The second assumption behind the sequential model in the book ‘A magnifying glass and a fine-toothed comb’ says, “Education is available at a lower cost than the cost of satisfying modern lifestyle needs, and that education is a safer choice which provides protection against risky transactional sex”.
I can’t say I understand what modern consumption truly is, if anything I find it to be relative. Just as success and the achievement of it means different things for different people, so should modern consumption. Perhaps if we understood and realised that we were never made to just produce as a measurement of our value, as in merely being productive, we would perceive modern consumption or the need to attain it differently.
Young women and girls engage in transactional sex but are the reasons behind it just as simple or straight forward as doing it for modern consumption? I’d say the greater motivation behind transactional sex is financial security; and for those that do understand the long term benefits of education in attaining financial security, although it does not always present fruitful outcomes, education is expensive. Even with a bursary, accommodation, textbooks, food, uniform and clothes are not always included with the tuition. The pursuit, need and want for education could just as well be the major drivers for engaging in transactional sex for some girls and young women whose parents cannot afford it. Another reality that tends to slip under the radar is that being able to afford an education is not the only concern around transactional sex. Girls and young women are often held in precarious situations where teachers or lecturers will coerce them to exchange sexual favours for higher marks, making the cost of an education even higher and education itself ultimately not as safe as it ought to be. Such incidents of sexual harassment are sometimes seen by those outside looking in as transactional sex, I mean save the coercion, some girls actually do date their teachers and lecturers and expect higher marks by virtue of being in such a relationship. Often times though, girls will engage in sexual transactional relationships, whether with older men or peers, to safeguard themselves against such sexual harassment because then it would at least be consensual.
I do not endorse transactional sex. And we may word or name it whichever way, it will still be that – you are being paid or rewarded for sex. I don’t even imagine that girls enjoy it, especially if they feel like they have no other choice. I suppose others are just better at shutting any realities around it out or perhaps they don’t mind it; mine is not to judge and I do not gain any moral high ground by being against it. My most recent blog before this series was on Intergenerational relationships and transactional sex was a fundamental base of the topic, although I didn’t take into account coercive encounters, I still worry for girls that engage in transactional sex purely for material gain when they have other options as this makes them extremely vulnerable to violence, unwanted pregnancy and HIV. I have never perceived morality to mean doing what is perceived as pure, I know morality to be doing what is responsibly right. With this in mind, you’re welcome to choose in my opinion. What I’m getting at is that if you do engage in transactional sex then be safe and take the necessary precautions that will have the least of consequences. This is easier said than done because the power lies with the provider in such cases.
Exposure to television programming and social media contributes marginally to a thirst for modern consumption so I suppose parents’ monitoring would be of great help, but even that is not practical – if they want to see it and know more about it, they will. A colossal number of parents don’t even know the extents to which transactional sex occurs or in reality don’t even have the time to afford such monitoring. It is thoroughly their responsibility though.
Interventions based on this assumption need to make considerations for how safe the schooling environment is for girls and young women, and how their backgrounds increase their vulnerabilities in terms of access to and the availability of basic necessities conducive to a healthy schooling career.