Year: 2004
Working paper number: 068
Author: Leclerc-Madlala, Suzanne
Unit: SSU

This paper explores meanings and understandings of sexual exchange for material gain in an urban township of Durban, South Africa. The analysis argues against the tendency to assume too readily that all forms of sexual exchange are oriented towards subsistence, and not consumption. This paper also argues that sexual exchange is the means used by women in this study to pursue images and ideals largely created by the media and globalisation. It is revealed that transactional sex is perceived as 'normal' leading many women to accept men's multiple partners and to put themselves as risk of contracting HIV/AIDS (despite having knowledge of the pandemic). Finally, the paper highlights women's power and agency whereby women are asserting themselves in order to exploit sexual relationships in the interests of new 'needs' – the commodities of modernity.

Publication file: wp68.pdf