By Lizl Morden
This isn’t about Kenny Kunene. This is about the notion of (young) women as trophies and the example it sets. I believe that what people do in their lives are their business. However,
1) KK is well-known
2) this particular lifestyle decision is being flaunted in public and
3) it can be seen as something to aspire to.
Last week (9 April) on 3talk, Noeleen had a general discussion about whether you can love more than one partner. She started off the discussion by talking to schleb Kenny Kunene and five of his fifteen girlfriends. Yes, you just read 15. Not 15 girlfriends he has ever had, 15 girlfriends he has at the moment. He even said that at one point he had 20–30 girlfriends.
I understand that they are all consenting adults. Yet, this whole thing seems off. He is a sugar-daddy providing wealth, status and a certain lifestyle to women half his age. Someone on twitter raised the point that it could be seen as sexploitation. Kunene is famous, rich, etc. This places him in a position of, at least, economic power over his partners, many of whom appear to be students.
Public opinion on the matter is, unsurprisingly, divided. From lauding KK’s honesty to disgust at the lifestyle and calling the girlfriends whores. The latter reaction is one typical of the patriarchy – the girlfriends are sluts and whores. A man has multiple partners but the women are slut-shamed while the man is applauded for his honesty? I call BS.
In our country the primary concern would be the health risk. But KK assures us that they all, him included, get tested regularly and that ‘the girls’ have to show him their test results. So far, so healthy. But the people, young men or women, who aspire to this lifestyle may not be as careful.
The next issue raised was whether the women could see other people as well. An open relationship means that both (or, as in this case, all) parties involved should be free to see other people. I missed most of the show but I did hear on the radio next day that they’re all free to see as many people as they want as long as they are open and communicate about it. Ok then, equal opportunity philandering.
The discussion was about being able to love more than one person. I don’t believe for one moment that this situation has anything to do with love. KK has a cut-off age, 24, beyond which the woman has to be “something special”. And he gestured to the “something special” 25-year-old next to him to show what that means to him, physically. Secondly, in an article he says that his girls recruit other girls for him. Yeah, sure, recruitment equals love, forgive my cynicism.
Kunene argued that he has a big heart. He said African and Moslem men have big hearts, because polygamy is accepted in certain African/Moslem communities. Sounds like a logical fallacy to me: just because you think having multiple partners is fine, it does NOT mean you have a big heart. It might mean you have a strong libido… Also, there are many African and Moslem men who whose hearts seem to be happy with one woman at a time. A big heart is evident in everyday actions, not by how many people you claim to love at any one time.
I am not going to force my idea of monogamous relationships on anyone, I get that some people don’t do monogamy but there’s also a difference between having several partners and having 15. I doubt that any of those women have any serious kind of power in their relationship with Kunene. They are basically dispensable, an entourage of arm candy that needs protecting with VIP guards and what have you. This is not what an equal relationship looks like. All parties involved should have equal amounts of, let’s call it bargaining power.
Kunene said he does not respond to his girlfriends like a child answering to a parent scolding him. Yet he treats them like children, one woman even said that Kunene can love them all equally like a parent loves all their children equally. Other people have also said this is like a parent equally loving all their children. I am sceptical about this but I do not have children or multiple partners so I cannot say. Anyone with multiple partners and children who agrees or disagrees?
This is not a case of attacking Kunene and his girlfriends’ lifestyle choices, that’s their decision, but about the example this sets for impressionable young people like the women in this situation. Hear me now: you are more than your body. You are your sparkling personality and opinions and weird individual quirks.
I feel sorry for those women. I suppose I should feel sorry for Kunene too. He should know better, he has a kid. How would he feel if his kid decided to live like this? And the women should have the self-worth to realise that living like this is not (emotionally) healthy.
I honestly don’t know why this bothers me so much, after all your choices are your business. I suppose my main worry is what if the sexes were reversed? Do you think 15 young men would agree to be part of an older, wealthy, famous woman’s harem? If they did would public reaction be the same? And what of, heaven forbid, a similar same-sex situation? Imagine, for a moment, a woman going on national TV proudly proclaiming she has 15 boyfriends 20 years young than she is. How would that woman be seen by most people? Would she be praised for being honest about her