Kenny Kunene’s comments on rape require investigation

Jen Thorpe

Jen Thorpe

By Jen Thorpe

NUMBER 1 – Transactional sex is not only really uncool, it is also really dangerous

Kenny Kunene went on Noleen last week with five of his fifteen girlfriends (who he only likes to be under the age of 24). Multiple concurrent partners are, as we all should know by now (yet a certain Simply Red song echoes), very risky in terms of the transmission of sexually transmitted infection and HIV. HIV tests as we know must take place regularly, which KK and crew say they do, but as we also know HIV has a window period where your blood does not reflect anti-bodies. Thus whilst KK sleeps with 15 people, and they sleep with 15 people, and they sleep with 15 people, a lot of sexual juices are being paid forwards. Because women’s vaginas have a larger surface area for exposure to the virus than male penises (especially very tiny ones) they are more likely to contract the virus. This is just plain stupid sexual behaviour in a country with such high HIV infection rates. I understand that, as adults consenting to sex, we make choices about whether we will practice it safely, but as far as I am ­concerned unsafe sex with multiple partners is not safe or sexy.

Why is this sex transactional? Transactional sex is defined as ‘sex with a partner which was primarily motivated by material gain, defined as provision of food, cosmetics, clothes, transportation, items for children or family, school fees, somewhere to sleep, or cash.’ It seems clear from the recent media coverage of the situation that these women receive numerous financial and economic rewards for being part of the group. In addition, those he favours are able to recruit others into the group. He has stuff, they don’t. It’s unequal for all the reasons that Lizl Morden spells out here. The emphasis on collecting women as objects of his desire clearly indicates that his masculinity is founded on problematic ideas of sexuality where men consume women, and where male virility and sexual prowess at the expense of narratives on women’s pleasure, and at the expense of women’s health. It means that his masculinity is only really as good as the number of women he can sleep with.

NUMBER 2 – Threatening someone’s wife with gang rape ignores the experience of rape survivors, and incites violence. Once again I am reminded, as I was with Durex’s cock up two years ago, that violence against women remains a joke to most South Africans, and that there is little understanding of the connection of social messages that sanction this violence (eg invite men to use their penises as a weapon) to the violence itself. Threatening someone with gang rape incites violence. Acting as if this is no big deal promotes myths that rape is not a serious crime. Something that I said back then sadly still applies:

Norms and myths sustain our social identities. They help us understand the expected interactions between ourselves and others. Norms are themselves sustained by our actions. It is a self-perpetuating cycle. Norms that say men’s most important attribute is their penis, and that a woman better celebrate that by taking what she can get, are part of rape culture, which I argue is bad for everyone.

South Africa has an incredibly powerful rape culture. This culture is sustained by many things: low conviction rates for perpetrators, an unpleasant criminal justice system that alienates survivors and reduces reporting, a history of South African violence, and inequality among the sexes. It is also sustained by our laughter at jokes that condone violence against women. Rape is not funny.

NUMBER 3 – Describing his own consensual sex fest as rape further illustrates his ignorance, and diminishes the experience of rape survivors

In one swift move his tweet undermines gang rape survivors trauma, pain and suffereing, and tries to suggest that they should have enjoyed it whilst they could. Saying you get ‘gang raped’ all the time and enjoy it reinforces problematic myths about rape that say that it is enjoyable for the victim. In addition, it ignores that a lack of consent is key in rape, and that a consensual sexual situation is not rape. According to Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust’s website, myths about rape have powerful negative effects for survivors that affect their healing and increase prejudice against them. In other words, the promotion of social norms that encourage violence increase the likelihood that a survivor will suffer secondary trauma and will experience rape trauma syndrome.

NUMBER 4 – Sex with minors under the age of 16 is statutory rape, and a crime under Sexual Offences Act 32 0f 2007

On Phat Joe’s show last week, Kenny Kunene admitted to sleeping with some of his students whilst he was an English teacher. He admitted that some of these students may have been under the age of 16. Section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act states that any person (A) who commits an act of sexual penetration with a child (B) is, despite the consent of B to the commission of such act, guilty of the offence of having committed an act of consensual sexual penetration with a child. This is commonly known as statutory rape. Section 16 states that any person (A) who commits an act of sexual violation with a child (B) is, despite the consent of B to the commission of such act, guilty of the offence of having committed an act of consensual sexual violation with a child. This is commonly known as statutory sexual assault. Thus, regardless of the fact that a child agrees to the sexual activity, the law does not recognise their ability to consent, and therefore a crime is committed. In addition, all sexual activity without consent is rape.

Conclusion

Kenny Kunene has admitted to being a statutory rapist, and has threatened violence against another woman. Claims of statutory rape should be investigated by the SAPS.

In addition, he should make a full apology, and should be required to make a substantial donation to an NGO working with rape survivors.

Then I think it’s best if he stops talking. For good.

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10 thoughts on “Kenny Kunene’s comments on rape require investigation

  1. Editor says:

    Something raised online was why I assume unprotected sex. It is a very fair point, and of course the sex may be protected.

    However, I think it is important to note that situations of transactional, or highly unequal, sex often diminish the ability of women to negotiate safe condom usage. Thus, although they may want to be safe, they may not be able to enforce that requirement. In addition, the fundamental inequality means that they may not be able to refuse certain types of sexual practices that they do not wish to engage in.

    See Boskey, E (2012) What is the relationship between transactional sex and STDs?, http://www.std.about.com/stdsspecificcommunities/f/transactional-sex-andstds.htm
    for more details on that.

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  2. Mish says:

    Great piece, Jen. Problem I have with this situation (not your post) is that KK is notorious for his misogyny. He’s built his entire reputation on it. Even if a complaint is brought against him by an NGO or some sort of organization, I foresee it panning out similarly to the Malema case – the Equality Courts proved toothless in that scenario. I think we should condemn him and engage with those people that supported his comments. But what else can we do that won’t just build his reputation and infamy?

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  3. Mpho Kubjane says:

    I still find it hard to believe this man was a teacher,the convict bit fits him more.As for the comments-its not the first and it won’t be the last,Kenny Kunene loves attention and will say anything to get himself in the spot light..and to think,so many boys in the township look up to him!Such trash!

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  4. ShamiahPee says:

    Lord have mercy…We women need to learn to put a price on ourselves….
    We are in fact Priceless, money & sex doesn’t define who you are….
    THIS IS SUCH A SHAME…[Lost for words]

    Like

  5. AubreyMoeketsi says:

    u haters need to leave kenny alone…..

    the people u need to be straightening up are your money hungry sisters who chase after rich men……that’s supposed to be “unfeministic” for modern women to be clinging to one rich man….

    we all can relate to kenny’s statement, as soon as a man gets money, every woman in town wants him to the point that he would feel “raped” by these platinum diggers…

    “STRAIGHTEN UP YOUR OWN SISTERS WHO ARE GIVING U FEMINISTS A “BAD NAME”

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    • Mish says:

      Aubrey, I find it really difficult to take anyone seriously who uses the term “u haters” in a debate, but never mind.

      1) KK is a misogynist troll who uses women to bolster his masculinity and apparent sense of self-worth. Yes, these women get something from Kenny, but that doesn’t mean he is less culpable for his abusing his wealth and notoriety to prey on young, less wealthy women.

      2) There is no such thing as “feeling raped”, unless you are, in fact, a victim/survivor of rape. To compare women flocking to your money and power to a war crime is fallacious and trivialises actual rape victims/survivors experiences.

      3) Feminists are not responsible for the actions of all women simply because we are feminists. I can assure you that none of the women who have latched onto KK would self-identify as feminists.

      4) Kenny didn’t make fun of anybody? Really? He explicitly threatened Musi Mmaimane and his wife, and made fun of gang rape. I’m sure every gang rape victim/survivor that read that not only felt that KK was making fun of them and their experiences, but they would’ve been deeply hurt and perhaps traumatised.

      5) This is not a little issue. KK’s comments perpetuate a rape culture that trivialises rape victims/survivors’ experiences. That’s a pretty huge issue.

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  6. AubreyMoeketsi says:

    i dont really understand what angered u guys about kenny’s tweet…..

    kenny spoke about him, he was not making fun of nobody, and that was not supposed to be taken literally, any sensible person could understand what kenny really meant…….

    i feel that there are more serious issues u ppl need to be dealing with ( like educating your money hungry sisters to work their own money) than this little tissue….

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  7. Slaga says:

    I fully agree with Aubrey on this one. Kenny became a teacher at a very young age, and there were school girls who were of his age. it will b wrong to call that a rape, surely they should have reported him. About sleeping/ or having 15 girls at once, i think its those woman’s choice and it should nt b entertained.At least KK TALKS ABOUT IT, cause the r some men who r worse with girls. Until our sisters learn to make their own monies…..

    Like

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