This article explores the subject of sexual rights and the claims about such rights as they are made by and for men. It considers the different bases of these claims, which range from some men’s experience of sexual oppression to other men’s experience of their gender socialisation.
The article highlights the issues of power and privilege, which often lie hidden within such claims and calls for a discourse of ‘men and sexual rights’ that can take account of both gender norms and sexual hierarchies. Central to this call is a conception of accountability that is at once personal and political; the political accountability of dutybearers to promote and protect the sexual rights of all rights-holders, men and women; and the personal accountability of men in relation to the ways in which their gender privilege serves to deny the sexual rights of others.
My understanding of these issues springs from my work over the last 20 years on HIV/AIDS, gender and violence, mostly as an independent consultant working with non-profit organisations to support their work in the global South and as an activist working on issues of masculinity, violence and social justice in the USA.