Original Research - Special Collection: Sexual Health

A discourse analysis of male sexuality in the magazine Intimacy

Rory du Plessis
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 7, No 1 | a691 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v7i1.691 | © 2015 Rory du Plessis | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 March 2014 | Published: 19 March 2015

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Background: The World Health Organization’s publication, Developing sexual health programmes, states that the media is an important source of information about sexuality. Although the media can promote awareness of sexual health issues, it also acts as a vehicle for defining and regulating sex norms. In other words, the standards of ‘normal’ sex are in part defined by the media. Accordingly, it has become imperative to analyse the media’s construction of sexual norms in order to reveal how they are related to specific ideological views. For the purposes of this study, the focus will be limited to analysing the South African publication Intimacy.

Aim: The study aims to reveal how the sex advice articles written in Intimacyfor women in regard to their male partner’s sexuality reflect patriarchal and phallocentric ideologies.

Method: A discourse analysis of the sex advice articles in the magazine Intimacy was conducted. It was informed by feminist theories of sexuality that seek to examine the ways in which texts are associated with male-centred versions of sexual pleasure.

Results: The discourse analysis identified a number of key themes regarding male sexuality. These include: (1) biological accounts of male sexuality; (2) phallocentric scripting of the sex act; and (3) the melodramatic penis.

Conclusion: Constructions of male sexuality require the inclusion of alternative modes of male erotic pleasure. This requires texts that encourage men to explore and also to experiment with pleasurable feelings associated with non-genital erogenous zones of the body.


male sexuality; female sexuality; gender; patriarchy; phallocentric


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