This last point about multiplicitous sexualities and critique of the conception of the subject as a bounded, trans-situational unit, corresponds neatly with Helle – Valle’s critique of the mainstream notion of a person as a unitary, bounded individual. Instead he introduces the term ‘dividual’, in order to “lead our attention to that fact that human beings, irrespective of ideas about ‘indivisibility’ have different perspectives, and in a sense are different persons depending on the communicative contexts they are parts of” (Helle-Valle, this volume). ‘Dividuality’ thus depends on social context. Everybody, in Africa as elsewhere, belong to multiple social contexts, in and out of which they move routinely. Different social contexts of relevance for studies of sexuality are sex in contexts of marriage, and extramarital sex. During fieldwork in Botswana Helle-Valle noticed widespread practices of extra-marital sexual relationships, locally termed bobolete. These relationships belonged to social contexts, which were locally defined and recognized as distinctively different from the marital setting, and different rules would apply to sex in these different settings, a social norm regarding discretion being important in contexts of extra-marital sex. Keeping in mind the distinction introduced above between ‘sex for pleasure’ and ‘sex for procreation’, this distinction between ‘extra-marital’ sex and ‘sex in contexts of marriage’, may be seen as a qualification: there is a partial, not total overlap between the two. In principle sex for procreation should always take place in contexts of marriage, but sometimes sex for pleasure may take place in contexts of marriage as well (cf. Diallo’s chapter).
Re-Thinking Sexualities in Africa: Introduction