Debating Sex Talk in South Africa

Date: January 1, 1970
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Sexual rights have been very prominent in South African public debate and policy making. Examples include public action against sexual violence; media coverage of same-sex relationships; television talk shows on sexuality; and wide-scale information dissemination in relation to HIV/AIDS. This paper argues that whilst this current climate of sex talk suggests that people have widespread freedoms and choices, the nature of the prominent sex talk in South Africa seems to be setting limits on what kinds of freedoms are possible, and on who articulates these freedoms. The paper reflects on this by exploring two topics of public sex talk in South Africa: domestic violence and same-sex relationships. It questions the effectiveness of purely legislative approaches to these issues and argues that certain aspects of popular culture, visual representation and music have been functioning as alternative spaces for talking about bodily and sexual freedoms. These innovative ways of talking about sexual rights and freedoms are important because they allow the emotional and psychological dimensions of issues like domestic violence to be aired in ways that legalistic or political language do not.

Year of Publication: 2005

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