The panel invites discussions of paradigms that demonstrate how rural and urban spaces impact on sexuality and sexual practices in Africa, and how this impact is differentiated between different genders, different sexualities, classes and trans-border spaces.
Sexuality is one of the areas in which rural-urban dichotomies are perceived as deep and invariable. To start with, sexuality is generally seen as being culturally mediated in rural areas, with an associated sense of nobility and restraint, but socially mediated in urban areas with a sense of relative moral indifference or lack of moral stricture. In other words, urbanity is associated with negative values in the department of sexuality and sexual practices,while rurality is represented as positively idyllic.
These dichotomies are not just value-laden but are in many cases gendered and hierarchical. For example, the 'push-pull' factor in rural-urban migration is generally seen as gendered - sexual migration is almost always regarded as a female phenomenon, not just in terms of transactional sexual exchange, but in terms of power and amplified sexual agency. Similarly, sexual practices perceived as being enhanced by urbanity are almost always defined in female, and negative, terms - e.g. prostitution, transactional sex, 'duplicitous sexuality,' 'unbridled sexuality,' etc. At another level, female urban sexual gaze may be contrasted with male rural gaze (e.g. the search for virgins).
Just how mistaken, or otherwise, are these rural-urban sexuality stereotypes with respect to Africa? The panel invites discussions of the multiple paradigms that demonstrate how rural and urban spaces impact on sexuality and sexual practices in Africa, and how this impact is differentiated between different genders, different sexualities, classes and trans-border spaces. The representation of these paradigms in literature and culture is of particular interest to the panel.