Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Discourse Analysis of Male Sexuality in the Magazine Intimacy

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.

The study aims to reveal how the sex advice articles written in Intimacy for women in regard to their male partner's sexuality reflect patriarchal and phallocentric ideologies.

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.

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.

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.

Intimacy's aim to ‘empower you as its reader and give you permission to take control of your sex life’, is, at best, only a pseudo-empowerment for women in heterosexual relations. It can only ever promote an illusory sense of female control and pleasure as it persists in defining male sexuality according to patriarchal standards. The patriarchal underpinning of male sexuality in Intimacy has been revealed to delimit the sexual act, female sexuality and men to predefined potentials and gender relations: restriction of male sexual expression to the erect penis; notions of ‘real’ sex as penile-vaginal penetration (at the expense of diverse erotic experiences derived from non-genital erogenous zones); biological accounts of the male sex drive (that negate acts of communication and negotiation); the relegation of any sexual act that departs from coitus to foreplay (and thus of secondary importance); and the continual description of the penis as a revered icon of sexual pleasure for both men and women
Full article at:

1Department of Visual Arts, University of Pretoria, South Africa
corresponding authorCorresponding author.
Correspondence to: Rory du Plessis Email:Email:, Postal address: Private Bag X20, Hatfield 0028, South Africa
How to cite this article: Du Plessis R. A discourse analysis of male sexuality in the magazine Intimacy. Afr J Prm Health Care Fam Med. 2015;7(1), Art. #691, 7 pages.

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