|dc.description.abstract||The development industry has emphasised the dangers of sex and sexuality – in
relation to population control, disease and violence. This negative approach to sex
has been filtered through a view of gender which stereotypes men as predators,
women as victims, and fails to recognise the existence of transgender people.
In reality, pleasure and danger are often entwined – not least because for many,
seeking pleasure entails breaking social rules. However, the oppressive frameworks
which forbid pursuit of pleasure are not the only dangers associated with sexuality.
There are other fears to do with sex such as anxieties about loss of control,
merging with another, intense sensation, triggering emotions, invoking previous
experiences, about not being satisfied, fear of losing the object of love or lust, fear
of catching a sexually transmitted or other infection. This ambiguity is part of many
consensual sexual experiences.
How should development actors negotiate this ambiguous mix of pleasures and
dangers in sexuality? This question is important to many aspects of human
development – such as dealing with HIV/AIDS, tackling sexual violence, and
supporting more fulfilling relationships.
Part of the answer is to move to more positive framings of sexuality which promote
the possibilities of pleasure as well as tackling the dangers at the same time. The
promotion of sexual pleasure can contribute to empowerment, particularly but not
only for women, sexual minorities, and people living with HIV/AIDS, who may have
been subject to social expectations that sexual pleasure is not for them. The
pleasures of safer sex can also be promoted to reduce HIV/AIDS transmission and
improve health. These are important ends. However, it would be sad to reduce
sexual pleasure to a means of reaching development goals. Sexual pleasure can be
wonderful in itself, and indeed it can be argued that people have a right to seek such
pleasures, and that an enabling environment should be created for them to do so.
Keywords: sex, sexuality, sexual rights, pleasure, gender, transgender, development,
globalisation, HIV/AIDS, empowerment||en_GB