by Niza Jay (he/him) | Edited by Deshnee Subramany (she/her)
Image by Ramez E. Nassif
Minimalism has become a keen topic of interest recently, likely in response to the pervasive displays of excess that we are exposed to in society. The rise of fast fashion and content overload on streaming services are but two examples of this.
Minimalism as it pertains to sex is what I am most interested in. I am at a point in my life where I only want to have fulfilling sexual experiences and have been exploring sexual minimalism as a means to that end.
Artist Letho Msimang created the concept of a-minimal - African minimalism - and opines that minimalism is the promotion of the bare essentials and the removal of anything that distracts from it. "If minimalism has to do with our basic needs, it becomes crucial to define those needs, as they are not always the same for us all."
It’s important to stress that minimalism is not about doing less of something, but rather doing more of the things that bring you fulfilment. Sexual minimalism encourages the pursuit of satisfying sexual experiences rather than pursuing sexual encounters purely for the sake of reaching orgasm (if you are lucky enough to come, that is).
We all have different sexual needs. But many of us struggle to be transparent about them, sometimes even with ourselves. We are also in a unique time where conversations about and depictions of sex in the public sphere are higher than we have seen before. Could sexual minimalism be a potential balancing element in what I think is an age of excessive sexuality? Could it also be a clarifier as we navigate our complex sex lives?
To some, the concept of sexual minimalism may seem like a puritanical notion concerned with limiting sexual encounters and curbing sexual appetites. Conversely, it could be understood as a wholesome ideal of an uncomplicated sex life.
Sexual satisfaction involves a lot more than foreplay and penetration - I myself am a kinky girl. My last sexual encounter was almost two years ago. I am a single feminine gay man and pursuing sex is no walk in the park - although sometimes walking through a park is the only way for me to get any action. Staying away from sex has been a conscious way to eliminate stress. My aversion to pressure, along with my kinks and other requirements, creates a personal definition of sexual minimalism. Perhaps it’s a relaxing arrangement with one partner who fulfils all of my sexual needs. Maybe I need to engage with different partners who all offer me a variety of things. Whatever it is, my sexual minimalism should consist of liaisons that don’t merely add to my body count, but those that build me up as a sexual being.
Liesl Saymaan says in an article for The South African, “a minimalist is purely someone who values themselves more than earthly or material possessions... one who finds freedom in purpose and value in their own identity and not in ownership or accumulation”. It might be satisfying to get the maximum number of pleasurable sexual moments, but it could be even more satisfying if such a meeting taught you more about your body and desires, as well as your unrealised needs, like feeling secure, appreciated, and protected.
It is worthwhile to find and define the true value of our sexual experiences on our own terms. Even better put by Snymaan, it is more than “getting rid of the unnecessary” but rather saying no to certain things so you can “say yes to living”.
If we are going to live through a time where attitudes and boundaries around sex are becoming more relaxed, we can strive to have as many fulfilling sexual experiences as possible. I have no desire to tell people how to navigate their sexuality. But I do believe that grappling with the concept of sexual minimalism could be of value.
Those who recognise that sex is more than simply a physical act will also see value in this. Sex is a vital part of our lives. It's not enough to represent and discuss it more openly without moving differently too. To have the best experience possible, we must navigate it with thought and intentionality.
Niza Jay (he/him) is a multi-disciplinary entertainer and SAFTA nominated actor who obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2017.
He has had starring roles in the South African films, Inxeba (2017), STAM (2020) and You're my favorite place (2022). Niza is also part of the star-studded ensemble cast in the South African and European Co-Production, “Blood Psalms”- an 11 part mythological fantasy series on Showmax and Canal+.
He also works as a filmmaker, musician and entrepreneur. He founded his production company Unizon Entertainment in 2018. The company produced the play "While we Hate" which ran at The Joburg Theater and PopART Maboneng in 2019 .Unizon Ent is currently producing Niza's debut musical project with assistance from Tshepang 'RMBO' Ramoba of alt rock band The BLK JKS.
Niza's work extends to human rights advocacy, and he has partnered with organizations such as The Other Foundation, The Meantime Men Los Angeles and Accountability International.