Marilyn Monroe sang Diamond's Are A Girl's Best Friend in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

The majority of South African men who give money or gifts to their partners expect sex in return and consider this a “transaction”, according to recent research.

The paper was compiled by a team of researchers led by Rachel Jewkes, and was published this month by BioMed Central. They found that men generally expect sex in return for being the provider in a relationship.

“Transactional sex” is the term the researchers used to describe men who had sex they felt was motivated by the expectation of material gain from their partner.

Cosmetics or money for beauty products was the most common “payment” made by men for their “main” partner, followed by food, clothes, cellphones or transportation. For once-off partners, the most common payment was providing her with somewhere to stay.

The findings of the survey also indicated that while the prevalence of transactional sex is high across all income groups, men on a lower income spent a higher proportion of their salaries on their partners.

“By and large the men indicated that the realm of sexual relationships is a cash economy,” said the researchers. However, the paper also found that the men clearly distinguished between transactional sex and prostitution, even when providing cash for once-off transactional sex.

A randomly selected group of 1 645 sexually active men in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal answered the questionnaire about their perceptions of their relationship and about paying for sex. While just over 18 percent of the men said they had paid for sex with a prostitute, two-thirds said they had had transactional sex with a partner at least once.

Black African men over the age of 25 and who earn between R1 000 and R2 000 a month were the ones most likely to engage in transactional sex. - The Star