Telling Sexual Stories: Power, Change, and Social Worlds

By Ken Plummer | Go to book overview

Chapter 10

Intimate citizenship

The politics of sexual story telling

There can be no esoteric ‘truth’ of sex to be discovered by diligent research; only perspectives on contending ‘truths’ whose evaluation is essentially political rather than scientific.

(Jeffrey Weeks) 1


But I who am
bound my mirror
as well as my bed
see causes in Colour
as well as sex


and sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations

(Audre Lorde) 2

As postmodernism pushes itself into everyday life, old political ideologies are collapsing. The boundaries and borders between national states are being redrawn. Traditional meanings of health, illness, Aids, the human body, reproduction, medicine, sexuality, the family, intimacy, love, education, work, leisure, science, religion, art, entertainment and the private and the public are being swept aside. Even as this occurs, fits of nostalgia for the past lead to its re-enactment in contemporary popular culture.

(Norman K. Denzin) 3

Stories, narratives and discourse have all recently started to play a prominent role in understanding the workings of the political and moral life of societies. From many different persuasions, the argument has been made that the stories we tell of our lives are deeply implicated in moral and political change. For the moral philosophers, the sense of self and the meaning of virtue cannot exist outside of webs of narratives. 4 For the political scientist, we have come to inhabit worlds of discourse which regulate lives and where the ability to take control over the story of one’s own life may be seen as a major mode of empowerment. Indeed, ‘education is systematic storytelling’. 5 For the social scientist, the shifting tale of

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