May 5, 2021


‘What we sell as sex, is just fear dressed up’


More by Mona Ombogo

We are Not Driven by Sex – We are Driven by Fear

We are Not Driven by Sex – We are Driven by Fear

House of Lungula - 2013 Kenyan Film

Last September a young woman alleges she was pushed out of a window of a 12th floor apartment. The case went to court in March. The story broke the internet; with reason. Because an act like that should always break the internet, in fact, it should break the country. Any act of violence against women, children, those less equipped to defend themselves, should.

Yet beneath those acts and the situations that cause them, is something more dangerous, something uglier, more nefarious; fear.

If you open any weekend magazine you are bound to see at least one woman, usually young, curvy and scantily dressed, selling something to someone. Sex sells is the slogan. I don’t think it’s sex that sells, I think it’s fear.

We dress these young girls up in small clothes and call it fashion. We convince them to pose in front of the camera and call it art. While all this is true, for fashion and art have many colours, there is an abdication of responsibility and duty that the media has perpetuated.

‘What we sell as sex, is just fear dressed up’

The media has exploited the fear of scarcity; that unless a young lady is willing to strip everything, she will not win the few men or resources available. It’s exploited the fear of domination; that unless a man can best his peers, he will become insignificant. So, the women strip down, and the men purchase; by whatever means necessary.

What we sell as sex, is just fear dressed up. The fear of not being good enough, not being relevant anymore, not being chosen, not being as beautiful, as powerful, as wealthy. The fear of our immortality; that point where we no longer matter.

I’m 43. Divorced. No children. Single. It took me three years after my marriage ended to enter into another relationship. That relationship lasted for seven years. I left it more broken than I had my marriage. Because you see, when you stack failure, or what appears to be failure, it morphs into a virus in your brain, and it starts to run everything.

Your choices become driven not by where you want to go, but where you’re escaping from: not what you desire, but what you are afraid of. The problem with that is fear is not something that can be quenched, every time you appease it, it asks for more.

So, the young girl who wins a man today isn’t satisfied that she won, she wants to make sure he won’t be the last man she wins. The man who buys her, isn’t satisfied that he has a beautiful girl on his arm, he wants to ensure he can do it again.

The dance continues, becoming more daring, more desperate, more lethal. And one day a young girl is thrown off a roof when her fears and his collide.

A lady walks into a motel room to meet a man she doesn’t know, why does she do it? A man buys a woman off a catalogue, what prompts him? What’s driving us? It can’t be sex. Sex is simple.

So maybe we spend too much time addressing the sex, the scanty clothes, the risky behaviour, without addressing what’s swirling just beneath the surface; the actions driven by fear.

I still face mine, from a shattered marriage and a dysfunctional relationship. And sometimes I wonder if I will ever break the spin, trust that I am enough, that no one needs to choose me if I choose myself first. Because choosing me, is being chosen.

But how do we put that on a magazine cover? How do we sell that? How do we tell that frightened young girl selling her body that she doesn’t need to, that she is enough. That there is enough to go around?

I don’t have the answers to that. And maybe that’s why the magazines keep winning.

A young girl is pushed out of a 12th-floor window, what should our talking points be?


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