07 Oct School Me, Don’t Fool Me | Mmabatho Montsho Speaks about Her Candid Web Series ‘Women on Sex’
Released today, episode five of Women on Sex takes an unfettered look at what’s lacking when it comes to sex education. Conceptualised by director and actress Mmabatho Montsho, this web series aims to encourage open dialogue around sexuality. It’s a far cry from your commercially endorsed or classroom Sex Ed diatribes that border on the clinical, didactic and dull. Instead, we come into contact with women from all walks of life expressing their concerns and beliefs when it comes to current sexuality.
What led you to embark on this online venture?
I have a deep love for African women and have always felt a compelling need to create content that disrupts the existing patronizing narratives that have been forced onto us. It is important to me as a black female filmmaker to create platforms that reflect African women as the dynamic, thinking and complex beings we are.
Tell us a bit about the key players involved in the production. How did you go about choosing which women would take part and how open were they in talking about sex?
I chose a diverse group of women with different interests, beliefs and social standing. The point was to explore how we face the same sexual issues because of our common denominator – our sex. I also wanted to explore how different women respond to these issues. The women were quite open and uninhibited, contrary to what we’ve been socialized to expect from black women.
Sexuality is a broad topic. What were some of the determining factors in choosing which topics the ten part series would cover? How did you go about deciding this?
I chose topics that were connected in some way to the idea of liberation. Topics that would look at how and why we are repressed/oppressed and how we can break those chains.
Why is it important for women to talk about sex in this manner on a public platform?
It is one of the best tools used to oppress women emotionally, psychologically and politically and the conversation around it should happen loudly. That is how we agitate, educate and empower each other. I believe artists of any sort should always make it their business to show society to itself. And to document life in some way.
What are you hoping might arise out of the conversations started in this series?
Something that has already been ignited by platforms such as social media. The opportunity for black women to claim their voice. When we can hear each other we can teach each other. And something will start to happen for sure, no? Mine is to contribute the best way I know how and that is with my camera.
Often, discourse around sexuality situates men and women at odds with one another. What have the responses from men been like and how do we include rather than isolate them from dialogues about sexuality?
Patriarchy situates men and women at odds and the discourse simply exposes that reality. It’s absolutely not true that men are isolated from dialogues about sexuality. If anything they have always set the tone, the world over. I don’t know if you’ve seen male politicians leading the debate on abortion and same sex marriage in the USA lately. It is women that have been marginalized and that is why I chose to center women in this project. We cannot afford to be apologetic about that.
What has surprised you so far?
The support from most of the people that have watched the series. Beyond watching and sharing links, complete strangers have pretty much held my hand throughout the process by sending comments and messages of support to me on a personal level.
Are there any particular triumphs and challenges that have stood out for you during the process?
The triumph has been getting the thing done! The challenges have been more psychological, you know, you constantly ask yourself if you are making a decent contribution.
What informed your decision to publish this series online, rather than say on TV or Radio?
The future is online.
Where to from here?
Infinity and beyond.