The Sexual Landscape of South Africa.
Why it is, that as women, we have not yet accessed
Not only does the imprint of abuse leave a mark on the victim, it etches into the psyche of children, women, society, generations to come and the men who continue the perpetrator patterning that began long before they were born. Violence, sexual abuse and segregation are not strangers to South Africa's past. The abusive ancestral influence is vivid and resilient, trauma timelines remain etched into our nation's present with their detrimental patterns played out daily. If we are to explore solutions and actively integrate the past and social conditioning, we need to first look at how we have arrived here. How do religion, archetypes, culture and expectations play a part in shaping the sexual Landscape of South Africa?
Imprinted Ideals as Women
As women we are taught to be other than what we truly are, imprinted with false ideologies of what roles and manners a woman should abide by in society. Our coping mechanisms seeded in the pressure of conforming during our formative years would encourage us to veer toward the distorted versions of either the virgin or the whore archetype. Becoming the archetypal ‘good girl’ would allow us to remain accepted and protected by the puritanical belief that chastity means we are free of sin. Should we embody the whore, we would learn to wield our sexuality as a weapon and build our own protective walls against the judgements of others. The fact that we utilise them as coping mechanisms is when it becomes an unhealthy expression of our sexuality - to either deny and restrict ourselves, or fall into promiscuity while giving up a sense of self that would come from the freedom of being able to explore both archetypes without judgement. In truth, we are able to embody both - we can be sexual and spiritual beings, in communion with God and the ‘Yoniverse’.
Religion has invested itself in deterring young women from exploring their innate sexuality and from uncovering the orgasmic power that lies in sensual and sexual awareness. Its semblance of control decrees both young men and women should learn to overcome their sexual urges and ‘sinful actions’ and to choose the path of abstinence with the intention of waiting until marriage. The religious ideology that sex is for procreation is limiting and restrictive. This is akin to a far-too-tight shoe that the wearer is determined will fit because of their belief that it will ensure their transformation from Cinderella to Royalty. Only to discover that their cramped toes cannot be constricted or contained from the innate freedom they deserve. As we’ve seen in countless examples, anything we restrict, comes out in perverse ways.
Social Expectations as Men
The societal expectations of men to be ‘Manne’ debases and discredits the empowered masculine, pressuring them during their formative years with the belief that they are weak or feeble if they cannot control ‘their’ woman. They’re brought up to believe that they are the head of the household and that they have the final decision. The role of their wives include giving them the sexual pleasure they desire, birthing babies and ensuring a clean and tidy home. With men operating at the lowest level of their pleasure potential, addiction, distrust and manipulation breed shallow satisfaction which often ends up being channelled into brutal rage and abuse. There is an immense amount of violence against women - rape and sexual abuse are rampant in African cultures, further exacerbated by trauma bonds, financial constraints and the misplaced sense of entitlement.
These programmes can be seen in the Afrikaans and African cultures to varying extents and drag the lost boy into the underworld of domestic violence, sexual abuse, homicide, unwanted pregnancies and STDs. The false imprint of masculinity has been showcased throughout our ancestry, each new generation picking up the example set by their parents and channelling it into their relationships. Men see their fathers take on the role of dominance, control, force and coercion, treating their wives abusively whether physically, emotionally or psychologically. This imprints into their youthful minds and sets them on a programmed path of replication. There is no space for self awareness, respect or responsibility, the disconnect begins young and is generally amplified with age. And when men become aware of their primal sexual urges, they’ve already learnt that their power comes from taking and dominating.
Rites of Passage
Lost in the widening ravine between boyhood and becoming mature men, there is nor has there been a bridge to guide and support boys in this transformation. Thrown into the gulf of expectation and societal projections, boys have little to no time to learn about and integrate the principles of empowered masculinity. Their course so easily strays into pornography and the semblance of pleasure that it promises when it leads men astray with impossible expectations and distorted ideals while further exacerbating the disconnect from their true masculine power and pleasure potential. This establishes the leaky sexual energy that filters into magazines, movies, callous conversation and craven actions that are so far separated from the respect and honour at the helm pure masculine power. The shockingly classic line, “boys will be boys” speaks to the mentality of our ancestors in relation to gender roles. This notion seeks to absolve men from oppressive, careless and harmful actions while steering them away from self responsibility and the healthy use of their life force energy. The psychological impact it has on both men and women and society adds to the perpetual cycle of trauma and tragedy. This line is still uttered today.
It wasn’t so long ago that violence against women went unacknowledged, was judged without justice and sent swiftly under the rug while the perpetrator was given a light slap on the wrist. This is the example that was set, that lingers in our lineage as women and remains in our muscle memory. The cheapened integrity of judgements and justice showed our grandmothers and mothers that our word as women held no power, that our truth was of no value and that being a victim in violences against our gender incited no call to action. There was no sense of safety, our nervous systems were etched with the foreboding sense of fight or flight and the even stronger awareness that silence seemed safer. When safety isn’t abundantly present, we are not able to open up, nor feel the full expanse of our pleasure or allow another in as we surrender and let go. In order to begin claiming our full sovereignty and explore our pleasure potential, it is important to acknowledge that our history as a gender is woven together with horrifying and harrowing threads. We are a work in progress. We are unlearning and relearning, reconnecting with the principles of intimacy, a way of relating that was not possible for many women in previous generations. We are integrating, cutting cords, and reclaiming the essence and power of the divine feminine and masculine