Regulating Sex: The Politics of Intimacy and Identity (Perspectives on Gender)

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This book is a must read for scholars and students of sexuality, social movements, and women's studies. Convert currency. Add to Basket. Compare all 13 new copies. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Regulating Sex discusses the various ways that sex and sexuality are regulated by government and society. Topics include: sexual abuse in families, sex tourism in the Caribbean, U. This collection has an impressive array of contributors writing on compelling topics.

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Condition: NEW. For all enquiries, please contact Herb Tandree Philosophy Books directly - customer service is our primary goal. Condition: Brand New. In Stock. Seller Inventory BTE Regulating Sex Perspectives on Gender. Other, obscurer laws, most also colonial in origin, enforce dress codes or give police wide power to arrest and harass people. Censorship stifles media discussions of sexuality and gender. In Uganda, for instance, a radio station was slapped with a substantial fine just for hosting LGBT activists on a program. Many LGBT organizations are unable to register legally or operate in the open.

One fact is crucial: the ever-looming possibility of backlash. Almost every time LGBT activists in a country between the Limpopo and the Sahara have first gained public visibility, a crackdown followed. It happened:. Virtually any move LGBT groups make, from renting an apartment to holding a press conference, can feed a violent moral panic, where media, religious figures, and government collude.

Their allies on the continent and outside, though, must ensure they do not encourage action without anticipating the risk, and:. State-sponsored homophobia has become a political staple in many African countries. Its roots arguably lie in the colonial period, when European rulers imported Victorian moral standards, as well as legal codes with criminal penalties for homosexual conduct. Religious fundamentalists, in most countries, imitated rather than drove the exploitation of homophobia. But they did so with a vengeance.

Conservative evangelical movements are burgeoning in southern Africa, with heavy support from North American partners. Sexuality is more than ever a war zone where religious forces strive for social and political power. The bid by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola a strong supporter of the bill to split the Anglican Church in opposition to acceptance of gays and lesbians is only one symptom. The appeal to culture brings violence in its wake. Some blame them for the disease; others, including key policy-makers, refuse to admit they are vulnerable at all to an epidemic portrayed as mainly heterosexual LGBT groups are often excluded from HIV policy discussions or funding.

South Africa remains a special case. Uniquely progressive laws and policies are not implemented in the communities where they are most needed. South Africa refuses to integrate human rights into its foreign policy. In the last decade, it has been unwilling to take the lead on sexual-rights issues in international fora. At the same time, institutional change offers signs of hope.

Also promising is the slow integration, in a few countries such as Uganda, of sexuality and sexual-rights issues into legal education. Cross-regional cooperation among LGBT groups, after false starts, has taken off. Activists now have fora to share experiences directly relevant to them, and on-the-ground expertise that cannot come from outside. These opportunities are invaluable.


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In Nigeria, given 48 hours to prepare for a legislative hearing on the repressive bill in , LGBT activists mustered mainstream allies and rushed to Abuja, the capital, to lobby for their freedoms. Their unexpected appearance—and the support they received from the human rights community and a few religious figures—helped stall the bill in the Assembly, where it died.

Victories are possible. Coalition-building made it easier to withstand threats and take a public and political stand. Ugandan LGBT networks have also opted for public visibility and political protest. But the risks are real. Police arrested and tortured three Ugandan activists who staged a demonstration in mid In other countries, groups are looking for lower-profile, local points to engage with powerful actors.

These include:. Most groups cite the need to build community and identity, and to reach beyond the urban circles where they are now confined. There is a basic need for a toll-free hotline to ensure that even those in the rural areas can get access to counseling services. However, arguments that reach beyond identity are also needed. Much LGBT activism in Africa has pursued the paradigm of minority rights, perhaps because that framework has a long history on the continent. Meanwhile, resources are a continual challenge. Indiscriminate funding has divided and destroyed some groups in recent years.

In Egypt between , police arrested and tortured hundreds or thousands of men for homosexual sex.


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Since then:. These have all the marks of moral panics: they go beyond simply enforcing the law, and aim instead to rid society of a deeply frightening enemy. Law clearly enables the crackdowns. All the countries in the region criminalize homosexual conduct between men and some between women —except Israel and, at present, Iraq where evidence is rapidly mounting that some militias are targeting non-conforming men and women for torture and murder. Some outsiders mass these laws together as products of Islam, pure and simple.

This is not true. Saudi Arabia enforces a particularly strict version. Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, all criminalize homosexual sex under secular laws with fines and prison terms—laws that mostly have colonial origins. Islamists may march for stringency in Morocco, but the law they want enforced is not Islamic in origin. Secular, authoritarian regimes—facing down demands to democratize from leftist movements as well as Islamic dissidents—seem as likely to carry out crackdowns on sexuality as religiously-based ones, if not more so. Reports from Saudi Arabia suggest sporadic, large-scale arrests targeting men who have sex with men, but are insufficient to deduce a pattern.

Iran regularly arrests and tortures men, women, and transgender people under suspicion of same-sex conduct, but there is no real indication that arrests or executions have increased in recent years. A different perspective comes not from looking at the highly publicized cases involving men, but from listening to lesbian and bisexual women. Law, custom, economy, and family are all implicated as well. This means the crackdowns may connect to fears that norms for gender and sexuality are shifting or breaking down.

Women who defy those norms and men who escape them are equally at risk. It is worth remembering that the law under which Egyptian men are tried for same-sex conduct was originally a law targeting women in prostitution. Culture and politics, daily life and law, are equally at issue, then. They need somewhere to be safe, to find other women, to be able to communicate with them.

The major problem is the family and the culture. If you can get knowledge to your family and get them to accept you, you still have to worry about the law and your life, about what happens if the larger community discovers you are a lesbian. There is no respite: when you think you are safe at home, you could step out on the street and be arrested. In most of the region, civil society is under severe attack. While even highly restrictive countries have allowed selected NGOs limited freedom to operate since the s began, the limits are tightly drawn. Human rights organizations suffer especially from harassment, bureaucratic restrictions, surveillance, and arrests.

Governments are quick to use any pretext to discredit them before the broader public—making it doubly risky to take up divisive or difficult issues. Legal constraints, together with lack of resources, make it hard even for sympathetic NGOs to investigate rights abuses shrouded in stigma or secrecy: many simply cannot collect the information. Internet use has burgeoned in the region. It has also been vital in developing a gay and to some extent lesbian or transgender identity and community.

The advantage is that it lets people communicate who would never have dared or had the means before. However, much communication remains anonymous, impersonal, and mistrustful. Since most of the websites used by such communities to meet and socialize are Western gay ones, despite a vigorous blogging community in Iran and Egypt , people articulate their identity and community almost entirely in borrowed terms or bricolage. Getting wired remains expensive. Dependence on cyberspace accentuates economic divides. Most governments censor the Internet, as they censor other information.

Almost anything about sexuality falls under the rubric of pornography. Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other countries try to block most gay sites. These examples affirm that sexual rights like all human rights in the region cannot exist without progress toward democracy: curbing police powers, establishing rule of law, ending censorship, and freeing civil society.

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Despite hopeful indications in some countries earlier this decade, that progress is largely blocked. In Egypt, for instance, the government carefully split the democracy movement while the U. Islamist popular movements have not gained power anywhere in the region except Iran. That very fact gives fundamentalism a dissident prestige, and in countries like Egypt and Morocco it threatens to monopolize opposition politics.

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Embattled sexual rights activists obviously fear that democratic openings will bring political Islam to power. In some places, particularly Egypt, secular human rights activists have been able to forge expedient alliances with Islamists over core issues such as arbitrary detention and torture. It is not clear whether those alliances—necessary for the moment—have sparked a commitment among Islamist activists to integrating human rights principles with belief. In the long run, it must be remembered that much of modern political Islam has been, paradoxically, a democratizing force within the faith: a popular movement shaking the power of judges and scholars.

There is no intrinsic reason—though there may be strong sociological ones—why a similar populist drive within Islam could not support politically as well as theologically democratic tendencies. Some organizations—in Europe, South Africa, Indonesia—are already sounding out the space for such support. Despite government inaction, awareness of AIDS and informed thinking about sexuality are growing among youth. Several popular Egyptian actors spoke out in against the crackdown on HIV-positive men. The medical profession remains in the sway of 19th century European myths about sexuality.

Programs to train doctors of almost every kind in approaches to sexuality and gender are urgently needed. In a few countries, doctors and lawmakers together have laid out a relatively liberal approach to transgender people: Iran and Egypt have allowed gender reassignment surgeries and change of identity for almost 20 years. Nonetheless, in both countries police arrest and torture transgender people, even with medical papers.

Sparse information on sexuality in the region—or related rights violations—goes beyond the borders. What reaches the Western press mostly draws on anecdotes or travelogues. Misinformation can spread; underground activists in the region have little control over what is said or done on their behalf abroad. In a few places, like Egypt and Morocco, sexual orientation and gender identity issues have begun to enter the agendas of some mainstream human rights movements. Now, unlike in earlier years, there are lawyers to defend people when they are arrested, and voices to speak up in the press.

These vital developments were not won through identity politics. Rather, the mainstreaming was won largely by framing the situations of LGBT or otherwise-identified people in terms of the rights violations, and protections, that existing human rights movements understand. Talking about rights rather than identities, and seeking support from mainstream movements vulnerable as they are , is the way those protections are likely to move forward significantly in the foreseeable future. No country shows much hope of lightening legal penalties through legislative action.

In a few countries—Egypt is one—there are limited possibilities for reinterpreting existing legal provisions through strategic litigation. Religious law does not rule in most states, but it affects and inflects secular law and its enforcement. Even offering legal defense in the places where it is possible requires finding and training lawyers willing and able to take the cases. Reforming medical attitudes means working with conservative professional groups often dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. Both these tasks need creative approaches, from inside and outside the region.

Some activists imagine new paths to political visibility. In a few places, courageous activists have won real social space for LGBT communities. Lebanon, which has a functioning LGBT center that hosts public discussions and cultural events, is the foremost example. There, too, cultivating alliances with other human rights movements has been a key to success. While rights claims may need to be detached from identity, there is a desperate need for building community. Young people are particularly subject to exploitation and despair.

Studying case files from the Egyptian crackdown in reveals a grim figure: most of those arrested and tortured were under Emerging into sexual maturity, they found no community to warn them about social and political dangers, no mentors to protect them from the police. We give women the basic knowledge they are not sick—translating all this information and putting it in one place.

You should fight with the homophobia inside yourself. Even moving from cyberspace to personal contact takes time, and courage. Who would have imagined? Europe, after all, produced the first international legal findings that sexual orientation was protected by the right to privacy. After the Wall fell in , lesbians and gays were among the first to claim political rights, form organizations, campaign to end repressive laws. European institutions stood behind them, supporting legal reform and safeguards for intimate life.

Ten years of international pressure led Romania finally to scrap its Ceausescu-era ban on homosexual sex. Who would have supposed that 20 years later, political leaders would call for beating and jailing LGBT people; that, in ostensibly democratic states, police would stand by while neo-Nazis bashed peaceful marchers? Europe in the 21st century was not meant to be like this. The pictures are the most memorable evidence of this unexpected Europe: faces bleeding, people running, the air streaked with tear-gas trails.

These photographs have burst forth every spring and summer for several years, as LGBT groups try to stage pride marches in Cracow, Chisinau, Moscow. His political allies called for criminalizing anyone who introduced LGBT issues in Polish schools, and for beating any daring marchers with batons. Russian politicians reminded voters that the sodomy law had been abolished fifteen years before under pressure from the West, and told gays, in effect: We gave you your rights in the bedroom; keep off the streets.

Banning the marches became a way of defining who belonged in the public sphere, who could participate in politics at all. The backlash—the threat to freedoms of expression and association—is only one sign of a swelling violence. Political and religious figures who vilify LGBT people encourage both organized extremists and ordinary haters to move them up the roster of targets.

The violence happens in places where LGBT people have little visibility. Bosnian activists speak of death threats. Regular assaults against transgender people by police and private individuals, and gang attacks on gay men, go unpunished. There are less visible inequalities. Countries admitted to the EU have been compelled to adopt anti-discrimination standards, which protect sexual orientation in employment though not, as yet, in other areas of life.

In many places, though, no effective enforcement exists. In countries beyond the new iron curtain—the one separating states with a hope of EU admission from those, like Russia, with none—neither the law nor international standards offer real recourse from discrimination. Recent European Court of Human Rights decisions guarantee transgender people who have undergone surgeries the right to change their legal identities. These decisions make rights depend on medical intervention, however, and most EU countries require sterilization, among other medical invasions, as a condition of identity change.

Some states in the region, like Turkey, have essentially adopted European practices on surgery and identity. In others, like Kyrgyzstan, the medical profession looks on gender identity with incomprehension—and transgender people face violence in family and community with little access to justice. Due to that social distance, violence is seen as an acceptable way of dealing with or reacting to sexual minorities. So we are not at the point of discussing marriage or relationships at all.

In many countries, movements that trace their origin to s fascism are reviving in skinhead garb. The mere possibility of EU entry brought real political liberalization to Turkey. However, many EU states feel its elasticity to absorb new members is at an end. In some apparently straightforward matters, it has exercised little influence: a Maltese activist points out that EU membership has still left his country the only one on the continent where divorce is illegal. There are many things that Serbia needs to change, and if two more high profile war criminals are extradited, the EU might not be that demanding on sexual rights issues.

Groups also face funding challenges. Activists are operating with very little funding, fighting among themselves for the little funding that has been left.

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We need to invest in people and keep the experienced people in the organization. Many activists in Eastern Europe make cultural change a priority: fighting invisibility and the climate of violence.

Regulating Sex: The Politics of Intimacy and Identity - CRC Press Book

For most activists, however, legal and policy change remain critical. Goals they mention include:. Comprehensive anti-discrimination laws, a key element of EU integration, also remain a central goal. Serbia in passed such a law, amid opposition from the Orthodox Church but with the support of rights activists both in the country and in the rest of Europe.

However, the passage from paper protections to full implementation also demands close monitoring. Hopes for such change vary immensely, between the repressive atmosphere of Russia—where neither courts nor lawmakers preserve much independence or have time for LGBT concerns—to the openness of Hungary and the Czech Republic where forms of partnership and other protections have been achieved. The question many activists ask is: given the role European integration has played in legal and political change so far, can European institutions still support LGBT rights effectively?

The EU is obviously not the only player.

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The Council of Europe has taken an active role in condemning hate crimes and promoting free assembly. Russian activists plan regular appeals to the ECHR against decisions denying them the right to demonstrate. The most significant test is coming soon within the EU itself. A new anti-discrimination directive—launched after much hesitation by the European Commission, and after vocal pressure from human rights groups across the Union—would finally extend protections for sexual orientation to a broad range of areas of life, including access to goods and services.

It would extend similar protection to those suffering discrimination due to religion, age, or disability. Both in new member and in non-member states, however, activists also look to alliances with other domestic movements to press forward reforms. Making any sense of the complexity means leaving much of the richness out. One way of organizing the differences from an LGBT perspective is to look at the sodomy laws. In most of South Asia—Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, stretching over to Malaysia and Singapore and some Pacific islands—versions of the same British colonial provision were handed down from code to code.

In India itself, Section gives the police enormous powers to harass and blackmail. But so do other provisions, particularly the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, which regulates sex work. It is a basis for regular harassment of hijras working-class transgender individuals and other gender-nonconforming communities--as well as many women, whether in commercial sex work or not.

Harassment in schools and silence in curricula are regional concerns. They have only begun reforming policy and practice on sexual orientation and gender identity. In much of East Asia and part of the Pacific , homosexual conduct is not criminalized. Sexual orientation with six other categories was dropped from an anti-discrimination law in South Korea in , at the urging of Protestant churches and business leaders. China has seen police crackdowns on gay and lesbian bars, baths, and cultural events. Authorities regularly harass or detain AIDS activists.

Newspapers carry as little gay-related news as possible As in other regions, legal registration is difficult for many groups to obtain, either due to morals restrictions or the effect of sodomy laws. In many parts of Asia, different forms of fundamentalism are able to set aside differences and cooperate locally where sexual orientation and gender identity are at stake. As in other regions, nationalism and religious intolerance come together in a conception of cultural authenticity that excludes sexual or gender nonconformity.

Asian exceptionalism —the ideology that the continent had different political needs and values, that individual rights protections were at odds with collectivist traditions and an unwanted brake on economic advances—retreated after the economic crises of the late s. Yet it still materializes as an excuse for state neglect or inaction, particularly in sensitive areas such as sexuality. More concretely, the absence of an Asian regional human rights structure leaves activists without a near-at-hand institutional focus for advocacy, or for networking with mainstream human rights groups. In some cases it did so simply by making conversations about sexuality possible.

But now we can discuss the health issues It means the circumstances are being changed slowly but continuously. The most important doors now ajar, though, are arguably those to funders. After taking the lead in the lead in outreach and prevention efforts, many LGBT groups found grants available for the first time.

At the same time, this sparked internecine competitions over identity—over who should be supported for outreach to what communities under what names. The funding streams also confined many groups to service provision and sapped their energy for advocacy.

MSM are much more than just sexual beings. Asian social movements—sexuality and gender-related movements among them—are rich in strategic discussions and disagreements. It is impossible to capture more than a small part of the manifold perspectives posited and directions proposed. At least one success story has inspired LGBT activists throughout the region.

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The step from service provision to advocacy is still difficult for groups to manage, given funding constraints. Even after many victories, Nepalese activists admit there is much to be done. Judicial acknowledgement and political influence still do not mean improvements for many of their constituencies.

The relationship between legal change and social change is a crucial question for many activists in the region. Law and policy should never be our priorities even as we recognize the need for them to keep pace with changes we are making on the ground. Even recognizing the importance of removing Section , Indian activists long debated the relative value of litigation as opposed to broad social mobilization against the provision. Similar divisions occur—or are likely to—in other countries, including those where anti-discrimination protections are a key goal. In India, a compromise has been achieved.

If Section goes down in India, its fall will echo through the region. It will raise the question of what comes next. An anti activist points to future priorities:. For instance, eliminating and ensuring that hijras can gain IDs will remove some sources of abuse—but will not affect the criminal-justice machinery regulating and repressing sex work, overwhelmingly the legal pretext for the police impunity and violations hijras face.

Groups across the region warn that the push for stricter anti-trafficking policies generates expanded state power over all sexualities in public and often private spheres. For years, some activists in Asia have criticized the uncritical importation of Western identity constructs as templates for sexuality and gender. Many also question the weight placed on national-level lobbying at the expense of local work.

We prefer to work with CBOs [community-based organizations] in rural areas around the country. Most work to date in India that focuses on MSM has been focused on urban spaces. Groups also look to non-social-movement allies. In Indonesia, LGBT activists, after cautious bridge-building with the Ministry of Religious Affairs, have quietly engaged in dialogues and trainings with young imams, raising issues of sexuality and gender. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movements in Latin America have achieved an astonishing record of success in the last 20 years.

The Caribbean, a distinctive case, will be dealt with in a separate subsection. LGBT groups have seized on democratic openings to enter the political and cultural spheres. Despite steady harassment, they have become visible and stayed vocal. The intensity of debate among activists, the degree of networking across the continent, and the diversity of identities and demands they bring to bear, are perhaps greater than anywhere else in the world. The remaining sodomy laws have fallen one by one.

Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela now have national protections against sexual-orientation-based discrimination—though none for gender identity. In , Uruguay became the first Latin American country to recognize same-sex relationships by law at the national level, although many cities and provinces in the region already offer domestic partnerships.

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Yet progress has had an uneven reach. What happens next? That is done, and now our priority is to have sexual orientation included in the anti-discrimination law, which now mentions ethnicity, color, sex—but not this. Then we will move to civil rights and full citizenship. Who is left out?