I’m writing right now at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in South Africa, and thinking ahead to a plenary I will be participating in tomorrow morning. The plenary is on the topic of ‘The Politics of Sexual Pleasure’. Its a plenary I argued for (My organisation the African Women’s Development Fund is a technical partner to the Open Forum, and I was in the enviable position of being able to make a case for the importance of this plenary) yet not one that I had thought of being on myself. In my mind I wanted distinguished African feminist sex researchers like Dr Sylvia Tamale to be on the plenary but Dr Tamale is not available, and somehow the technical organisers of the forum thought I would be ideal for the plenary.
So let me tell you the formal description of the session for tomorrow:
“Over the last decade, there have been various attempts by states to regulate women’s attire, while there have also been regular outbreaks of public violence against women who wear clothing deemed to be ‘too skimpy’. So what lies behind this urge to determine what women should wear – and also how they should act and who they should desire? This session seeks to understand the politics around women’s rights to sexual pleasure, the policy implications of this desire to control women’s bodies and, more importantly their sexualities, as well as how masculinities are often framed in ways that encourage violence and unhealthy sexual relationships.”
The sentences I have put in bold are the areas which I am particularly interested in, and the subjects on which I feel I can speak on with some degree of experience, at least in terms of my lived realities. At the same time I am kind of nervous about tomorrow’s plenary. I hear there are about 500 participants at the conference, and even though I am used to (and actually enjoy) public speaking I am a tad nervous about speaking on a subject in which I do not have a degree or the background of years of academic research. So I will speak about my personal experiences, my personal thoughts on the politics of sexual pleasure, the ways in which I feel our societies try to control our sexuality. Why our governments want to get all up in our bedrooms (and wherever else we choose to have sex) and legislate what we do, who we do, and for what purposes it is done.
But as usual I am keen to have the opinions of my African sisters who motivate me to keep blogging about sex and sexualities. What are your thoughts on the politics of sexual pleasure? Do you feel that society (or anything else) tries to control your body? Can you name who or what tries to control your sexuality? What kind of policies, laws and rules govern (or attempt t0 govern) your sexuality?
If its at all possible I would love to reflect some of the comments from readers in tomorrow’s session so please share…