up being assigned the label prostitute , this is not necessarily a lasting or detrimental stigma. Although HIV/AIDS has made bartering one s sexuality a dangerous game, I claim that the strong link I have seen between money and sex does open up for some bargaining power to a certain extent. It might make women independent of men, but only partially, since the strategies are dependent on those same men to be successful. It also depends on ones ability in managing meaning (Bledsoe 1990). Within their ideal frames gender notions are negotiable: Gender identities and gender relations can have different meanings and generate different practices in various contexts. But I will also argue that by using and manipulating the content of the ideal gender roles, especially the ideal of the man as the provider, one also adheres to the dominant gender discourse in society and contributes to the reproduction of the patriarchal institutions.