Growing up in a traditional & religious black home, I never got “the talk” in fact sex was off limits at home. Like most kids in the township we had to rely on unqualified township scientists to tell us false narratives of sex. I remember when puberty hit and I had zits on my face, I was told that in order to rid myself of these zits I had to have sex. Masturbation was off the table because one would be ridiculed for engaging in it. For black women its even taboo or slutty for them to even think of doing it.
I wasn’t an attractive teen so sex was farfetched for me, so I would masturbate ashamedly thinking I am abnormal because I had witnessed some of my friends be ridiculed for even admitting to having a sex dream.
When I produced the work I had come to the conclusion that Sex education in our society in general isn’t potent enough and doesn’t take into consideration that people love sex and have various ways in which they engage it, not just the pseudo heterosexual way they teach us in schools and public clinics, where we are subliminally taught that sex is for the pleasure of men and reproduction. You’d swear the department of health get their research from rural black men who don’t value vaginas and women’s pleasure.
Toka Hlongwane is a director and television producer who currently creates content for SABC’s education and children’s genres. After having a stint as photojournalist, he developed a deeper appreciation for human narratives that are muted or unnoticed in society: which saw him immerse himself in taking pictures in-order to bring these portraits to life.
When he isn’t on set Toka is street and documentary photographer and has exhibited his work at Millepiani Gallery in Rome in 2017 & in 2018.