SEXUALITY AGAINST SOCIETAL HIERARCHIES
Written by: Xolisani Khumalo
Sexuality remains a subject that people have limited understanding of and continuously debate. Some people argue that it is purely based on what you prefer, while others believe that you are born a certain way and therefore cannot change.
Queer as Folk (2000), an American television series that portrays gay men and women, expresses the fluidity of identities and subvert the assumptions of heteronormative understandings of the stability of sex, gender and sexuality. In that, giving new meaning to some myths that are propagated by society.
In a documentary called The People Versus The Rainbow Nation, writer and journalist, Phumlani Pikoli, talks about how society assumes people’s sexualities through gender and the value put in sex. Sex with women in particular.
“You got media coming at you saying women are there to give you sex, you need sex, you better get sex, sex with women don’t get it twisted,” said Pikoli.
In his statement, Pikoli shows his standpoint on how society plants seeds that can’t be “deprogrammed or unlearned”.
“You come into this world and you get told: Look at you, you’re going to be so handsome the girls are going to be after you. You grow up being told at every waking station in your life that you are owed sex. That women owe you sex,” added Pikoli.
Coming to the understanding that everyone has an idea and opinion on what sexuality is and what sex should be and with whom, essentialists believe that some people are born gay, basically saying that it is inherent and nothing can change their behaviour.
Xolani Shabalala, journalist and writer argues that no one chooses to be isolated and denigrated by society intentionally, and that being gay to him is not a trend, as society would suggest.
“I was born gay if I had a choice I would not be, not to say I don’t accept myself as I am, but sometimes society could really drive some people suicidal,” said Shabalala.
The Discursive Limits of Sex, a book by Judith Butler, demonstrates certain concepts, one of which is, ‘sex is an ideal which is forcibly materialised through time, and that such is not a fact or static condition of a body, but a process.’
“Sexual preferences change and for me it has. I can never label myself straight, lesbian or bi-sexual because sexuality is nothing fixed,” said Noluthando Miya a student at the Durban University of Technology.
“What happens when after years of calling yourself something, you wake up and you feel different or feel no attraction to absolutely no one?” questioned Miya.
Butler argues that performativity is involved in shaping our identities and subjectivity.
Luyanda Mzimela is a transgender from Durban, who currently holds the title of Miss Pride. She told JournalismIziko that she is not shaken by people’s sentiments on what she is and what she represents.
“Society will always have opinions about us but none of it phases me,” said Mzimela.
However, what Mzimela seems to be struggling with are accounts and things that require her Identity Book as she says she is always accused of fraud because of how her I.D picture looks like compared to how she looks now.
“I look like a woman, when my name is called people expect a Mr and I have to convince them that it’s me,” added Mzimela.
Laura Mulvey’s seminal text Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, emphasises that the look in cinema is controlled by the male and directed at the female.
Zinhle Khumalo, arts administrator at Arts For Humanity, expressed her views on how society and the media don’t advocate for matriarchal society and feminism.
“Most men don’t recognise women beyond their sexual orientation. I mean even gay men aren’t recognised as full humans by some men and so until that happens then the patriarchal system is here to stay,” said Khumalo.
*Picture: A gay couple holding hands as they enter a restuarant