What? | The blurry line between sex and rape in True Love Magazine

“In November 2010, South Africans were shocked when a video showing two teenage boys allegedly raping a young girl made headlines. The clip, which had been taped at Jules High School in Johannesburg and distributed online, confirmed many parents’ worst nightmare; very young kids are having sex on school premises, and, moreover, they’re being reckless, unsafe, and ignorant.’

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“SEX in schools – The (not nearly) terrifying (enough) truth”

What?
When I read the beginning of this article, titled “The Kids Aren’t Alright” in January 2013’s issue of True Love magazine I didn’t immediately understand why I got so ferociously angry at its author for having put it like this. I mean, the rest of the article itself is an informative report by Jaqueline Cochrane on the state of South Africa’s sex education, and relatively harmless except for this one paragraph. But it is precisely this one paragraph that at first made it impossible for me to put aside the venomous anger bubbling up inside of me and finish the article.

Lets read through the paragraph together:
“In November 2010, South Africans were shocked when a *video showing two teenage boys allegedly raping a young girl* made headlines. The clip, which had been taped at Jules High School in Johannesburg and distributed online, confirmed many parents’ worst nightmare; very young kids are having sex on school premises, and, moreover, they’re being reckless, unsafe, and ignorant.’

You see the part in bold? Does it seem odd to you? Read it again, and then read the rest of the excerpt.

The writer of this column starts off by mentioning two very serious crimes. Firstly, the production and distribution of illegal pornographic material featuring a real under-aged victim, and secondly, the “alleged” raping of a young girl. And then proceeds to write about “kids having sex in school”. The rest of the article is hundreds of words about under-aged sex and next to zero words about rape.

What?

Its 2013, people. Do I really have to sit here and explain that there is a difference between sex and rape? The first sentence of that article does not belong in that article. But perhaps it does. Perhaps it’s purpose is to point out, albeit unintentionally, one of the biggest set-backs many of us have on this continent – an inability to distinguish the difference between rape and consensual sex.

Perhaps I’m over-reaching here. Someone may even point out that I shouldn’t be getting so worked up over a report written in a “Women’s Glossy.” And that someone may very well be correct. But if me over-reaching in a Women’s Glossy is it takes for this discussion to happen then fine.

The True Love article did a good a job of pointing out that the sex-education in SA is lacking. This one will attempt to point out that in SA and in the rest of the patriarchal world rape-education is non-existent.

It is evident that the ‘many parents’ mentioned in the article and I heard of the ‘shocking’ video tape and thought two different thoughts. They, according to Cochrane, were saddened by the fact that this video “confirmed” that children were having (consensual) sex at a young age. I, on the other hand saw a very realistic and not surprising ramification of leaving the venom of the patriarchal society we inhabit unabated.

That video is precisely what happens when little boys learn about sex outside of school in a patriarchal society that never teaches the seriousness of the issue of consent except to whisper like a footnote in biology “no means no” at irregular intervals. Whatever is being done in our societies is very clearly, not enough. If the laws in Swaziland and the incident in Indiawhere a young woman was gang-raped on a train is anything to go by, the world is very far from understanding that a world filled with boys that aren’t taught the concept of consent grow up to be men that don’t know that difference between sex and rape.

Let’s make 2013 the year we begin to act on this.

Instead of filling teenage girl’s books and magazines with ‘How Not To Get Raped’ articles lets stick some ‘This is what rape is – Don’t do it’ articles in ALL of the magazines young boys are reading these days. Let’s try that.

Because I cannot mention how many times a woman has confessed to me that she was raped and then immediately explain that her rapist speaks to her as if he did nothing wrong. That is a real problem. There are rapists out there walking around, completely unaware that they are rapists.

There are people reading this article right now totally unaware that there is someone in their recent past thinking of them as ‘the one that raped me’. That’s how “blurry” the lines are, even these days.

The little boys in that video grew up in a world where, because they hadn’t heard enough about sexual consent, they believed that that young girl owed them her body. And when ‘slip-ups’ like the one in Cochrane’s go by unnoticed it is only evidence that we are very ok with this.

A world in which there is no difference between rape and sex.

Perhaps, I am over-reaching. Perhaps I should have had more to eat today than a handful of fruit.

Perhaps it was a mere slip on Cochrane’s part that she (and the associate editor, and the editor-at-large and the proof-reader) didn’t see this mistake. Perhaps it was a Freudian slip. Perhaps it wasn’t a mistake.

Perhaps, I’m the crazy one for thinking it’s not ok to start an article about sex-education with an example of rape and then not mention rape-education.

Either way, rape is not sex.

For more evidence that in the arena of magazines, my reading is very limited, here is an angry open letter to another True Love columnist I wrote in my previous blog.

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5 thoughts on “What? | The blurry line between sex and rape in True Love Magazine

  1. you are so right…..boys need to understand the “no” word. They also need to be taught from an early age that sex can be a wonderful experience for two consenting adults and that it should be a mutual expression of love …..not a quick thrill or a means of intimidating or proving anything …..

  2. Agreed. I shudder to think if those boys are remorseful because they got caught, or as a result of what they did. Last year Cosmo had an article titled “How to be a penis genius”. I almost hurled, but seeing as “glossy magazines” are exempt for writing real articles, I suppose we all let that one slide. I had a roommate who has been raped 3 times, at one point by her own brother under the same roof. She didn’t get him arrested and the parents didn’t do a thing either. So if the older (wiser) generation doesn’t protect their own kids, and teach those who do wrong that there are consequences for their actions, will us ranting about it ever make a difference?

  3. Interesting piece. Firstly, let me point out that kids can’t have ‘consensual sex’, the first paragraph seems to suggest that the kids were younger than 16 years, which by the way is the age of consent in my native South Africa. Not to get overly technical here, but to me the issue is a slam dunk statutory sex charge, and not a matter of whether the sex was consensual or not. In any case, that’s up to the courts to decide. The reason I’m raising this up is for you -journalists, reporters, editors, columnists etc- to note it on future articles.

    Secondly, I think institutions of learning are doing their best to teach on the subjects of sex, the amount of sex education going on at schools sometimes leaves parents feeling like schools teach their kids more about sex than they should. You can ask my eight year old nephew if you don’t believe me. I think the problem here is how society through social media addresses these issues, kids are very impressionable, I’ve always stressed this but with the risk of sounding naïve, maybe we should curb the amount of sex portrayed on the media.

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