Sexual pleasure empowers women


Images of women as victims are rampant in gender and development. This is particularly the case in discussions of sexuality, where the world is portrayed as so fraught with danger, it seems almost impossible to imagine women enjoying themselves. This focus on the negative can be paralyzing – both in terms of ease with one’s own body, and in terms of mobilizing around women’s wants and desires. And such narratives dovetail with religious right agendas to protect women’s chastity. In this article, I argue that promoting pleasure is one part of how to get beyond victimhood, and can even help in addressing sexual violence.


Jolly, S. Sexual pleasure empowers women. Contestations (2010) (2) [Content also available in Chinese]

Published 1 January 2010