The bitter sweet reality: ‘sugar daddy’ relationships and the construction of traditional African masculinities in the context of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
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The aim of this study is to explore ‘sugar daddy’ relationships and the construction of traditional amaZulu masculinities in KwaZulu-Natal. The study has four key research objectives. First, the study seeks to ascertain the main reasons why older men pursue transactional sex relationships with younger women. Secondly, the study seeks to probe the main gratification men derive from sexual relations with a younger woman. Third, the study seeks to probe the perceived men’s sense of control over younger women. Lastly, the study seeks to problematise African masculinity and perceived control and dominance over younger women. The study employs a qualitative research methodology with an exploratory research design to better understand the social phenomenon under study. Consistent with a qualitative methodology, the study employed in-depth face to face interviews as the primary data collection instrument and made use of purposive sampling in selecting respondents and key informants. The study made use of Constructionism and Social Identity Theory in its theoretical framework. Both theories assist in assembling an understanding of group membership and the construction of traditional amaZulu masculinities in the context of the ‘sugar daddy’ phenomenon. The study looked at how middle-aged amaZulu men define their masculinity through transactional sex with younger women. It sampled 22 amaZulu men and their accounts of their ‘sugar daddy’ relationships. These accounts offer insightful interpretations regarding the construction of traditional amaZulu masculinities in KwaZulu-Natal. While trying to ‘define’ masculine identities, the study also acknowledges the fluidity and complexity of the topic. The study makes the assertion that the motivations for men (and the women) in cross-generational sexual relationships are varied and complex. Findings show that for most men however, the key drivers are culturally based (or culturally reduced understandings) and are linked to self-esteem and social standing.