“Let’s Go 50/50”: The Everyday Embodiment of Sexuality Amongst African Young People

Lauren Graham, Memory Mphaphuli

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The ways in which young men and women embody dominant and alternative discourses of femininity and masculinity are profoundly shaped by their local realities, as well as the sociocultural discourses they are exposed to – something that is often overlooked in much literature regarding youth sexuality. While common theoretical conceptions of masculinity and femininity suggest that there are normative or dominant discourses of sexuality, emerging research focusing on the ways in which young people engage with multiple, seemingly contradictory discourses is sparse. This chapter considers the dominant ways in which young people’s sexuality has been considered in literature, particularly in literature focusing on Africa, and points to emerging bodies of literature that challenge researchers to more deliberately embody and contextually locate young people’s sexuality. In doing so, two key arguments are made: firstly, that academic discussions of sexuality often refer to dominant norms and values regarding gender and sexuality, but very seldom consider local-level realities and negotiations of multiple and competing discourses of sexuality; and secondly, that in the context of HIV, very little research is aimed at understanding youth sexuality (and particularly African youth’s sexuality) outside of a discourse of risk and risk prevention. By challenging these two dominant trends in the literature on youth sexuality and noting emerging literature that does the same, this chapter makes the case for a research agenda that seeks to consider youth sexualities in ways that are nonjudgmental, that seek to understand youth voices about their experience of sexuality, and are sufficiently contextually located. Such an approach would make way for a literature on youth sexualities that is far more embodied and revealing.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Children and Youth Studies
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9789814451154
ISBN (Print)9789814451147
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Psychology


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