Boys / Girls / Masculinity / Men / Sexuality

Will you mount me, please? Or the possible relationship between levels of reported sexual violence and sexual activity among the ‘sexually unschooled’?

I am going out on a limb here. Please bear with me. I am thinking aloud, as one would say. This is a hypothesis.
There is an apparent relationship between increased levels of sexual violence, in South Africa at least, and increased sexual activity in a society. The increased sexual activity is likely to be among younger people and the ‘sexually unschooled’. Married people, I am told, don’t have as much sex as singles.
I say apparent because I don’t know of research which examines this relationship.
However, there does appear to be a possible curious relationship between the two: the more young and sexually unschooled people have sex the higher the levels of reported sexual violence there is likely to be. Not great sex, perhaps, but they are having it, as the character in the Nando’s ad said. And I don’t mean that most young people are having bad sex, but I have a suspicion that few 16 year-old males know the difference between labia minora and clitoral hood.
There might well be several survey studies on the relationship between sexual violence and sexual activities. But I know not of any. I will check after this. What I do know of is that young people are having sex.
According to the 2003 South Africa Demographic and Health Survey (SADHS), 45% of males had first sex before age 18. For females the percentage was 42, down from 46% recorded in the 1998 Survey. There was no corresponding figure for males for 1998.
2003 is a while back. However, I suspect that number will not have dramatically changed.
Who knows, though, maybe there has been a significant retreat since 2003, given the levels of sexual violence and HIV. Maybe even fewer young women – and maybe all women – are having sex with men. And, perhaps, more men are having less hetero-sex.
Wouldn’t it be very interesting though to find out that the number has in fact gone up. That more straight young men and women – and hopefully the rest of us – are having more sex even in the face of high levels of reported violence and HIV?
I should mention that 19% of men and 3.1% of women reported 2 or more sexual partners in the previous 12 months before the SADHS. These are men and women who said they were ‘not in union’. Don’t ask me what ‘not in union’ means. Not married? Broadly unattached? Not in relationship? In relationship but looking? I don’t know.
Relatively more recent data comes from the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). In their 2008 HIV Survey the HSRC found high levels of sexual activity among children 15-18 years of age with. A respectable minority of the cohort were also having multiple partners.
‘Alarmingly,’ the HSRC stated, ‘10% of adolescents 12-14 years of age also reported that they were sexually active.’
As an aside, why alarmingly? I know that it is legally prohibited and socially frowned upon for 12-14 year olds to have sex. But one wonders what the right age is exactly, and how we come to decide as a society what the right age is, to be sexual in the sense of coitus. Children are of course sexual in other ways, like touching their genitalia for pleasure.
The Research Council said their Survey showed ‘that among children 12-14 years of age, 10.8% of males and 14.5% of females were sexually active in the year prior to the study.’ More 12-14 year girls than boys were having sex. That is even more illegal today, if it is possible to be more illegal. I am not referring to the fact that more girls than boys are having sex, but that 14 year-olds are having sex.
The HSCR report also indicated that ‘the level of sexual activity was higher in the group 15-18 years of age than for those 12-14 years of age, as expected, with females (26.6%) more sexually active compared with the males (19.4%)’.
Again, more girls/young women than young men were having sex. Of course, this is in part because older males have sex with younger females. That old patriarchal thing.
The last data that helps to make sense of this possible relationship of interest is from the 2nd South African National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey of 2008 conducted by the Medical Research Council (MRC).
That Survey used a nationally representative sample of public school-going children predominantly between the ages 14 and 18 (grades 8, 9, 10 and 11). Among other findings, the MRC researchers reported that 38% of the sample said they had had sex; 13% of these said they were under 14 years of age when they first had sex; 41% of the sexually active said they had at least two sexual partners, 52% had sex in the previous three months, 16% had sex after consuming alcohol, 14% had sex after taking drugs.
Similar to the previous Reports I referred what all that means is young people are having sex, maybe even quite a bit of it. Some of them are having it at a very young age. If you throw alcohol and drugs in the sexual mix, it possibly isn’t great sex young South Africans are having.
This wasn’t meant to tell you about how our country is going down the drains. It isn’t. I don’t think so.
I simply wanted to point a possible area of investigation for myself, and anyone else who may be interested in understanding the intriguing sexual psychology, shall I say, or at least interesting sexual behaviour of females and males in a society reportedly experiencing some of the highest levels of sexual violence in the world.
Which leads me to the questions that interest me: How do individual girls and young women make choices about when to have sex in a context of violence? How do they decide who to have sex with? Why have sex at all in such unhappy times? And is there are choice, or does the prevalence of sexual and gender based violence suggest that they don’t have a real choice?
On the last question, I don’t think they don’t have a choice. What I think is that something far more revealing about the psyche and in our society is happening right before our eyes, and we don’t have the senses to perceive it. The best example to illustrate my point that there is a much more interesting relationship between sex and violence is that we are acting as if people from opposed groups can’t marry or befriend each other. Who is Romeo and Juliet? Did the Hutus and Tutsi not intermarry and have sex before and after 1994? Not very good examples, agreed. But hopefully the point is made.
Look, I don’t for a minute doubt that an unacceptable portion of the sexual activity in South Africa is violent, of course.
However, it is highly unlikely that most sexual intercourse is violent.
A lot of bad intercourse, maybe. Fumbling sex, yes. Not knowing how to ask ‘will you mount me, please?’ of course. But most of it violent? Unlikely.
I also wish to submit that in this current transition our society is undergoing, the more sexuality in public society witnesses – meaning the more sexual images and talk on TV, radio, magazines, page 3 and of course the pornographic content on the web and mobile – the more likely the chances of hearing about sexual violence.
I highlight the societal transition because, truth is, the majority of South Africans have access to 4 television channels only. Satellite TV is for those who like cooking shows.
But the transition as a factor is significant also because most of South Africa men are still grappling with women’s liberation and the idea of children as free and legally equal to adults. We are still learning to appreciate, let alone enjoy, real democracy and equality and all those human rights, especially in our intimate relations and family lives.
It seems to me that the last question is – because questions and not definitive answers are what one is searching for here – shouldn’t we rather encourage more and better sex among the population?
That is, shouldn’t we give advanced classes to young men, mostly but surely also others, about how to ask for sex? About holding hands, kissing, cunnilingus and the possibility of the G-spot, cuddling and talking sex, and away from mvuzanduko, Viagra and masculinity that depends on the ever erect penis?
So, yes, more sex is what I propose to get our society of the sexual violence funk – following more and better sex education.
This is where I will stop. But I think this deserves more thought, yes?

One thought on “Will you mount me, please? Or the possible relationship between levels of reported sexual violence and sexual activity among the ‘sexually unschooled’?

  1. Pingback: Talking dirty: 20 dirty questions to ask a girl and make her | Intimate Affairs Uganda

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