The tragic hero of North African slavery is female. In Morocco in the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, female slaves, mainly black women originally from West Africa, survived and sometimes thrived by forging emotional bonds with their masters. The striving for survival and the tragic drama of the female slaves' lives entailed emotional and sexual bonds via concubinage. For free Moroccan men concubinage was legalized and was secured by means of the connection to sexual desire. Concubines, that is, enslaved women, used, initially at least, this desire to secure a better position in a servile status within a society where gender was hierarchical: patrilineal and patriarchal. If it was legally and socially established for a male to be entitled to female slave sexuality, it was, as well, legally and socially conventional for the progeny of female slaves to inherit the father's legal status. I use the analysis of the concubinage system as a process to investigate the interplay of agency, emotions, sexuality, identity, race, and gender in Morocco.
Sexuality and Female Agency in Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century Morocco
Chouki El Hamel
Let us begin with the jokey new term ‘ferrosexuals’, meaning people who experience wanton fetishistic desire for trains—also more romantically labelled ‘buffer kissers’. When I was a lass too young to have heard of the Mile-high Club, ferrosexuals were called ‘train-spotters’ and their ardour was seen as innocuous, if pitiably nerdy. Does the new term mean that machines for travel are now seen as sexy, because we live in increasingly sexualised societies? Or does it mean that an underlying sexual charge in people’s interest in trains is finally being made explicit and taken seriously? We do not know. And the reason we do not know is that scholarly work—particularly historicised work—has yet to be done on sexualities’ many interfaces with transport and mobility.
Girl Bloggers SPARK a Movement and Create Enabling Conditions for Healthy Sexuality
Lyn Mikel Brown
SPARK, Sexualization Protest Action Resistance Knowledge, is an intergenerational movement that raises awareness about, and pushes back against, the sexualization of women and girls in the media to create room for whole girls. In this article, I document the ways in which the SPARKTeam, a diverse collection of young feminist bloggers, contributes to the creation of conditions that enable healthy sexuality by using their blogs to reclaim what it means to be sexy, and to invite creative forms of resistance to media sexualization.
Katie MacEntee, Lukas Labacher and John Murray
Young people use activism to advocate for their sexual health rights and to counter the social, political, and environmental threats to their health and well-being. By fully integrating themselves into the process of civic engagement—by incorporating pieces of themselves—youth can bring about successful change. Young community members can use civic engagement to speak out about their perceptions of how they are aff ected by health-related issues or how they are stigmatized by the community. In doing so, they are able to counter the ways in which policymakers, often distanced from the ramifi cations of inadequate social policy, portray the issues (Shucksmith and Hendry 1998). An interactive photo project that took place at the 2010 International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria, shows how civic engagement or what we think of as speaking out can move beyond rallies and online video and audio messages directed at policymakers and into the realm of digital photography and body language. Surprisingly, in a digital world in which body language and body parts are continually at risk of being sexualized, this interactive project illustrates how digital photographs of girls’ hands can be used to speak out in a positive, creative, and empowering way about girls’ and young women’s perceptions of sexuality and HIV.
Two Hong Kong Women Filmmakers' Perspectives on Sex after 1997
Hong Kong women have been taking up the camera to explore the changing nature of their identity. Linking the depiction of the gendered body with the demand for women’s rights as sexual citizens, several directors have examined changing attitudes toward women’s sexuality. Yau Ching, for example, interrogates the issues of sex work, the internet, and lesbian desire in Ho Yuk: Let’s Love Hong Kong (2002). Barbara Wong’s documentary, Women’s Private Parts (2001), however, uses the televisual talking head interview and observational camera to highlight the way women view their bodies within contemporary Chinese culture. By examining the common ground shared by these very different films, a vision of women’s sexuality emerges that highlights Hong Kong women’s struggle for full sexual citizenship.
Sexual Relations in the Collectivist Society of Tajikistan
Desire focuses on a particular object, while horniness stems from a generalized feeling of sexual arousal. In Tajikistan, people are discouraged from the former and are expected to experience their sexuality as the latter. The story of Rustam and the clashes with his father Malik over the choice of his bride serve to demonstrate the tensions between the two types of sexuality. Women have more difficulties experiencing desire than men, owing to the reification of the hymen and their expected subordination to their husbands. The conceptual differences between Rustam and his father are to some extent due to differences between collectivism and individualism. The concluding discussion suggests that Western culture may be less individualistic in this regard than is often believed.
The Impacts of a Water Crisis on Girls' Sexual Health in Semi-urban Cameroon
Jennifer A. Thompson, Fidelis Folifac and Susan J. Gaskin
In sub-Saharan Africa, girls' daily household chores often involve fetching water for their households. This article addresses the impact of uncertain water access in semi-urban Cameroon given the problems of rapid urbanization and increasing demands for water. A school competition engaged youth and key water sector actors in a dialogue about the water crisis in Buea town, and this resulted in the publication of the water distribution schedule. The event also drew attention to the gendered implications of the crisis in relation to girls' sexual health. Our analysis suggests that girls fetching water face multiple layers of risk that include gender-based violence and blame resulting from the gendered stigma attached to young people's behavior—particularly that of girls. All this serves to increase the moral panic surrounding youth sexualities. We explicitly use the term sexualities (plural) here to recognize the multiple ways in which sexualities may be expressed, constructed and experienced (Arnfred 2005). This research points to the dire need to better understand and consider within water management strategies how girls cope with and confront these risks.
A German Woman Traveling through French West Africa in the Shadow of War
Jennifer Anne Boittin
When Dr. Rosie Gräfenberg traveled to French West Africa in 1929, she set the French security and intelligence service on high alert. Rumors preceding her arrival suggested she might be a Russian agent, a communist agitator, and a German spy, among other things. She, however, presented herself as a German journalist. This article contrasts Gräfenberg's autobiography and newspaper articles with French police archives to consider why the stories surrounding her life diverged so greatly and what variations in detail, fact, and tone reveal about how Franco-German relations influenced considerations of race, nation, gender, and sexuality in the French Empire. In part because her trajectory was so outlandish, Gräfenberg's writings help us to consider the influence of World War I upon interwar colonial politics, procedures, and presumptions.
A number of histories of circumcision have recently been written and in them the case of A. E. Housman, along with a number of others, has acquired a certain prominence. This article reconsiders the existing evidence regarding Housman's circumcision and the various interpretations of it in the secondary literature before going on to examine a number of overlooked sources. While this writing around Housman's circumcision is not without positive results, it will be suggested via a consideration of Jacques Derrida's testimony regarding his own circumcision that the historian of sexuality needs also to contend with an inherent negativity and loss. The testimony provided by a recently uncovered poem on circumcision will prompt the suggestion that we should be wary of overemphasizing the individual example. In conclusion, the article argues that the problematic of Housman's particular case has pertinence because in regard to individual experience we can only ever write around the history of circumcision.
Sexual Subject? Desired Object?
Mary Ann Harlan
In 2016 two nonfiction titles exploring girls and sexuality and presentations of the sexual self received extensive media attention, thus shaping a construction of girl in popular media. In this article I examine how Nancy Jo Sales’s American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers and Peggy Orenstein’s Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape construct girls as sexual subjects and desired objects. In a close reading of the texts I consider how the authors constitute girl and the ways in which girls navigate society’s expectations and constructions of them as sexual subjects. I use the words of girls themselves to examine the dissonance between authorial constructions and the post-feminist culture that emerges in the texts on the one hand, and the girls’ language on the other.