Masculinity, a weak social construct.

I have always wanted to write an open letter to someone and thanks to a recent episode of Generations I finally have an addressee: any man that has ever been told ‘you are my third’.

During my recent soapie catch up, I almost never get to watch TV, I was fascinated by a scene wherein Tau has just found out that Karabo is cheating. It started me thinking about how most of you are driven crazy by whose genitals we ‘choose’ to welcome into ours. I don’t by any means condone cheating but Karabo’s answer of ‘only three times’ when Tau demands to know how many times she has slept with the other man started me on a journey that left me compelled to write you this letter.

Many years ago, I struck up a friendship with a woman; then just a young lady who upon a few months of friendship would make this statement to me, “I am never going to tell you how many men I have slept with. What you could do though is go ‘plus one’ every time I tell a new story.”  I immediately fell in love with her. I was captivated by her stories, and that despite her inability to say the number out loud, she appropriated no shame to herself and her sexual history. She remains one of the few women I know who truly own their sex and I owe a huge part of my sexual liberation to her.

You are probably wondering by now where I am going with this but I promise I am getting there, indulge me.

I have a lot of friends and over the years in our frequent chats around sex, it would emerge that most of us have been asked, at one time or another, by a boyfriend about the number of men we have slept with. The majority of us, yes the majority, have never gone beyond three. Which is why the ‘three’ in Karabo’s answer fascinated me. We find it hilarious that you buy it, happy to have had your ego massaged, quick to imagine that you would be the one we’d never forget. I’d bet my last 100MB of data that it was a woman who wrote the script on Generations that day.

I’d like to apologise on behalf of all of us who have lied about the number three, you’ll need both hands for the real number. And on behalf of society, for the weak construct that is masculinity. So weak it needs us the ‘weaker’ sex to help uphold it. For your sake, we as women are continually policed over the number of men we ‘choose’ to sleep with.  For your sake; we are policed not only by society in general but by other women, you the men we sleep with and by ourselves.  Yes for your sake we chastise ourselves, and ‘plus one’ our own experiences for your comfort.

We could carry on laughing at you behind your backs, but we realise that for the sake of the daughters and sons we have carried we need for the conversations and experiences to be different.  We dare to dream that the high number of sexual violence and ‘woman murdered by her partner’ incidents will go down if we have different conversations around the entitlement you do not have on our bodies. We realise the mistake we made each time we sweetly whispered ‘you are my fourth’. Yes there was a time when there had been only three before you, but that is a long time ago.



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