chapter  10
15 Pages

Constructions of safe sex

Between desire and governmentality
ByMariah Larsson

Since HIV/AIDS was first identified and conceptualized as an infection without cure and transmitting through various sexual acts, different ways of protection and prevention were prescribed. Perhaps the most significant of these was the idea of “safe sex.” With the sexual revolution in the 1960s, and gay liberation following shortly after, sexuality had seemed, for a brief time, freed from the shackles of fear. Now, however, a new threat crept into sexual encounters – most notably within the gay community – and the only way to protect oneself was to adhere to the practices of safe (or safer) sex: abstinence, monogamy, and/or condom use (to be used throughout any sexual act that could lead to the exchange of bodily fluids). Comparing conceptualizations and constructions of safe, safer, and unsafe sex (using these as search terms) in interviews and outtakes made in various countries across the globe from 1988, 1998, and 2008, the chapter asks: How is safe sex defined? Who or what is identified as a threat or the enemy? Where is responsibility placed?