Stephen Rothenburg  
Zanele Mashinini

Zanele Mashinini


Let's face it, sex is beautiful, love is the fire that keeps us alive and intimate relationships are a gateway to healthy hearts. Nevertheless, there are multiple issues bedeviling the world of relationships of which love and sex are the main characters.

Reels and reels of episodes have muscled themselves onto the movie that is love, sex and intimate relationships. For instance, these words might have different meanings in a poor community than in a well to do community, or in a rural setting and a suburban society.

For instance, if I happen to stay in a shack, what separates my expression of intimate sex with my wife is a curtain. And my kids are in fact exposed to the sordid chapter of screams and moaning as both my wife and I make love How do these children grow up, does exposure to our love making affect them when they become adults?

In the streets of our cities, there are children whose existence is dependent on eking a living selling their bodies. What aspect of these children's' love life and sex life is nurtured? In the socialization arena, would such children understand what intimacy is?

In the cover of the night, different sex activities are performed between the bedspreads. Couples take different risks and undertake all kinds of experiments. To some a thin line separates love from sex and intimate relationships.

The latest “sex craze” cuts both ways, it is a pastime enjoyed by people from all walks of lives. We have orgies in our communities. Some people get a hard on and salivate at the thought of sharing lovers. That is why “swinging” this is a love making session where sex partners are exchanged. Both adults and young school girls and boys engage in what is called “lipsticks” (a young boy by sporting different colours of make up, demonstrates he has slept with many girls.

Let's then, examine what is happening in the love, sex and intimate relationship arena.

For love, is now a commodity packaged for the gratification of commercial forces. Its present meaning is privatized, and at worst, incongruous speculators, who determine its market value, feast upon its remnants.

The media, traditionalist, fundamentalists, conformist, unrepentant sex orthodox, lusty lose souls, ‘players' and those who are deeply spiritual feel they have a stake in the intimate relationships realm.

One witness daily these groups on each other's throat baying for the blood, soul and hearts of love, sex and intimate relationships. This tug of war presents an interesting scenario; these self-proclaimed ‘market leaders' sell the world their ambiguous sensual knock and drop lines.

Essentially the media, as if ‘government of love' has taught us with its creative sex and love products: that erotic and explicit ads (influences sexual tastes of people.) Their choice of sexy story lines, convinces us unequivocally that sex is feast for fun.

(This sensual line is sold in an environment, where one in four girls of school going age gets pregnant, before the age of twenty-one. The glorifying of sexual images by the media fly in the face of youngsters particularly girls presenting with HIV infects and accounting for a sizeable number of those living with HIV and AIDS.)

Traditionalists' voices wails loud and clear agitating, in villages and in outposts' areas, rumbling steadfastly, advocating asserting that a ‘real man' need marry large numbers of women and such a custom defines who we are.

(Such make believe cultural norm planted in the minds of people at a time when AIDS decimate a community with our statistics forever on the rise.)

Furthermore, holier than thou fundamentalists not wanting to be undone, contend that no love, no sex, no condoms and no intimate relationship before marriage. Without arming congregates with necessary life- skills.

(This spiritual preaching, relayed in a world where sex, infiltrates and rears its head onto the pulpit to competing with moral judgment in the holy ground. The question is: How many times have some of those who preach abstinence, on their own will, have continue to betray their values, because they were caught in the act, with pants down, after deliberately working their ways onto the hearts of vulnerable children? Hells', heavens' of this earth!) _____________

Conformists on the one hand, campaign vigorously for their space in the whole sex saga; they go with what is fashionable! To them, if it means having a society were screwing around indiscriminately and walking around with love bites, is second nature, so be it, they will be wildly happy.

(Their shocking and strange ‘I don't care approach' harboured when bodies of our loved ones, who die of AIDS related infections feed a vast track of land with burial ground about to become a scarce commodity.)

Unrepentant sex orthodox sing their lungs out, their onslaught tunes aptly titled ‘love is artificial', is supported by their ballads ‘life is short enjoy it with a compulsive sex drive for as long as it last.'

They go on to chorus: ‘intimate relationships were design for people to be sucked into the system of marriage.' Their favourite tune takes them to dozen bedspreads to kick-start their campaign of sleazy sex.

(Their act is undertaken in a world touched by a thankless virus, which kills indiscriminately children, youth and adults with impunity and mercilessly.)

To the lusty lose souls, nothing stops them from indulging in what they call supplement food for body; they clinically plan their moves, however labourious. They pledge love to all and warm their ways on dozens hearts of those they profess to love. After, banging their unsuspecting lovers all in the name of intimate relationships they disappear from the radar. They operates from funerals, weddings or parties and wherever they lay their feet.

(For some good measure, they forget one fundamental lesson in this life, that hospital occupancy rate is so high because of AIDS patient whose daily intake is baffles the mind. One thing though no one is immune from AIDS.)

The ‘players', an astute army of smooth operators, who swear by their good looks and fat bank balances, chase the quota, their desire is to plant as many children all over the shores, They readily admit to enjoying tasting multiple partners and proudly proclaimed to have generously dispatch their sperms for its their God given right to do likewise. The motto binding together these hordes are: frolic with them! flirt with them! fondle them! fuck them! and fool them full time!

(In times of AIDS, these ‘players' play a game of Russian roulettes in spite of the fact that we are all prime candidate of HIV and AIDS infections.)

In addition the deeply spiritual lot, loathe the free for all sexual encounter; they hold the institution of love high as a sacred mysticism. To this crowd love is love and not a foundation built on shifting sand blowing all over for love sake.

However, no matter how they glorify the monogamous relationship, love nowadays is instant, sex nowadays is instant, and intimacy nowadays is instant. Like instant coffee, the granite of love dissolves soon after hot water land on them. The ‘instant coffee phenomenon' sees people smooching some bodies this minute and resting on the one they claim to love and whisper, “I love you!” and instantaneously bombing out and disappeared from their (cup)id's hearts, only to have a ‘instant quickie' with another body.

In modern times, love bleeds profusely and permanently in the altar of expediency. In the same breath, on the love and sex arena, it's about whose son or daughter you are?

Young girls look for someone to supply them with gifts and these individuals must have status to complement the girl's insatiable appetite for material.

Young boys on the one hand also want to outclass their opposite number by sleeping with sugar mommies, and the remunerations are attracting, they get pampered, treated like royalty, and be left empowered economically.

Parents who understand the scale of the economy of love, sex and intimate relationships have also entered the struggle. They predetermine the pathway their offspring are to take in the trenches of intimate relationship by ordering them like seasoned commissar not to be ambushed by ‘lackluster' spouses who will offer nothing.

The truth of the matter is: by way of control, a sizeable number of parents insist unapologetically to their children to pick someone with a healthy pocket, as opposed to someone with a depleted pocket, the one supposedly who will be burdensome and become a baggage to the family concern.

It has becomes scandalous in some households for some to witness their clan's name and heritage associated with so-called underprovided in-laws! If their brood dates someone who is deemed insignificant in the social equation, such an individual gets marginalised.

Be that as may be, on the contrary, love is said to love without any set of parameter. Sex is said to be a sacred expedition that must be enjoyed by two hearts that beat as one. With, intimate relationships christened conglomerate of emotive feeling of happiness able to passionately write poetry that flows in the veins of partners who are close to one another.

Nowadays, one observes in awe as scorn is thrown on the doorstep of those who dare challenge the present status quo, permeating the love and sex zones, which shouts, please no strings attach! People go for the kill, its no longer the question of love, its now lets do it for the fun of it.

Affection, enthusiasm and elegancy that were once the characteristics of love, sex and intimate relationship are no longer such noble elements. What is the outcome of liberalisation and democratization of love?

People argue we live in a global village and change is inevitable. We are urged and told, you can now enjoy sex through the Intern et with someone abroad. You are asked, why not move with the times, love and sex does not at all equal cuddling.

The sex toy industry is booming, you could buy sex toys and help yourself, without having to wait for that call, which may not come. These competing options make love, sex and intimate relationships a hard buy.

Juxtapose our present environment with what is on offer in the market place, you realize the future does not look bleak but chances are the landscape is changing rapidly.

Some individuals prefer to buy semen from the sperm bank to manufacture their children. Naturally, the aroma associated with love and sex becomes inadequate (it just becomes an act of cognitive dissonance).

The family structure has become a weak thread as cohabitation becomes an option of choice. If those in these arranged associations are not satisfied with each other's sex drive, they move on! This scenario has contributed to love and sex becoming an issue of economics.

The beautiful and colourful weaving in the tapestry of intimate relationship is soiled and bears marks of tears all over. The body of intimate relationship lies comatose, extremely sick, love coughs, collapses on sex, all wheeled to the intensive care theatre to be resuscitated.

For once, the status attached to love, sexuality and intimate relationship represents overwhelming amnesia. The revolving door of arranged love; threatens the social fabric of sexuality and intimate relationship. The open season in the ‘faculty of love' has pooh poohed intimate relationships and pronounced negatively on sexuality, a once lovable activity bonding two souls as one.

Of late, no one is expected to invest feelings, passion and emotions on love. Practically, sex is sold like beverages on street corners. Men of all shapes and sizes drooling to the core, drive around looking for love and sex and intimate relationships in sordid areas, whilst their lovable partners are clutching bouquet of love flowers.

Nonetheless, the intimate relationship is now about politics of what the media interprets as best practices. The price tag and the premium set on both the love and sexual activities deplete the pockets and reduce intimacy into insignificance.

The trend of commercialization of love and sex is planted and etched like a tattoo on body and mind of men and women, by media, its either you submit or die. Nowadays it is no longer, a question of “I love you!” it a question of “I lick you!”

The traditional roles of love have been ripped apart in the trajectory of inconsistency and misinformation. Repeatedly we witness how love is miscarried on the altar of expediency and no one dares mourns its shameful demise.

Divorce has now become a norm, as society fails to live by its vows. “Until death do us part” is a run off the mill declaration that now means until my dick falls apart.

The amniotic-fluids meant to incubate love, sex and intimacy now experiences no love. Love dies in the embryonic stage slowly before growing. Sex is patented and owned by pimps who trade on innocent women and children.

In the same breathe sex lies like a wasteland with no one in sight to help resuscitate it. I am the first to contend sex is beautiful, however the alphabet that has become a surrogate cousin to sex – AIDS, HIV and STI has become a new player.

Once again, we have not seen people shying away from painting the town red with their behaviour. An intimate relationship is a commodity found in taxi ranks, trains, beer halls, workplaces and places of worships.

Intimacy has now developed a new meaning. People influenced by divergent viewpoints want to emulate their role models. The media feeds us a frenzy of hunks who sleep around without condoms.

Quite remarkable, the urban legend feed us a delicacy of sumptuous diet. We are told that curves are delicious and worth all the trouble on earth. Frankly, the myths on love, sex and intimate relationship can fills reels of pages.

The streetwise ‘ingenious sex' experts who concoct their diatribe by implying that your physical appearance counts, insinuate that big mouth, big feet and big whatever (my guess is as good as yours) suggests someone is gifted in the private parts department (and it worth dying for these few human species, because they are hot under the sheets!). Now you witness people not looking for love but looking for features.

This may sound disharmonious; but the grapevine has at one stage feed us this diet, that matter of fact sound cheap and intolerant. We were made to believe that our brothers from across the continent are well endowed and hot. A penis envy debate ensued where some of the locals did not take kindly to such supposition. And you may ask what is the moral story here, the love, sex and intimate relationship has its own form of prejudice a theory that takes many shapes and forms.

Trivial issues such as who rules the loves, sex and intimate relationship regime unsettle people in the dating arena. Insalubrious remarks form an integral power play in the battle of who rules the love sector.

The exploits of the media in carrying in-depth stories of a woman, who dated one hundred and fifty men, demonstrates what stuff love is made of. If you do not show any sex prowess, forget it, you will not be a role model.

On a lighter note, on line dating getting so much attention, individuals just pick up a dozen partners at a click of a button. Have sex with them wherever they are. When all is said and done, we are living in interesting times.

The world has to redefine love, sex and intimate relationship. The religious sector, youth, politicians and everybody has to come on board and be part of the debate. Because, the institution of love, sex and intimate relationship has undergone a face change.

Urbanisation, poverty, unemployment, globalization and empowerment of women have transformed the demographics of love, sex and intimate relationships. Daily commentators, shocked to their wits by incest, rapes of both minors and adults, the abuse of women and children, ask repeatedly what has become of love? What went wrong with sexuality? Where is intimate relationship?

Well there is no need to despair, the present scenario is an episode, that marks a time and space we are in. Pretty soon this period may give us a lesson on nurturing love, nourishing sex and nursing our intimate relationships!



Zanele Mashinini was born in one of the oldest townships in Soweto (Orlando East). He was tutored non-formally and formally by a number of leading South African cultural practitioners, including Cyril Manganyi, Mzwakhe Nhlabatsi, Kevin Humphrey and George Hallet. Zanele Mashinini artistic creations were used extensively on banners, posters and struggle material in the eighties. His work has been exhibited both locally and internationally, and most recently held a solo exhibition entitled Sexuality for Sale at the Kyalami.