by Riante Naidoo
It seems to me that for most young couples today, sex has become an integral part of relationships.
Although I believe it is entirely up to each individual as to when they start having sex, the general trend has certainly picked up in recent years, leaving our generation with the attitude that it is a relationship norm or requirement.
I beg to differ. I only discovered the general view of most students on campus when a friend assumed I had been sleeping with my boyfriend of four years. Dumbfounded by her assumption I sat and gave the notion serious thought. ‘Did they not see me as normal’ and ‘how can people just assume that’ were the questions that raced through my mind.
I wondered why girls complained endlessly about their ‘bae’ not being romantic or thoughtful enough, when they were all too excited to respond to his ‘booty call’.
On the flip side however, I find it is not only guys who centre their relationships around sex, but girls too.
Although, in some instances, it may be peer pressure or the need to feel desired that may push one to have sex, I feel it is directed more at a lack of self-respect or ignorance.
Sex is certainly not a need. As educated people, we have the ability to empower ourselves by whatever means necessary.
No matter your gender, whether your partner threatens to leave or pulls the ‘do it to show me you love me’ line, leave. Leave with your dignity still intact and your morale a little stronger.
After all, if you are the kind of lady who expects your husband to be pure enough for you, you do not want to be walking into that relationship with a hideous reputation or trail of ‘baby daddies’.
For those who are mature enough to maintain relationships which exclude the ‘sexual requirement’, there are so many perks of being young and in love. It is the time to enjoy the sillier side of life with your partner.
When I was 18, holding his hand, hanging out with friends together, sneaking into his lectures and waking up to his texts every morning was what made it exciting.
Our generation needs to re-discover what it is like to be embarrassed over being called out in his lecture and being teased by friends instead of falling pregnant after a drunken hook-up.
The idea of sex bogs me down with seriousness. Call me old-fashioned, but yes, it does carry a sacred value and level of intimacy I can wait for. Let it be something special you experience, one day with the most important one.
Despite all the aspiring Christian Grey’s or Anastasia Steele’s out there, who believe they are in their sexual prime, I assure you, there will be enough time for handcuffs and rose petals in between the sheets.
It is completely normal for young couples to be in relationships without sex. It is possible to be together where the other is not ‘getting it someplace else’ just because the two of you are not sleeping together.
This is the time to make memories. To go on road trips with friends, join campus societies and hike a mountain or invent something crazy. After all, Facebook was invented by a group of university students.
Make the real moments matter and just imagine what a legend you will be at graduation!
Wits Vuvuzela spoke to Wits students about comitted relationships and it appears, most are really against it.
Katlego* perches on a wall outside the Cullen Library, an old Nokia in her hand. She shields the screen against the sun, so that the message is visible.
“Hope you will turn me into your personal slave,” one message reads. “Make me serve you and then reward me!”
“Whatever we might agree would be totally secret and safe with no strings attached,” says another. These messages are from Katlego’s lecturer.
“I remember the first time he sent me an SMS. He said something very explicit,” Katlego says.
She called the number back twice, not knowing who it was. There was no answer. “That’s when he sent an SMS, he was like, ‘Don’t call me, let’s just chat via SMS.’”
Katlego had never given him her number, and was initially surprised that he had managed to get hold of it. “But then I realised that he’s a lecturer. He can just look up my name and get my number.”
Katlego says she never considered reporting him. “It was so overwhelming; I thought, ‘OK, I’m just going to brush it off.’ I was a first year student, I didn’t want to jeopardise anything, didn’t want to get into trouble for getting a lecturer into trouble.
“I brushed him off. I told him look, you need to stop. He just said, ‘You can’t handle me, you can’t handle my attention’. But I told him that I was losing all respect for him as my lecturer. And I stopped replying to his SMSes.
“A man his age, it was really disturbing. Have you seen him on campus? He walks with his head down. He knows, he knows he’s surrounded by victims.”
Samantha* had a similar experience in her first year, when the same lecturer invited her to be his friend on Facebook. “He invited a couple of us black females on Facebook, including myself, lots of my friends. He sent one of my friends something really, really, really nasty. There are so many girls that I know. Actually more than six.
“If you ask any black girl who did [the subject] at some stage, they’ll tell you. He approaches everyone,” says Samantha.
Wanting to expose the lecturer, Samantha spoke to her friends, asking them to come forward. But they refused. “My other friend sat me down and said, ‘You don’t want to be that girl. You don’t want to be that girl that exposes the lecturer. You don’t want that reputation.’”
Samantha was unwilling to let Wits Vuvuzela see the messages the lecturer had sent her on Facebook, although she had kept them.
“He’d remember. He’d probably check all the girls he inboxed, and then he’d know. I want to do honours [in the department], so I’m not going to do that.”
However, Samantha is quick to praise the professor. “He’s such a good lecturer, honestly. He’s making changes in the department, good changes.”
Despite this, she admits that his advances on the young women that he lectures are “bad”.
“For me, it’s no big deal because nothing happened, I didn’t entertain it. But what if I was failing, what if I was poor? What does it mean for those girls?”
Yet another student, Ayanda*, has also been approached by the Wits lecturer. In her case, it was via Yahoo Chat. Ayanda claims that she wasn’t the only student approached by the lecturer, and she has friends who had a similar experience.
“He asks how you are and if you are interested in him. If not, he doesn’t mind. He doesn’t want a relationship, just sex. He has a relationship already.
“At first it was just creepy then it became sad. I honestly thought it was a joke, but jokes don’t continue for months.”
In response to Wits Vuvuzela, the lecturer in question has denied the allegations and said: “There are appropriate channels within the university for dealing with cases of sexual discrimination and harassment”.
A complaint can be laid with one of the counsellors at the Careers Development Unit (CCDU), after which “the process will be driven/guided by the needs and wishes of the complainant”, according to the unit’s sexual harassment policy.
The CCDU’s definition of sexual harassment is “any form of unwanted sexual advance, [which] can include physical, verbal or non-verbal behaviour”.
The student laying the complaint can choose not to pursue any process involving the alleged harasser, to get counselling, follow a process of mediation, or lay a formal internal complaint, resulting in a formal grievance and/or disciplinary process.
Can lecturers date their students?
Contrary to popular belief, relationships between lecturers and students are not explicitly forbidden.
The Wits human resources department has compiled a set of “guidelines” for lecturer-student relationships, which states:
“[F]or instance in the development of a romantic relationship, a staff member should consider carefully the possible consequences for him/herself and the student. Consensual romantic relationships with student members, while not expressly prohibited, can prove problematic.”
Wits Vuvuzela is investigating cases of sexual harassment that students have brought to our attention. If you have any information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wits Vuvuzela will protect the identity of all its sources.
*Names have been changed.
Published in Wits Vuvuzela 25th edition, September 21 2012.