Jen Thorpe
Jen Thorpe

Consent is king KK

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

Kenny Kunene went on Noeleen last week with five of his 15 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 antibodies. Thus while 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. 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. This is just plain stupid sexual behaviour in a country with such high HIV infection rates.

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.

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 suffering, and tries to suggest that they should have enjoyed it while 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 while 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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