disease to desire
hen someone says sex or you discuss sex in a conversation with your friends we can’t imagine it’s about the lack of adequate sexual education in the public and private school system in South Africa. We try to tackle this problem by bringing it to light (page 5). We don’t always have honest conversations about sex and when we do they’re extremely uncomfortable, S|X MAG works towards changing this and creating a more open attitude towards sex. The more you know the better equiped you are to engage. Not many people have access to information about sex and sexual health and even fewer people are comfortable with the idea of looking up sex. We look at how inaccessible safe sex is and who gets affected by this (page 11). We believe that everyone has a sexual awakening in some way but the question of whether or not you are safe in your awakening is of great intereast to our team. We work towards creating an environment of learning so sex doesnt become so taboo. The editorial team is comprised of different personalities with different interests in sex and we have created a magazine that was concieved through discussion and debates on everything to do with sex. From social sexual taboos, to what has become popular in the sexual space. With this we hope to spark many honest conversations and debates around the topic of sex. Conversations that inspire people to think and reflect critically. S|X MAG is about stripping away the social taboos surrounding sex and revealing the intimate, hurtful truths and uncovering what lies beneath the covers. We try to bring sex back from its overly romanticized and highly desensitized state. S|X MAG a magazine about nakedness, not only in the literal term but in the rawness of our lives as students, people, and citizens of the brave new world. We hope our magazine makes you, happy, sad, angry, frustrated and every other emotion you can muster. But in the end we hope you feel enlightened and bolder. -Yours in sex The S|X MAG team
Will men ever stop undressing women with their eyes?
Revisiting Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues.
Can we all afford to have safe sex in this economy?
A fun and informative examination of the clitoris.
All hail the clitoris
Exploring the joys of female masturbation.
An anatomical view of the female pleasure center.
Your brain on sex Cover and back page photos by Toby Ngomane.
Ode to the vagina
The psychological impact of oxytocin.
The ongoing debate around legalising sex work in South Africa.
A photo series exploring holding and being held.
The woman set on changing the narrative in her field.
Is there a new dawn in sexual education?
A photo series on representations of sex.
She tells of where it all began and where sheâ€™s headed.
Exploring Janelle Monaeâ€™s Dirty Computer.
The Department of Home Affairs and trans bodies.
Sex and music
“Trust in my affection...” - Anna Jameson
Some kind of caption here
Entrepreneur, Siphathisiwe Hlongwane, demonstrates what sex means to her, in a single gesture. Photo by Reatlegile Rakitla.
SEX ED by Reatlegile Rakitla
In 2017 the Department of Basic Education (DOBE) approved new lesson plans for grades 7-9. The plans were aimed at implementing more effective HIV education in South African schools. With the new plans, a new wave of teachers had been trained to teach the newly added curriculum. The government’s investment in a more comprehensive sexual education system in schools was welcome. But it also revealed the need for sexual education that included the representation of more than one sexuality. The Sexuality and Relationship Education (SRE) workshops that started more than 20 years ago had been aimed to fill in the gaps in the system. The organisation, run by Sister Ruth Loubser and Dr Eli Rosen, focuses on teaching the youth of South Africa about the many aspects of sexual education, including: decision making, communication and relationship skills. The organisation was founded in hopes of breaking away from the traditional education system that focuses mainly on the mechanics of sex. Rosen is an active member and supporter of the LGBTQI+ community. When he meets students who identify in one or more of these categories, ‘the Doc’ (as Rosen prefers to be addressed) is always ready to help and answer any questions they might have. Loubster and Rosen’s workshops are so open that the pair admit to owning a drawer full of model clitorises in all shades, shapes and sizes, for educational purposes. Mpumi Tshabangu, a student at the University Still Known As Rhodes (USKAR), said that “ primary school was the first time that I ever encountered sex education… it was a bit weird. I think it was fear more than anything.” She further explains that in high school the environment was very different from the one she encountered at university, and that there was no inclusivity in the sexual education curriculum for same sex or queer couples. Even at the all-girl school she attended. In a 2016 article about microaggressions against LGBT students among teachers in South Africa, it was shown that the teachers exhibited subtle heterosexism in the classroom. This was the result of a lack of awareness of the connection between heterosexism, racism and sexism. The article concluded that the way to address the microaggressions was through a new, all-inclusive lesson plan that is less explicit than traditional plans, and adheres to real-life experiences rather than focusing exclusively on the technical aspects of sexual activity. Going forward, says Rosen, the aim should be to create safe and open spaces for youths to speak about safe sex, sexual health, and sexuality. The DOBE has further plans to review and renew their curricula in the coming years.
SEXUAL EDUCATION and
LACK THEREOF by Claire O’ Reilly
Almost four years ago the South African Education Department devised a strategy to empower the country’s youth by teaching them about HIV/AIDS, safe sex, communication and sexual practices. This was called the Strategy of National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for 2014-2019. In 2018, the majority of the youth are still misinformed about sex and sexual health. Students arrive at university with little knowledge of the basics to do with sex, such as whether or not a woman can fall pregnant from engaging in oral sex. Although studies show an overall increase in knowledge about HIV/AIDS, South African youth are still largely misinformed in schools about the multi-faceted topic of sex, from disease to desire, to the deconstruction of patriarchal sex. The question asked by many is, why? Why have these policies failed? It is mainly due to socioeconomic inequalities within the education sector as educators lack resources, training and sufficient time to critically engage with learners. Yet even in private schools, approximately only 4 hours in a teenager’s academic career will be dedicated to discussing sex in a non-reproductive context. The few times that sex is addressed in South African schools, the topic either surrounds the biology of sex, superficial teaching about HIV/AIDS, or tutorials showing students how to put a condom on a broomstick. Educating the youth on sexuality is an essential component that is completely neglected. Sex constantly impacts the average person, both physically and psychologically. “It’s an intellectual and emotional act,” says Mmatumisang Motsisi, a Masters student at the University Still Known As Rhodes. Many students, including Motsisi, did not and still do not know what to expect from their first sexual encounter. Motsisi states that “proper sexual education could have saved me from trauma.” The mechanical manner in which sexual education is taught leads to broader social issues. Sexual violence and patriarchy are recurring depredations at Rhodes and in the country as a whole. Violence is “the absence of teaching of consent,” says Motsisi. She states that “Sexual education right now is structured to disempower women.” “Sex talks are laced with criminality,” she says. The sexual education that the youth does receive is heteronormative and based on stereotypical gender roles. In almost no circumstances is the pleasure of sex discussed in the classroom. Students at Rhodes are continuously advised and given the opportunity to become informed and clear their misconceptions of sex. There are forums for students to engage and learn more.
‘Everyone is hyper aware of STDs and pregnancy scares, but what about the psychological effects of continuously being intimate with multiple people?’
Tied up but not tied down. Photo by Claire O’Reilly.
The War Between Sexual Liberation and Oxytocin by Claire O’Reilly
he height of the sexual revolution was an exciting time. The movement changed the way many people defined their social and moral attitudes towards sex. Men and women began to embrace the concept of sexual freedom like a new, exotic dish. The concept of sexual freedom is still relevant in society today and is prevelant at the University Still Known As Rhodes (USKAR). The idea of sex with numerous partners has become popularised at USKAR through the naps culture. Female sexuality is no longer as suppressed as it was previously, and women have proudly gained and embraced agency over their bodies. The societal taboo surrounding premarital sex has become less prevalent within the millenial generation, who are relatively free when exploring their sexualities and sensualities. To the liberal, it may seem as though nothing should conflict with this picture-perfect ideal of sexual freedom. Reverend. Daniel Ameen, a prominent figure in neuropsychology, begs to differ. The reverend aims to combat these ideas
with his research into the effects of the powerful hormone, oxytocin. Oxytocin, often referred to as the ‘love hormone’, the ‘cuddle hormone’ or the ‘trust hormone’, is released into the body when you experience touch. High levels of oxytocin make you feel warm inside. The hormone is said to lower anxiety and inhibitions; it helps humans and animals create bonds with each other, form deeper connections, and grow trust for one another. Oxytocin is released in abundant amounts from the brain’s pituitary gland before and during childbirth, when a mother and child bond for the first time. More frequently, it is released when a female or male has an orgasm. Other hormones released during sexual intercourse include dopamine and serotonin, which leaves a person with feelings that can be described as ‘fireworks’ — a kind of euphoria. The male hormone, vasopressin, has a similar effect to oxytocin. These biochemicals, all related to emotional attachment, are highly addictive. Every person should have the right to do with their bodies as they choose. Recently, however, more and more students have been questiong the idea that pleasurable sex is always natural and always healthy, no matter how many partners a person has. For some individuals there is no evident psychological turmoil when engaging in continuous emotionless sexual relationships, or when engaging
in sex with multiple partners, but this is uncommon. Despite how hyper-aware the youth are of STDs and pregnancy scares, young people tend to be ignorant to the emotional turmoil that they might be undergoing as a result of being intimate with more people than they can handle. Can it possibly affect us? At USKAR, students tend to struggle to find deeper connections with those they truly like. Brief sexual encounters can lead to feelings of hollowness. This emotional detachment is the result of the brain continuously releasing hormones such as oxytocin, which attach one person to another. When this is repeated often, with different people, it can overwhelm the brain. Most people create a mental relation between those addictive neurochemicals and the people who induce their release — the person they had sex with. Oxy-
main romantically uninvolved with each other) is that it creates a cycle of interpersonal bondage and breakage of these bonds. Mark Turrell, a behavioural psychologist, says this is strenuous on our emotions. Students are finding that past, meaningless sexual experiences can affect their personal ability to emotionally invest themselves, even if they want to. In extreme cases, this has even resulted in sexual dysfunctions. Research has also shown that abstinence from sex can give the brain time to balance its chemicals. Sticking to fewer partners or people that one has an emotional or intuitive connection with is more likely to resolve feelings of emotional ambivalence and loss. Truthfully, an excessive amount of anything can be damaging. Even if you are a person who has an emotional response to sex,
MORE AND MORE STUDENTS HAVE BEEN QUESTIONING THE IDEA THAT PLEASURABLE SEX IS ALWAYS NATURAL AND ALWAYS HEALTHY. tocin tells your brain subconsciously that you have a connection with another person, and that you care about them. When your emotions disagree, it can become confusing. What is happening to many students who have multiple one night stands and get involved in what is commonly called a ‘friends with benefits’ relationship (in which two people who engage in sex re-
this is not to say an occasional passionate experience shared with a stranger you don’t know is going to permanently damage your neurons or that you have to be in so-called “love” with a person to share a healthy sexual experience. It could be beneficial to consider the effects of oxytocin on your journey to redefining your sexual freedom.
The Critical Impact of Everyday Ignorance by Ayanda Msibi
Grahamstown’s Home Affairs office. Photo and illustration by Ayanda Msibi.
South Africa’s government leaves its transgender citizens floundering
ntil the late 1980s, the apartheid government logged the race of every South African as a digit in their ID number. Race formed part of the identities that the government wanted to create and track. After democracy, new ID numbers were issued to erase this practice. These days, the ID number contains information about a person’s date of birth, gender, and citizenship status. An ID is necessary for most things: booking transport, doing taxes, collecting grants, starting a bank account — you name it. Imagine, then, if the state refused to accept your identity. If you did not conform to gender norms and were forced to either choose the gender they had given you or live stranded without one. Imagine explaining to the guy behind the counter again that, yes, that is you in the photograph, only you look different now. Trying to land a job when the gender on your ID is different from the one that you present as. Signing new documents with your old signature
— or signing with your new one and hoping it sticks. This is the reality for many transgender people in a South Africa that refuses to recognise their right to a chosen gender identity. The Alteration of the Sex Description and Sex Status Act, passed in 2003, allows for the official change of a person’s sex. The act was amended in 2004 after transgender advocacy groups appealed the condition that people must have had genital reconstructive surgery to qualify for new documents. Sex organs are not the only way to tell a person’s gender. In fact, they have little to do with gender. The government, however, continues to equate gender with biological sexual characteristics. To be recognised by the state as adopting a gender which is different from the one assigned at birth, you must change your name and ID number through Home Affairs. In order to do this, you must provide medical proof from two different doctors and, in some cases, a psychiatrist, stating that you have had some sort
of medical sexual reassignment. Transsexual people must also prove that they have been living according to their preferred gender for at least two years. While the act no longer necessitates genital reconstructive surgery, many government workers don’t understand this yet. People are often turned away if they cannot provide proof of a surgical procedure. Practical application of the rules is near impossible in a
SEX ORGANS ARE NOT THE ONLY WAY TO TELL A PERSON’S GENDER. country where many people: misunderstand transgender identity, equate it to homosexuality, or believe it to be a mental illness. According to the Other Foundation’s 2016 gender survey, a large majority of South Africans believe that breaking established gender norms is ‘wrong’ and that even dressing as the opposite gender is ‘disgusting’. The government cites con-
cerns about South Africa’s security as the basis for its strict rules and slow speeds when it comes to changing ID numbers, as it presents opportunities for fraud and debt evasion. The sometimes twoyear process leaves transgender people struggling to perform even basic tasks. You might be thinking, “That’s Home Affairs. They take forever.” But in the space between waiting a month for your new passport and waiting two years for your real gender to become official to the state, is a sea of frustration. Not only is it be embarrassing, but degrading as well. Like the apartheid race classification system, the gender identification system must be reconsidered by the South African government. It presents a cis-normative gender binary to which many South Africans do not conform. If we are to become a truly inclusive democracy, we must rethink all of the destructive classifications at the base of our society.
Safe Sex is Expensive
With the starting price for twelve condoms being R141, the chances of people engaging in unprotected sex increases drastically. (Sopotela). Photo by Toby The price of 12Ngomane condoms is R 141. Enough money to buy a small family bread for a month. Photo by Toby Ngomane.
With such high prices, it begs the question: who is safe sex for? by Toby Ngomane
t’s 2018 and the stigma surrounding the governmentsupplied condom, Choice, is still very prevalent. 80% of the individuals we spoke to say that they would never be willing to use Choice. Siphokazi Dlamini*, a 20 year old woman who is allergic to latex condoms, exclaims, “definitely not!” She claims that although it has been said and understood that Choice is a safe brand of condoms to use, as safe as some known brands, she certainly does not trust it. Dlamini would prefer a more trusted brand. A 21-year-old student at the University Still Known As Rhodes (USKAR), Sebo Moabelo says he would willingly use Choice, adding that he does not see anything wrong with the brand. Shiba Sopotela, a 32 year old designer, also says that she would definitely not willingly use a Choice condom. USKAR honor’s student, Micayla Fillis, assertively states that with the stigma surrounding Choice, she is going nowhere near it. Evidently, the stigma surrounding the brand means very few people trust it enough to use the condoms regularly, if at all. And if these people want to continue having safe sex, they are forced to spend exorbitant amounts of money on rubber latex condoms. With the entry level pack of
condoms, containing only three condoms, priced at an average of R30, this directly equates to R10 a condom. This already difficult financial situation becomes an even bigger problem for an individual like Dlamini who is allergic to latex. A latex allergy can be identified by an itching and redness following contact with a latex condom. More serious symptoms present as hives or gastrointestinal problems. And if a person is severely allergic to latex they can experience life threatening symptoms such as low blood pressure, a rapid heartbeat or difficulty breathing.
though. They are too expensive, they are just ridiculously priced,” she adds. The average pack of 3 nonlatex condoms costs around R40. R10 more than latex condoms. The prices for a pack of 10 Skyn non-latex condoms begin at R129. Alongside the problem of price, Dlamini also says that the non-latex condoms are fairly inaccessible. The only place she can find the Skyn brand in Grahamstown, is Clicks. Outside of latex-free condoms, the average condom is still fairly expensive: a pack of 10 costs R110. Besides condoms, other items used in
“SEX IS EXPENSIVE, NOT JUST FINANCIALLY BUT ALSO INTELLECTUALLY.” – DLAMINI Dlamini says that she realised she had a latex allergy when during and after sex her “vagina was very irritable, it would dry up and it would be painful to have sex”. She further describes the feeling and pain caused by the friction as being as rough as sandpaper. However, it would seem that not all hope is lost, as Dlamini explains that non-latex condoms can be found. “I can buy latex-free condoms, but they’re expensive
safe sex such as lubricants are also expensive. A 50 ml bottle of lubricant has a starting price of R50. Sopotela mentions that some people might not have the money to buy latex condoms, let alone latex-free condoms, and asks, what must happen to them? She also says that the fact that these condoms are so expensive makes them inaccessible and “when something is inaccessible people will not buy it, not because they
don’t want to buy it but rather because they can’t afford to.” “R129 is bread and eggs for three weeks and most of the tuckshops, in the locations, don’t even stock it. Not that they can afford it,” Sopotela adds. Dlamini asserts that “sex is expensive, not just financially but also intellectually. The lack of knowledge surrounding contraceptives and female health is what makes it expensive” says Dlamini. She recalls a post from a university Facebook group, ‘Rhodes Confessions’, written by a lady who claimed to have the same symptoms as her but didn’t know that she was allergic to latex. With that lack of knowledge, the lady insisted on going raw with all of her partners. “And so it becomes expensive in the bigger picture when you fall pregnant.” said Dlamini This lack of knowledge and the unprotected sex will have a greater effect and impact than what meets the eye. An increase in the number of people that have unprotected sex, will also see an increase in the number of people contracting HIV and STI/Ds.
*This Individuals name was changed to protect her identity.
“NO NO NOW TO YOUR – PENIS
PENIS, PROMOTION. GO BACK CUBICLE.” PRIVILEGE
Sex workers are endangered by a system that forces them to live in the shadows. Photo by Ayanda Msibi.
BE LEGAL? The future of sex work is under discussion in parliament by Ayanda Msibi
arliament’s multi-party women’s caucus hosted a summit in March to discuss a 2017 report by the South African Law Reform Commission, which recommended that sex work remain fully criminalised in South Africa. Many different organisations submitted arguments for and against the measures suggested in the report. Full decriminalisation would legitimise the profession of sex work, opening it up to governmental regulation. The option of partial decriminalisation, in which only the clients of sex workers are criminalised, was also discussed. In Makana, a high unemployment rate makes poverty the main propellant of sex work. Lieutenant Colonel JA Killian of the Makana Police Department said that young women in the town, particularly those with children to care for, turn to prostitution solely as a way to make money. This leaves them vulnerable to predatory behaviour and exploitation. The stigma attached to sex work often makes it difficult for workers to find support from state bodies such as the police. Violence against sex workers is extremely prevalent in South Africa, and more than a third of
sex workers experience workplace violence in a year. This is often ignored or perpetuated by the police. Dr Lindsay Kelland said that the biggest advantage to decriminalising sex work would be the increased access to representation and healthcare. “Sex workers are incredibly vulnerable bodies when it comes to being targeted for sexual violence. One of the reasons is because there’s no recourse for sex workers,” said Kelland.
jeke. There is still a large amount of research and intervention to be explored before decisions can be made. Government plans to involve NGOs, communities, and various other sectors in order to broaden the discussions, but this cannot happen overnight. The country has a long way to go before any decisions are seen in practice, Majeke said. The topic of decriminalising sex work has been in the eye of the South African Police Service
“SEX WORKERS ARE INCREDIBLY VULNERABLE BODIES WHEN IT COMES TO BEING TARGETED FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE. ONE OF THE REASONS IS BECAUSE THERE’S NO RECOURSE FOR SEX WORKERS.” – KELLAND Decriminalisation could play a role in reducing the stigma attached to the profession and allowing sex workers to seek help from the state. However, law reform is a slow process. The talks in Parliament show stark divisions between the parties involved. “Half the presenters were for and others were not for decriminalisation, meaning there is still need for engagement,” said member of parliament, Cynthia Ma-
for years, said Lieutenant Colonel Killian. For over a decade, the issue has been under discussion in both government and in SAPS. “How long has the state been speaking about legalised prostitution? I was a youngster in the police and people already spoke about it,” he said. It is as yet unclear where the discussions will lead, or whether they will benefit the vulnerable parties involved.
Intimacy by Toby Ngomane
Photos by Toby Ngomane.
Touch plays a huge role in shaping relationships, both with sexual partners and with friends. It also shapes our views on intimacym, say Micayla Fillis and Noluthando Sibisi, the women in this piece. They explore their ideas of intimacy and desire through touch, humor and just being.
There exists within the human condition feelings of isolation and loneliness and a general longing to be held, to be seen, to be touched and to be loved. An intimacy and desire. â€œTo locate intimacy within another, I must find it within myself,â€? says Sibisi.
Babalwa Ngcivana questions society through film
by Ayanda Msibi
abalwa Ngcivana removes her sunglasses as she crosses the threshold from midday sun to dim cafe. An aura of calm follows her into the room. She can’t stay too long; her boss at Enhle Communications, where she works full-time as an intern, hasn’t given her much time. Although she promises to be brief, Ngcivana goes on to speak about film for almost an hour. The East London native studied to be a writer in Johannesburg. Now, she is a poet, scriptwriter and film-maker working towards a career in film. Ngcivana is solid, laid back. She leans into conversation, the silver piercing in her bottom lip glimmering as she speaks, her shoulder length dreads swaying when she moves her arms to articulate her point. Ncgivana introduces her colleagues, Sinovuyo Bucwa and Azukiwe Zama, who are also working on the film. They began their internships at Enhle Communications last September, when the company branched out from its Johannesburg office to bring new life to the film industry in the Eastern Cape. Now, the women are working together on ‘The List’, a short film about rape culture in Grahamstown, which they hope to show at South Africa’s esteemed Durban International Film Festival later this year. From there, the hope is that investors will notice the film and turn the story into a full-length feature or purchase it for television. “The story began with a ‘what-if’ premise,” Ncgivana says, and the screenplay was built up around that. What if a man woke up to find he had been mutilated? What if a woman did it? What the writers ended up with is a story about sexual violence and vigilante justice, meted out by a group of vengeful female students. The story immediately brings to mind the 2016 protests at the University Still Known As Rhodes (USKAR), sparked by the release of a list on social media exposing a group of alleged rapists on campus. Soon after the release of the list, students mobilised to find the accused, leading to weeks of protest action and a nationwide movement against rape culture in South Africa. When a colleague at Enhle mentioned the ‘RUReferenceList’ protests at USKAR, Ngcivana was sold. “You can have an idea but it can’t come out of nowhere. It has to have a place in terms of the environment where it’s happening,” says Ngcivana about her inspiration for the screenplay. It also comes from her own experiences of rape culture. “As a woman, I think it comes from the fear for your life, from lanto yokuba, awuyazi ukuba
“AS A WOMAN, I THINK IT COMES FROM THE FEAR FOR YOUR LIFE.” – NGCIVANA kungenzekantoni kuwe, or to people that you know,” says Ngcivana. She aims to tell the story of many women from a woman’s point of view. To give audiences an account that is different from what they may have seen in the news or shared on social media. Ngcivana believes that these narratives aren’t always helpful to the people involved in the stories, on the ground. Real action needs to happen in person rather than online — and it must be initiated by the country’s youth. “No one is actually taking things into their own hands,” says Ngcivana, when it is the youth who are affected. “Kubulawa thina,” she stresses more than once. “It’s been told, the protesting and everything. So now, we’re trying to make a movie where everyone is going to have access to watching it and understanding exactly what is happening,” says Zama. The predominantly female cast (including a male who plays a transgender woman) was locally sourced from Grahamstown, including Rhodes University’s own Drama department. The crew will film and edit over the next few weeks. Bucwa and Zama make jokes, but Ngcivana doesn’t laugh. She barely smiles. “I want people to leave with that question,” Ngcivana says softly, finally leaning back. “What has been done? What are we doing?”
Ngcivana turns the question on the audience: “Don’t you think we are in a state of emergency?” she asks. Photo by Ayanda Msibi.
Many people are enticed by things they aren’t allowed to do. Risk holds excitement and adventure, which might explain why other people and probably even yourself would consider having sex in public. The defiance and the allure of the possibility of getting caught excites like nothing else. Sex in public has been around since our ancestors, who knows? Your very existence may have relied on an indecent public act somewhere in your historical bloodline.
“I’ve done some things I’m proud to be not-so-proud-of at Monument. The moment was almost ruined when a stick almost went up my...”
by Claire O’Reilly
“I too, have dabbled in in this phenomenon of public sex. With a very attrative muscian in my first year at Rhodes university, in the botanical gardens, completely inebriated and enjoying the stars as our bums froze on the freezing cold grass. Although it was at night, doing the deed in such a big open space was quite a rush.”
“Imagine being in a movie theatre, innocently picturing your future marrige to the God of Thunder, Thor, and you hear skin slapping and heavy breathing. Talk about a buzz kill.”
“So I was walking out of my complex to go get food late one Friday night. I looked to my left and I saw two people who looked like they were fighting. I stopped to asssess the situation and when I realised that one of the guys was ‘assessing’ the situation in front of him, I was gobsmacked.”
“Myself and my ex lover used to love having sex in his car. So one night we came back to my house but my parents were home—my parents are super strict so they didn’t want to see him in the house, right—and we had sex in his car, literally in the driveway. When I was leaving he decided he wanted to go once more and so he pulled me back and we had sex on top of the car too, outside my house. I was kak scared though but I think that made it even better.”
“I was busy trying to have myself a good night at Prime. Jamming to Formation and living my best Beyhive life when I noticed two people pushed up against the wall doing things that were highly innapropriate. I mean that is just not sexy. Needless to say, I left pretty traumatised.”
“New Years Eve at a night club, there was a small nookto the side away from the dance floor or bar. I was looking for a reasonably quiet place to make a phone call and stepped into the alcove. As I looked up, I made eye contact with a man who looked really shocked to see me... but he wasn't as shocked as the poor woman with her jeans around her ankles and her rear end up against his business. I have never changed my mind about making a phone call any faster. Got out of there before either of us had to speak to each other!”
“I was at a major sports event at the beginning of the year where all the univerisities come together to compete. This is highly respected and no one is allowed to drink for a while (with most universities). After the competition everyone gets absolutely recklessly drunk and has a massive party. In all this drunkness, there was a naked slide wher all the sporting athletes released their inhibitions. As I was walking to the bathroom, I was shocked to see 3 groups of people bonking each other on the soft green grass. They were all no more than 10 meters away from each other.”
“My ex and I in the backseat of an uber on our way to the club. Her best friend and the uber driver were in the front. They had no idea. Gave the uber driver 5 stars.”
ALL HAIL THE
Female sexuality remains criminally sidelined and largely uneplored. Photo and illustration by Ayanda Msibi.
For some, the clitoris, like a good orgasm, is the great white whale of the female body. It is one of the most misunderstood and under-represented sex organs — a tragedy, considering it exists for no other function than sexual pleasure. The whole clitoris is a lot bigger than its visible part, the glans clitoris. Although this is the only part we can see, the whole clitoris extends 10 cm on either side of the vaginal opening, hiding inside the vagina. Like a penis, the clitoris fills with blood and engorges when a woman is aroused. It is through stimulation of this hidden part, near the vaginal wall (around the mythical G-spot!), that women have vaginal orgasms. Only recently, however, has the clitoris’s role in sexual pleasure been formally recognised. Considering that the word vagina translates to ‘sheath’ or ‘scabbard’ (the holder for a sword) in Latin, one can imagine why the focus has been on the penis and its role in vaginal pleasure for so many centuries. The biological use of the clitoris is still highly contested. However, there is a lot of research supporting its importance in sexual functioning. This largely hidden organ could be the key to female sexual health. Now that you know where it is, try showing it some love - after all, it’s only there to make you happy!
VAGINAL ANATOMY: 101
Illustration by Ayanda Msibi.
Feminist, academic and humanitarian, Dr Lindsay Kelland. Photo by Toby Ngomane
Lindsay Kelland: A Power House That Just Won’t Stop by Toby Ngomane
s I walked into Lindsay Kelland’s office, I was met with a striking red wall contrasted by a vase containing bright yellow flowers. Next to the yellow flowers was a bold modern art painting of an individual surrounded by dark blues and blacks. Below that painting were sticky notes of different sizes and colours, all holding onto the wall and preserving their own little piece of valuable information. I was in the presence of power and I felt it. The 35 year old feminist philosopher who took over the Silent Protest, an important organisation working towards eradicating rape culture and gender-based violence, from Kim Baker in 2015 smiled and invited me to sit down in the chair across from hers. Keri Perumal, a Rhodes University student who works with Kelland as part of the organising team for the Silent Protest, described Kelland’s working environment as a “work space that felt like home, she made it comfortable and there was this sense of care.” I resonated with this feeling as Lindsay welcomed me to her cosy, carpeted office. On the floor to her, a bright pink yoga mat lay next to a large wooden desk with books neatly arranged against the wall. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and released it as she began to explain how her experiences as an undergraduate at Rhodes University, including her rape at the end of her first year,
have greatly shaped who she has become. She recounted heavily how from a young age she always felt sheltered and secure and protected until that incident. “I think that [rape], that would kind of be the biggest environmental thing, and from then I know there’s a kind of trajectory in my research,” she added. She has played a great role in the movement for speaking out about sexual assault, through the Silent Protest. She has done this for the past three years with the exception of 2016, when the Rhodes University (RU) Reference List protests took place. Kelland revealed how, in heading the Silent Protest, there exists this great push-and-pull dynamic of raising awareness and also creating a safe space for survivors, using “images, the die-in, the taping, those are actually incredibly triggering things for survivors.” Kelland remained attentive, alert and in control as she added that the RU Reference List protests, “did not come out of nowhere.” The Silent Protest had been encouraging people to speak up and they did just that. Being asked about her childhood Kelland mustered a small laugh as she briefly explained how she went from being the youngest of two children, to being the third oldest of seven. Very quickly, that little laugh transformed into a genuine and heartfelt smile as she began to speak about her older sister,
born before her parent’s separation. The Cape Town-born doctor of Philosophy happily recounted a fond memory from her childhood, just after her family moved to Durban. “We were staying in Howick briefly and it hailed, and my sister and I ran outside and collected all this hail in buckets and we hid behind the bed, and ate it and we thought we were very devilish, that’s a very bold memory for me”. However, this relationship was not indicative of the one she shared with her mother growing up.
avoid them,” said Kelland. “The reference list pre-empted all of this stuff,” she added, referring to survivors speaking up and the famous #MeToo campaign. However, even through all of this destruction and heartache, Kelland maintains that her mantra is and has been since before high school, “that people are intrinsically good.” Jiba Xulu, a colleague of Kelland’s, attested to her belief. He described her as frank, imaginative and amazing to work with. He further noted that perhaps her greatest flaw is her inability to put
“I THOUGHT THIS WAS REALLY INSIGHTFUL, HOW I MAKE MYSELF BUSY TO AVOID CERTAIN THINGS, AND I PERHAPS INTELLECTUALISE CERTAIN THINGS TO AVOID THEM” -KELLAND Kelland sighed as she remembered how “hypercritical” her mother was of her body and weight. “Those bodily images and ideals that are perpetuated, she definitely perpetuated those in our house,” said Kelland. Taking a second to acknowledge her neatly rolled up yoga mat, Kelland explained how her new psychologist provided her with a revelation of sorts. “I thought this was really insightful, how I make myself busy to avoid certain things, and I perhaps intellectualise certain things to
herself first sometimes. “I’d love to stay in academia, I want to stay in philosophy, but I’d also really like to have a child in the (near) future,” Lindsay concluded. She shot a warm smile as she stood to take my hand, and shook it with a grateful and powerful look in her eye. As she led me from her warm office with the dark red wall and yellow flowers and blue-black painting, she said, “Thank you, and pop by whenever.”
Healing Feminine awakening, exploration and discovery by Reatlegile Rakitla
he sits on her bed, the lights dimmed, soft sensual music playing and the scent of a lit candle, perfumed with lavender and sage, warming her nose. She prepares for the most relaxing part of her night. With efficienct and well-practiced hands, Mvelo Kunene sets out to complete her evening with a 30 minute masturbation session that will hopefully result in climax. Sex has always been about more than procreation. It serves as a release for most couples and a moment of intimacy between two people. However, sex does not always end in climax for both parties. Focusing mainly on heterosexual couples, it was found that 13% of sexually active women have never had an orgasm in their lives, and a further 22% rarely have orgasms with a partner and perform better when alone. Masturbation for men is an easy and common topic of discussion, and is even considered a normal, natural habit in boys’ and men’s lives. However, for women it is bit more scandalous. A S|X MAG survey revealed that women not only begin masturbating later
than men, but not all women actually climaxed every time they masturbated. In fact, for most women it can take 10–30 minutes to get aroused and an additional 5–10 minutes to reach climax. This with a partner or alone. But why is it important to be comfortable with masturbation, especially for women? In a 2013 Ted Talk, adult sexual health educator, Jane Langton, revealed that most young women in university didn’t actually know what they
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT ‘BUSTING A NUT’. liked when it came to sex. This could have been for many reasons, but the most common was that most women had never had orgasms before becoming sexually active. Because of this they often didn’t know what they liked in the bedroom. The key to any successful relationship between partners is communication — this is what couples who go to therapy hear from their psychologist in almost every romantic-comedy ever made. As simple as it sounds, many
people — especially women — struggle with communicating their sexual preferences to a partner. In most cases, women don’t actually know what they like in the bedroom. Kunene only got comfortable with her sexuality and body after her first sexual encounter with a partner. Only after discovering what she did not like her partner doing did she dare to venture down into the unknown depths of her own pleasure palace. After a few moments of discovery, she found the gem, the crème de la crème, the cherry on top: the clitoris. Miss Kunene’s discovery was life-changing. She described it as like being hit with lighting, and everything clicking into place. However, even though there is nothing wrong with masturbation or the people who partake in the act, there are some women who don’t masturbate or don’t feel the need to masturbate. Dudu Ebineng is one of these women. She believes that a woman has the right to do what she wants with her vagina. For her, the act of masturbation feels like a means to an end or just a reach for the climax. What she looks for
is a shared experience of intimacy, her partner’s closeness and comforting embrace. She has never felt the need to masturbate. Karabo Mokoena, a male USKAR student, simply stated that he didn’t understand why there was such a stigma around the act. The importance of self-love and an in depth scientific understanding of the female sexual experience forms the basis for Omgyes.com, a website dedicated to the female sexual experience. Omgyes, said as OMG yes, hosts more than 60 videos of women sharing their own stories about masturbation, a number of interactive games, and scenarios that give detailed instructions and ‘how-to’ guides. The website is based on research gathered from over 2000 women. What they’ve found is that most women use similar techniques when it comes to masturbation. Men may talk a lot more about masturbation, but women do it too. This growing community aims to really explore the female body, intimately and sexually.
Photo by Reatlegile Rakitla.
Hand Jobs by Reatlegile Rakitla
uta Street, nestled in a little corner of Braamfontein, buzzes with the sounds of light conversation and the loud honks and hoots of car horns. The sun shines down onto the busy street, creating a spotlight for streets that were once shaded by the tall concrete buildings. The true concrete jungle. I ask each passer-by and helpful participant a question: what does sex mean to you, and how would you describe it with your hands or a gesture? The most common answer: “Wow.” The second most common answer was, “Wow, I guess I really don’t think about it.” What they all ended up asking, though, was, “does it have to be just for straight people?” The answer was simple: “Anything you want.” These were their responses.
Clockwise from above: 1. Entrepreneur, Siphathisiwe Hlongwane, displaying a gesture for non-binary sex in Neighbourgoods Food Market, Braamfontein. 2. Student, Patricia Kosasih, and her gesture on a street in Braamfontein. 3. Tattoo lover, Nomfundo, in front of Neighbourgoods food Market, with a gesture for love in bed. 4. Student, Novhe, outside The Smokehouse and Grill in Braamfontein. 5. Fashion sales rep, Luthando Tshabalala, in front of Neighbourgoods Food Market in Braamfontein. 6. Makeup enthusiast, Sanelisiwe, on Juta Street. 7. Fashion sales rep, Andile Langa, outside Neighbourgoods Food Market in Braamfontein.
Photos by Reatlegile Rakitla.
Illustration by Ayanda Msibi.
The reality of the male gaze by Claire O’Reilly
ou know what I absolutely love? Being looked over unapologetically by strangers. Having sets of eyes tracing me without a single blink from one end of campus to the other, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes me feel. “Being looked at like a sexual, inanimate object is so sexy and empowering and it just makes me feel so good inside, you know?” — said no female ever. Countless times, strolling on campus (or pretty much anywhere) a woman may notice in reality what can be referred to as the male gaze. The male gaze is an extraordinary term coined by feminist filmmaker, Laura Mulvey. It describes the visual objectification of women in art and film created by heterosexual males. Sadly, one does not have to watch a 1970s film to see the male gaze at work. The exploitation of the female form for and by hegemonic males has been normalised in our broader society and on campus for decades. Truthfully, it is hurtful to see how many girls criticize themselves first before reflecting on the degrading actions of others. A student from a group of females interviewed on campus, who wished to remain anonymous, said hesitantly, “It makes me feel
like there is something wrong with me. I like crop tops and miniskirts and when I get looked at like that I immediately think, maybe I shouldn’t be wearing this.” Trying to offer an understanding of this idea from the opposite gender, Mphati Yengwa shared that he felt this is a very narcissistic trait that only some men have and other men don’t notice. Yengwa has witnessed the male gaze in society, manifested in the form of whistles, under-the-breath comments, inappropriate conversation about women’s bodies and unwelcome, sexualized questions that are meant to be “just an irrelevant, friendly joke”, Mphati said whilst shaking his head. “This is the reason women say men are trash and then guys still get offended, like, seriously?” he said. Although rape culture and institutionalised patriarchy are such important and sensitive topics on campus, the subtlety of a man staring at your exterior inappropriately isn’t spoken about very often. Even that ‘discreet’ moment when a male in a club, who you have no association with, feels that it is fine to caress your bum with his hands, and expects you to ignore it. Shockingly, a video trended on YouTube recently, titled, ‘Men and the power of the visual’, that tried to justify male
hypersexuality. The video tries to justify men’s continuous sexualisation of the female form by claiming that they are naturally stimulated by visual pleasures and cannot help their behaviour. Another anonymous female student shared a story that made her feel completely objectified. A boyfriend of one of the girls in her residence bites down on his lip every time she walks past him in the corridor. He proceeds to stare at her intensely whenever his girlfriend is looking the other way. More disturbingly, the rest of the girls in the group testified that a similar event had occurred in their lives, more than once, with numerous men. It is unbelievable that this is an accepted social norm. Gift Baloyi, a feminist and law student at The University Still Known As Rhodes (USKAR), spoke passionately about this topic and even turned to Tsonga, her home language, to express how strongly she felt, “Swa hlamarisa
swaku munhu wo ka a ngaku tivi i ta ku bhuka ngaku wova xilo xo ka xi nga hanyi xo gana na nyama. Hiswaku sa ndzi silika,” she said.
This directly translates to, “It is shocking how a complete stranger can objectify you by looking at you like a piece of meat. It really pisses me off.”
Sharon Shirima, another feminist Rhodes student, said that this reality of the male gaze finds its roots in the way that males have been socialized. “Men would be appalled if we had to look at them like that, maybe it would be the wake-up call a lot of them need,” said Shirima. Catcalling, unwelcome comments and inappropriate touching are big problems faced by women in this day and age, but many wonder how harmful a single demeaning gaze can be. Besides the fact that it makes women feel uncomfortable, in true respect, it is less about the gaze and more about the discourse behind it. A poll conducted on the (USKAR) Facebook page resulted in 53 participants saying that they felt objectified by a male’s gaze more than once a week.
It is shocking how a complete stranger can objectify you by looking at you like a piece of meat.
Sex in music:
Janelle Monae is a Dirty Computer by Toby Ngomane
ew age music presents new age sex. The way women have been presented in pop music in the past has always been as the objects of the male lead’s affection or simply as a love interest. Very rarely are women at the centre of these narratives—black women even less so. Most music sexualises the black female body; it has become a site of objectification for the male. A ‘big booty’ is what they are reduced to, as though they cannot define their sensuality for themselves. Even with female musicians, when they create their own work, the narrative presented is that of the love interest focused on the male counterpart. Even rarer in mainstream music is the discussion of female sexuality. Janelle Monae, however, is on a
warpath and she is set on redefining that narrative. The 32 year old actor, musician and overall creative is breathing new life into the portrayals of women in mainstream media. Monae, who recently came out publicly as queer, tackles issues of representation, understanding, sexuality and sensuality, particularly for black women, through her music and music videos. She is shifting the attention from the infamous ‘bootylicious video vixens’ to a more nuanced and new depiction of black female sensualities. A more honest sensuality. Monae released the music video for her song, ‘Make Me Feel’, leading up to the launch of her latest album, Dirty Computer. The story is of a bisexual woman (Monae), torn between a man
and a woman (played by Tessa Thompson, who she is rumoured to be in a relationship with) is truly unflinching in its exploration of black queer female sexuality. This electrifying music video was followed by the release of an even more provocative music video for the song, ‘Pynk’. Monae kicks it up a notch in ‘Pynk’, creating an entirely pink world inhabited by black women only. With its striking visuals and suggestive lyrics, this video is a stunning homage to the vagina. “Pink like the inside of your, baby…Pink like the tongue that goes down, maybe” are some of the song’s lyrics. Monae and her backup dancers, which include Tessa Thompson, wear voluminous pink pants that deliberately resemble a vagina. Monae’s work continues to
pave the way for feminist self-love and appreciation, and respect for women. She consciously moves away from the narrative of women existing to please men, as well as destroying the myth that women can only be attracted to men. She describes ‘I like that’, another song from Dirty Computer, as being “inspired by wack-ass fuckboys everywhere (from the trap house to the White House) who make the lives of little brown girls so damn hard. Like they told y’all back in those Black Women’s studies classes... BUT SOME OF US ARE BRAVE”. Monae’s album was released on the 27th of April, 2018, a day that marked the release of her first album in 2013.
The cover art for Monae’s single, Django Jane. Image courtesy of Atlantic Records, illustration by Ayanda Msibi.
HAIR You cannot love a vagina unless you love hair. Many people do not love hair. My first and only husband hated hair. He said it was cluttered and dirty. He made me shave my vagina. It looked puffy and exposed and like a little girl. This excited him. When he made love to me my vagina felt the way a beard must feel. It felt good to rub it and painful. Like scratching a mosquito bite. It felt like it was on fire. There were screaming red bumps. I refused to shave it again. Then my husband had an affair. When we went to marital therapy, he said he screwed around because I wouldn’t please him sexually. I wouldn’t shave my vagina. The therapist had a German accent and gasped (Gasp.) between sentences (Gasp.) to show her empathy. She asked me why I didn’t want to please my husband. I told her I thought it was weird. I felt little when my hair was gone down there and I couldn’t help talking in a baby voice and the skin got irritated and even calamine lotion wouldn’t help it. She told me marriage was a compromise. I asked her if shaving my vagina would stop him from screwing around. I asked her if she had many cases like this before. She said that questions diluted the process. I needed to jump in. She was sure it was a good beginning. This time, when we got home, he got to shave my vagina. It was like a therapy bonus prize. He clipped it a few times and there was a little blood in the bathtub. He didn’t even notice it ’cause he was so happy shaving me. Then, later, when my husband was pressing against me, I could feel his spiky sharpness sticking into me, my naked puffy vagina. There was no protection. There was no fluff. I realized then that hair is there for a reason — it’s the leaf around the flower, the lawn around the house. You have to love hair in order to love the vagina. You can’t pick the parts you want. And besides, my husband never stopped screwing around.
‘Hair’ is one of the monologues from Eve Ensler’s 1996 episodic play, ‘The Vagina Monologues’.
Meet The Team Toby Ngomane is currently enrolled at the University Still Known As Rhodes (USKAR) and is working towards his degree in Drama, English and Journalism and Media Studies. He has written for The Star and hopes to continue in the field of Journalism. Toby is also a performer and has been part of numerous award winning shows that have performed at the National Arts Festival. He has worked with award winning choreographer Gary Gordon. He believes that not enough is being done to educate people about sexaul health and that what is being done, is done callously. He hopes that the ideas around sex and sexual education change for the better.
Reatlegile Rakitla is a passionate second year student at the University Still Known As Rhodes (USKAR). Currently majoring in Drama and Journalism and studying isiXhosa and Sound Technology. She is a multifaceted academic and content creator. Her skills include photography, graphic design, writing and drawing. Her passion lies in creating and actively participating. Rea is a published poet and a multi-award winning artist, dancer/ choreographer and director. She has written for VuZu Entertainment and Vision View production house. She believes in open and positive conversations about sex and sexual health and education, and looks forward to a world of sex-positivity.
Ayanda Msibi is a second year Journalism and Media Studies student from Pretoria. The former medical student and bookstore clerk found her calling, finally, in the written word. She hasn’t looked back since. Now, Ayanda is studying towards a BA from the University Still Known As Rhodes (USKAR), majoring in English and Psychology. She is an award-winning illustrator and published writer, and has worked for Grahamstownbased newspaper, Grocott’s Mail. She hopes, one day, to author and illustrate delightful books for children. Ayanda believes in sex- and body-positivity for everyone. She wants to get people talking about what is often treated as a taboo subject in South Africa, with openness and acceptance.
Claire O’Reilly is studying towards a Bachelor of Journalism and Media Studies degree at USKAR. She also studies Psychology, isiXhosa and Drama. Claire has interned at the Tame Times newspaper in Johannesburg and hopes to travel after her studies and create documentaries on a variety of topics. She was invited to speak on Cliff Central on behalf of the Johannesburg Junior Council, a nongovernmental NPO. She hopes one day to have enough influence to fight the censorship in media. Claire’s passions include environmental conservation, women’s rights, the arts, fashion and, of course, the topic of sex. Claire believes society should speak more openly about sex and sexuality. She hopes this magazine will stimulate healthy conversation around the topic.
Winter Issue 2018
A magazine exploring our different sensualities, while celebrating the female form.