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South Africa is an extremely complex society. It was forged through the ideological, normative and structural violence of colonialism and apartheid. As a result, poverty, racial and gender inequality mark the sexual landscape. There exist tensions between the sexual moralities forged during the colonial and apartheid era and the move to have more tolerant, open and sexually diverse cultures and experiences under democracy.
Beyond the national political domain, sexual ideological violence holds a powerful place in the education system that seeks to shore up a view of the world that is underpinned by a Judaeo-Christian view of sex, gender and sexuality. While the education system and some educators may recognise the need for more open forms of sex and sexuality education, in the main the focus of most teaching is strongly gendered, heteronormative and framed in so-called traditional values. For many years, the ways in which young people are educated or taught about sex, sexuality and sexual expression have been of concern to researchers and practitioners asking how it can be possible to effect real change in how young people, and how the experiences of young people wishing to experience and express their sexualities, can be included in discussions and debates about them.
This themed issue of Sex Education journal on Sex, Sexuality and Education in South South africa full sex seeks to answer some of the big questions concerning how sex, sexualities and education continue to be constructed in South Africa, given the growing need to address gender and sexual diversity and justice within the education system Francis ; Msibi ; Shefer and Macleod ; Ngidi and Moletsane In South Africa today, gender and sexual violence, coercive sexual practices, homophobia, unwanted pregnancy and HIV remain ificant threats to the health of young people Willan et al.
Good quality sexuality education can be a vital resource to provide young people with knowledge and information to address sexual and reproductive health and to prevent adverse social, health and educational outcomes Aggleton, Dennison, and Warwick Scholars contend that when delivered within a human rights, gender and sexual justice framework, sexuality education has the potential to address and challenge gender equality, oppressive heteronormativity and relationship South africa full sex Boonstra ; Jewkes Notwithstanding the emphasis placed on human rights and gender justice in South Africa, existing research suggests that sexuality education offered through Life Orientation LO classes all too often fails to meet the needs of young people Francis ; Shefer and Macleod In South Africa today, sexuality education remains constrained, with the emphasis currently being placed on disease, sexual danger, rigid categorisations of gender — all preventing the understanding and elaboration of gender and sexual identities Shefer and Macleod Whilst it is important to focus on the very real political, social, health and economic challenges that exist in the country, two major problems concerning sex and sexuality education have emerged.
The first relates to the exclusive framing of sex in the domain of innocence, suffering and risk, with girls — especially in working class contexts — being largely portrayed as the victims of male sexuality. The second relates to the conceptualisation of sexuality education as a domain of danger and power with little consideration being given to sexualities that encompass desire, pleasure, queer experiences, curiosity and excitement. Thus, they run the risk of speaking to no-one: not to the adults who have failed to escape these constraints, nor to the young people whose bodies and experiences tell them differently.
Our primary aim therefore in this special issue is to open up sexuality education to critical discussion and debate within a variety of institutions, considering the widespread dearth of theoretical and practical knowledge in South Africa, so as to meet the needs of the people that matter.
The idea of the special issue arose through our t collaborations and conversations over the years researching gender, HIV, sexuality, young people, health and the role of education as a vehicle for intervention Aggleton, Yankah, and Crewe ; Bhana We are not the first to embark on such a project Gacoin ; Shefer and Macleod ; Francis ; Msibi ; Bhana but our intention is to build an expansive, transformative and critically driven sexuality education that could engage people in liberating and innovative ways.
A chief element in sexuality education is the need to support and protect young people, empower them with skills and values to ensure sexual safety, fulfilling relationships, enjoyment and well-being UNESCO Through a call for papers for this special issue of Sex Educationwe sought to stimulate more discussion about the political project of sexuality education, to understand the entanglement between power and identities and to make us more mindful of the need for a critical and challenging of how young people and others engage in the construction of their sexual and social identities.
Building on all that has been researched in the past, we reiterate the need for ongoing critical and liberating interventions and reflection in the present. Explicit in these nine articles is an interpretation of sexuality that provides an important barometer of broader social, political and cultural meanings and conditions underpinned by history Reddy This position holds that South africa full sex is not a biological state of being but flexible and capable of shifting and changing in and across multiple different contexts.
Importantly, therefore, sexuality education is not a micro-sociological educational experience, present only in the educational setting, but is conducted and experienced in and through many differing political, social and cultural milieux. There is a history to this. In this section therefore, we provide a brief description of the context through in to situate the study of sexuality education in South Africa.
As all the papers show, sexuality education in South Africa provides a powerful lens for understanding the effects of colonial and apartheid creations of race, class and oppressed groups. Through colonisation and apartheid, underpinned by Christianity, heterosexuality and gender inequalities and identities were normalised.
Conservative Christian principles were incorporated into local customs reproducing gender as binary and sexuality as shameful, both of which were to be controlled within heteronormative boundaries whilst upholding the powerful status of men. Black men were constructed as being hypersexual and to be feared.
African women were portrayed as victims and simultaneously shamed for irresponsible child-bearing. Gender, culture, race and class combined to define sexuality in powerful and deeply oppressive ways. In South Africa, cultural norms interacted with and coalesced meanings around sexuality, virginity and purity with long-lasting consequences. Under apartheid, for example sodomy and cross-racial sexual relations were criminalised.
Sexuality operated through racial separation and patriarchy whilst endorsing heterosexual norms. The legacy of these meanings around sexuality is often translated into research which sees African men as bad and violent, girls as suffering from sexuality and homosexuality as un-African. These discourses still hold sway today but many of the papers in South africa full sex issue alert us to the potential of a decolonising power-based analysis of resistance and reproduction Epprecht Our historical understandings of sexuality produced through gendered and racialised discourses, intertwine with local cultural norms which allows them to mutate, and change.
In South Africa, we are developing a more nuanced understanding of the contours of sexual metamorphoses and the effects of structural forces on the meanings and boundaries of gender, sexuality race and class Hunter ; Reid and Walker The special issue seeks further to expand understanding of how these sexual contours are shaped through education, and in the wider society.
Key themes that weave throughout these articles are the curtailment of feminine desire, the regulation of gender and sexuality and heteronormative prescription. Sex is dangerous and damaging. Men are predators. Women are victims. Only heterosexuality is acceptable. Such themes remain powerful in shaping how sex and sexuality education manifest themselves as we shall see in the articles that comprise this issue.
We begin with a paper by Nicolette Carboni and Deevia Bhana. Beyond the familiar focus on disease and health, the girls in this study are sexual architects — they embrace a desire for the erotic and sexual pleasure. Black African female sexuality in particular is extricated from the trope of sexuality, violence and docility. Online SEM provides tantalising opportunities to increase information about pleasurable forms of sexuality Mulholland For young women in this study, the expression of female desire is negotiated within the context of sexual shame with masturbation regarded South africa full sex a male prerogative Allen ; Attwood Importantly the authors draw attention to the continued silence of female sexual pleasure in sexuality education.
This silence suggests that girls will continue to have doubts about their right to sexual pleasure preventing them from making informed decisions about sexual pleasure, and how to experience it. By failing to meet the needs of girls, the reproduction of gender binaries will continue to promote notions of female sexuality as respectable, innocent and passive and male sexuality as active and aggressive.
The authors call for a more expansive version of sexuality education that refuses a protectionist discourse and engages with new technologies, the erotic and forms of female sexual pleasure. Race, class, sexuality, age and gender interact with digital technology to create new kinds of femininity and new demands for sexuality education.
Through their use of new technology including the social media, young women start to challenge the silences surrounding their sexualities and experiences of pleasure. In the next paper, Thabo Msibi shifts attention to Black African male teachers in a township setting who engage in same-sex sexual relations.
Heterosexuality is interrogated by situating same-sex desiring men within the postcolonial moment at which the social, political and cultural embeddedness of sexuality arises. Without rehearsing discredited versions of homosexuality as un-African, the author shows how study participants seek to negotiate the terror of homophobic violence in South African schools Francis ; Bhana through the display of hyper-professional conduct — bolstering their power and rank.
This allows participants to both challenge heteronormativity and fight for social and sexual justice, without overtly threatening the foundations of heterosexuality, nor openly coming out. Taking up similar concerns around heteronormativity, Dennis Francis, focuses on the discursive strategies through which thirty-three teachers South africa full sex the Free State province of the country understand counter-normative sexualities or sexualities that are non-normative.
Francis reminds us of the contradictory role that teachers play — in teaching to uphold heteronormativity while potentially capable of addressing sexual diversity. Yet sexuality education, as Francis also reminds us is situated within a broader human rights policy framework in South Africa, which stipulates freedom, respect, dignity and gender equality. In relation to the empirical research, the author finds that heterosexuality remains resolutely intact as a naturalised feature of everyday schooling. Queer youth are ambiguously constructed as both innocent and hypersexual.
Moralistic and judgemental discourses, which draw upon discourses of blame, are mobilised by teachers. However, even amidst these dominating discourses which privilege heterosexuality, the potential to open up sexuality education to alternative readings based on counter-normative sexualities remains present.
Francis, thus confirms that notwithstanding the problems facing sexuality education, if it were done better and if teachers did not focus solely on the construction of non-normative sexualities within gender binaries, and, in a policy context that is properly inclusive of queer youth, sexuality education could work towards gender and sexual justice. Sisa Ngabaza and Tamara Shefer take on the dual and ambiguous role of sexuality education in addressing the real-life challenges that confront young people in South Africa through a review of the growing body of scholarship in the country.
Taking issue with the Life Orientation LO curriculum, the paper assesses the body of gender and sexuality education scholarship in South Africa and make three important points. Secondly, the authors reinforce that the school environment is heteronormative and exclusionary, repudiating sexual patterns and desires that lie outside the confines of normative gender and sexuality. Additionally, the authors suggest that schools proffer a version of family life based on the nuclear Western heteronormative standards, riding roughshod over the South africa full sex that exists which includes families headed by children, single mothers and families in which grandmothers are the key guardians of young people.
Finally, the authors contend that sexuality education reinforces adult authority. Questioning the dominant focus of sexuality education in school-based programmes and the didactic nature of such programmes, the authors extend the boundaries of where and who might teach sexuality education.
Greater effort, they argue is needed to address inequalities and this requires a multifaceted approach that addresses teachers skills, the importance of meeting the needs of young people, and the urgency of developing sexuality education that is based on gender and sexual justice. Rebecca Hodes and Lesley Gittings take sexuality education outside the confines of school-based offerings to what they refer to as a kasi township curriculum. Kasi curriculum, according to the authors refers to what is taught and learned in the South africa full sex class black African township in which they live. The authors worked with boys and men aged between 14 and 22 years of age using focus group discussions and participatory research methods.
Criticising sexuality education for its moralistic imperatives, the authors argue that learning sexuality in the school for instance makes it difficult for young men to address their investments in sexual pleasure and in multiple partners when such versions of masculinity and sexuality are rejected, scorned and stigmatised. There exist ambiguities and tensions between formal learning and what young men learn from male peers and older men concerning township sexuality. Instead of the focus on sexual danger learned about in formal school and health settings, for instance, young men learn about pleasure from their peers and older men.
Whilst dominant versions of masculinity abound, including the desire for multiple partners and their entitlement to sex, the young men in this study also draw attention to affective dimensions of sexuality concerning love, care and romance.South africa full sex
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