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Women, Sexuality and the Political Power of Pleasure

Women, Sexuality and the Political Power of Pleasure (Paperback)

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Synopsis

This pioneering collection explores the ways in which positive, pleasure-focused approaches to sexuality can empower women.



Gender and development has tended to engage with sexuality only in relation to violence and ill-health. Although this has been hugely important in challenging violence against women, over-emphasizing these negative aspects has dovetailed with conservative ideologies that associate women's sexualities with danger and fear. On the other hand, the media, the pharmaceutical industry, and pornography more broadly celebrate the pleasures of sex in ways that can be just as oppressive, often implying that only certain types of people - young, heterosexual, able-bodied, HIV-negative - are eligible for sexual pleasure.



Women, Sexuality and the Political Power of Pleasure brings together challenges to these strictures and exclusions from both the South and North of the globe, with examples of activism, advocacy and programming which use pleasure as an entry point. It shows how positive approaches to pleasure and sexuality can enhance equality and empowerment for all.

Andrea Cornwall is professor in anthropology and development at the University of Sussex, where she is an affiliate of the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence and director of the Pathways of Women's Empowerment programme. As a teenager, she harboured a secret desire to be an agony aunt when she grew up, inspired by clandestine readings of her mother's Cosmopolitan, but became an anthropologist instead, focusing much of her research on gender, sexuality, sex and relationships. Joining the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) as a fellow in 1998, she supported the emergence of work on sexuality and helped establish the Sexuality and Development Programme. She has published widely on gender and sexuality in development and is executive producer of Save us from Saviours, a short film on Indian sex workers' challenge of the rescue industry. Kate Hawkins is director of Pamoja Communications and a visiting fellow at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). She has worked as a policy analyst and advocate on sexual and reproductive health and rights. With Susie Jolly, Andrea Cornwall and others, Kate has contributed to the Sexuality and Development Programme at IDS with a particular focus on how research influences policy and practice and the improvement of communication and knowledge exchange. Kate is on the Steering Committee of The Pleasure Project, an initiative which aims to make sex safer by addressing one of the major reasons people have sex: the pursuit of pleasure. Susie Jolly is a hybrid activist/researcher/communicator/trainer and is currently also a donor. From her different positions she consistently seeks to challenge the `straitjacket' of gender and sexuality norms that disempower so many people. She currently leads the Ford Foundation sexuality and reproductive health and rights grant-making programme in China. Previously, she founded and led the Sexuality and Development Programme at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). She has had extensive engagement with gender and development issues internationally, with six years' experience at the BRIDGE gender information unit, IDS, as well as a lifetime of feminist activism.

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