Touch Yourself – Because it’s good for you

Kagure Mugo, Feminism, Masturbation
Kagure Mugo

By Kagure Mugo

‘Get your hands away from there.’

This is the reprimand we have gotten since we were small girls, curious about what was going on between our thighs.

Boobs? Sure. Legs? Cool. Hips? Fine. But this vagina thing…with its ability to change temperature, moisture levels and make you tingle all over, what is it? What is it about?

Unfortunately we were never allowed to know.

There is a need to have conversations around all the taboo around masturbation to break that taboo down. So this is for everyone who touched themselves and felt bad about it. Everyone who was told off for digging for pleasure, everyone who was told only boys spank the monkey. For every woman who heard they would grow hair on the palms of their hands.

Masturbation is vilified. You know it’s bad when even the boys are not allowed to do it, and they are seemingly allowed to do anything. But gender relations aside the idea of masturbation is so powerful it had to be shut down and fast. Because with masturbation women can make sex fantastic.

And then the world might end. And anarchy will ensue.

Or not.

With the idea of pleasure being marketed as a male dominated activity and women seemingly picking up the scraps there is a need to change the phallocentric approach to sex.

The vagina is a powerful cosmic space which people must respect and understand, especially those who have them. You need to be well educated in the way it works but you cannot get an education without taking some classes. And unfortunately some things are better learned on a practical level.

Masturbation is sex with someone you should love, deeply and wildly. It is about taking back your sexual power and your sexy and knowing what makes you tick so you know what time you are coming.

This chat is to tackle that stigma surrounding masturbation, give some tips and open the space to have that conversation. Because late at night, when you just want a little taste of your own awesome and you take it, you are really not the only one.

So you really should go right ahead.

Don’t feel guilty about it. Or do, if that’s what gets you off.


Join in the dialogue this evening on masturbation. 7pm South African time. Follow the hashtags #TouchUrself and #SexTalkNaija

Kagure Mugo is the intoxicatingly scary gatekeeper of HOLAAfrica, an online Pan African queer womanist community dealing with sexuality and all things woman.

She is also a writer and freelance journalist who tackles sex, politics and other less interesting topics. During weekends she is a wine bar philosopher and polymath for no pay.


20 March – feminist reading list for the morning

read me

1. A guide for foul mouthed feminists – click here

2. Gender angle for premiership race – click here

3. Have you ever used sex to get something that you want – click here

4. Men that rape are our fathers, lovers – click here

5. ANC Women’s League – what have you done for women’s rights lately – click here

6. Will the new Global Development Paradigm do anything to improve the lives of young women? – click here

7. The feminist declaration for the Post 2015 development goals – click here

8. New website on sex, rights and the internet – click here

9. Why we have too few women in leadership – click here

10. On catcalling – no I’m not asking for it, and no it’s not a fucking compliment – click here

Lizl Morden

The case of Kenny Kunene and the 15 girlfriends

Lizl Morden
Lizl Morden

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

Gabriella Razzano

Open season on open legs

Gabriella Razzano
Gabriella Razzano

By Gabriella Razzano

On Wednesday I read, perhaps, the most painfully terrible article I have every read. Promoted by Women24 actively on the main news page, the piece was by a Michael Kennedy with the already vomit-inducing title: Are you getting laid?

According to Michael, women in this country are frustrated because we are not fucking enough. I think Michael may have gotten confused between ‘getting fucked over’ and fucking. To suggest, even for a second, that the general frustrations of women may be because we aren’t having enough sex is so enraging I don’t know who to throw my Birkenstock at.

To be less trite, the assault on women in South Africa is pervasive and obvious. There is not a day that goes by when I am not sexually harassed in some form by a stranger on the street. More horrific are the endemic sexual assaults and incidences of rape perpetuated on our gender. The bodies of South African women are the property of South African men.

Yet the subjugation of our physical bodies extends even to the very websites claiming to forward our interests. That Women24 think its is in the interests of women to read an article in which the male author admits it is based on the perceived ‘problem’ that most of his male friends aren’t getting shagged enough (although for depth of his research cases he does helpfully note “reading the Women24 Forums, it is clear a lot of women aren’t getting any either”), only contributes to the state of atrocity.

As Michael notes, a healthy sex life is good for relationships. However, it becomes very clear that there is no desire to examine what is good for women generally, or even what is good for their sexual selves. This is of course validated by his conviction, blatantly false to many women, that our sex lives would be best advanced through more sex with men (as opposed to women, or ourselves).

He provides no actual knowledge about what is happening in the sexual lives of South African women, although he does seem to find time to read a lot of News24 comments, which already indicates a form of sociopathic tendencies. Nor does he provide any solution to our apparent ubiquitous frigidity outside of “[women should] take their cues from men – don’t over evaluate or examine sex”. Instead, his incisive commentary notes:

“Why would men not get any if women are so openly accepting of 50 Shades [of Grey]?”.

And therein lies the rub (excuse the pun): at its heart, his article is about the audacity of South African women to not allow open season on our open legs. This is making everyone frustrated and that, apparently, is just not on.

This is part of a broader damaging discourse, which seeks to re-wrap the subjugation of women as ‘sexual liberation’, most often for purely male benefit (such as the benefit of Michael’s mates). It is often motivated too by profit, which when given the fact that Michael’s twitter says he wants us all to have “happy sex”, and he is clearly the visionary here to help us with that, is apparently at work here too. What is perhaps the most revolting aspect of this piece is the underscoring motivation revealed from the first lines when Michael describes the ‘patently’ sexually frustrated woman who had the cheek to cut him off in traffic: Michael doesn’t want any form of female aggression to hinder his drive home. So we should open our legs, dammit.

If Women24 really cares about the sexual needs of its female readers they might be better disposed to sourcing an article, from its female readers, entitled: “The actual things that dry up my vagina”. I think  “men like Michael Kennedy” may end up being one of the submitted answers.

Jen Thorpe

Never tired enough to stop

Jen Thorpe
Jen Thorpe

By Jen Thorpe

I am tired of rape in South Africa. I am tired of thinking about it, reading about it, hearing about it. I am tired of the fact that last year over sixty thousand women (enough to fill the Greenpoint stadium) reported a rape to the police, and hundreds of thousands more women were raped but did not report.

I am tired of a criminal justice system that is failing women. Of a police system that fails women – traumatizes them, blames them, and rejects their right to bodily integrity. Of a police system that drops cases, fails to investigate or fumbles investigations to the point where the information is not useful in court. I am tired of a court system that doesn’t fund enough support rooms so that many survivors must walk into a court room alone to face the magistrate who is meant to protect them, but often does not. Who would want to report a rape in conditions like this?

I am tired of people asking me if most women become lesbians because they have been raped, and of reading stories where men rape lesbians to make them straight.

I am tired of women leaders in government who spend more time defending male politicians reputations, than acting with integrity in the interests of women.

I am tired of law and policy that doesn’t serve women, isn’t implemented, or is useless against the public opinion that a woman’s body is not her own.

I am tired of violence against women being ignored at key opportunities. I am tired of male political leaders who fail to condemn rape at ever opportunity, or who jump on the women’s day bandwagon as though this is meaningful.

I am tired of the rape of girls and boys and babies and the elderly. I am tired of magistrates who don’t protect these vulnerable people and others by imprisoning rapists because their victims did not show any physical injury. Rape is an injury.

I am tired of knowing that if a male celebrity, sports star, or politician is charged with rape, he will get away with it.

I am tired of bigots who say all feminists believe sex is rape – as though we are so fucking stupid to want rights for women that we must not be able to tell the difference between having pleasurable, stimulating sex and being violated.

I am tired of trying to convince men that rape is not only a woman’s issue. It is men who are raping. Rape is at its core a men’s issue. It is the failure of men to accept that their manhood need not be founded on violence. It is the failure of men to accept a woman’s right to say no, to ask them to stop. It is a failure of good men to bring up rape and sex in discussion – discussion, not jokes – and to talk about what they can do to stop it.

I am tired of media reports that say things like ‘forcibly raped’. One in three women across the globe has been a victim of rape. Some have survived, others have not. Some spend their lives in fear, waiting for their turn. In all cases force was used – psychological, economic, physical – the force of a system that will not listen to them.

I am tired of rape jokes. There is nothing funny about rape. I am tired of advertising that portrays rape as glamorous, or woman as sex objects. Rape is unwanted, violent, soul destroying. It is not sexy. Women are not objects.

I am tired of having to plead for changes. Of having to frame woman as mothers, sisters, daughters or as in relation to men – ‘what about if it was your girlfriend’. I am tired of having to make it seem as though you shouldn’t rape women because they are nice too.

So on the 14th of February I’ll be supporting One Billion Rising – a movement that will voice its frustration with all of these things. Because I am tired, but I will never be tired enough to stop fighting for women’s right to sexual pleasure, sexual freedom and sexual equality.

Join the discussion. Tell us why you’re tired of rape here.

*Inspired by this piece.