Secondly, one of Haffner’s (2001) principles suggests that AIDS education programmes
should include values on the basis that AIDS education cannot be value free because it
is connected to the most personal parts of people’s lives. However, how this is done
may be problematic for educators unless parents are given a role. A third principle that
is relevant to this study is that AIDS education should be positive about sexuality. In
this study as in many other studies, research findings make evident that sex education
programmes typically focus on the dangers of sex rather than the pleasures of sex or
non-coital experiences that can be pleasurable (Morris, 1994).
The findings of this study draw attention to youth in crisis and the institution of the
crisis instrumental paradigm (Morris, 1994) through traditional educational roles such
as the school. The possibility of reframing youth as active and capable within their
sexual education is an alternative and has a significant implication towards HIV/AIDS
interventions as it draws on youth as a potential resource. The implications of social
identity are particularly significant, and deliberate a consideration of a sex education
that takes into account the sexual values in which youth are embedded. However, this
may be somewhat complex as it challenges the role of the school within a history of
difficulty with regard to establishing sex education. The implications of these findings
further indicates that sex education cannot simply be located during the schooling years
as it is suggestive of the promotion of sexual health or prevention of sexually
transmitted diseases during this period and not beyond.
5.3 THE SOCIAL IDENTITY OF GENDER AND INDIAN-NESS
The significance of gender has been contextualised within sexual culture or gender
differentials. However, viewing gender differentials within the context of social
identity is equally useful. In this study, social identity has been given significance in
relation to the constructions of Indian identity and the use of Indian identity to
constitute meaning. With regard to gender though, social identity theory suggests that
each gender inhabits a social categorisation, categorising the “other” as male when one
is female and vice versa. The basis of this categorisation, are beliefs or perceptions of
the “other” as different (Cameron & Lalonde, 2001). Traditionally males have been
The Social Construction of “Sexual Knowledge” 58
perceived as the more advantaged group and the findings of this study suggest that
Indian males are constructed as the more socially advantaged or sexually advantaged.
The existence of such gender differentials in the talk of youth of Indian-descent
reinforces differential sexual cultures. The implications of this for youth of Indian-
descent, and for HIV/AIDS interventions are somewhat uncertain, and perhaps requires
further research. However, rendering alternatives to this construction means addressing
such differentials and what it means for HIV/AIDS interventions such as sex education
programmes. A great deal of research has recently been focused on males and
constructions of masculinity in an endeavour to more fully understand such differentials
as constituted by each gender (Cameron & Lalonde, 2001). It is this type of research
that needs to be focused on the social identities of both Indian males and females of all
generations to extend our knowledge and shift our understanding of these genders.
Furthermore such research may help to unravel the constitution of traditional parental
roles with regards to sex education.
To a large extent in this study, females related to mother as responsible for their sexual
education and males related to father as a sexual educator. It is the small extent to
which parental roles have shifted in terms of sexual education or indeed socialisation of
children that needs to be focused on as a challenge to these traditional parental roles.
Further research into parental roles in the lives of youth of Indian-descent may help
with this task.
With regard to the aspect of gender as a social identity crucial to furthering our
understanding of how it affects sexuality, it is clear that further research is necessary. It
does make evident that social identity does play a role in the sexual values of
individuals such as youth of Indian-descent. Similarly, the use of an Indian identity to
constitute meaning within constructions of sexual knowledge is significant. It has been
used as a rhetorical strategy that constitutes the lack of parental agency in the sexual
education of youth of Indian-descent. Its consequential role in doing so has led to a
consideration of why it is used to do s The use of social identity theory to understand
this strategy was employed and points to the use of social comparisons as a strategy that
has been termed “othering” in the analysis. That is, youth talk of other cultures by way
of comparison with their own and in doing so construct the Indian social identity.
The Social Construction of “Sexual Knowledge” 59
Social identity theory suggests that differences favouring the outgroup are kept to a
minimum as it does not enhance the status of the ingroup, which in this instance would
be people who claim an Indian identity (Devine, Ashby Plant & Harrison, 1999). The
youth of Indian-descent in this study highlight differences that appear to favour the
outgroup and undermine the ingroup. It suggests perhaps that the perception of the
Indian identity is somewhat negative with regard to sexuality and hence by favouring
the outgroup, and aligning with the outgroup (with regard to sexuality), places one as
more superior to the ingroup in this instance. The implications of this finding suggest
that the sexual values that are aligned with the Indian identity are construed as negative
or unfavourable in comparison to the sexual values aligned with other social identities
such as white people.
Further research into the social identity of Indians in comparison to other identities in
the Southern African context may bring forth how this identity is constructed in such a
way. Yet, in terms of the implications of this finding for youth of Indian-descent, it
does serve to suggest that youth of Indian-descent generally locate their culture as
retrograde in comparison to other cultures and specifically in relation to sexual values.
Such a construction may mean that youth seek to fulfil the sexual values aligned to
other cultures in order to gain the perceived advantage of those cultures. Furthermore, it
indicates that a value-free education is impossible in a multi-cultural context where
youth encounter varied sexual values. The solution may be to suggest that the sexual
values of the Indian population should change, yet this is nothing more than confirming
the perceived advantageous sexual values of the outgroup. A further solution may be to
isolate individuals so that sexual values that conflict with those that one has been
embedded in, are then never sought out. However, this is to deny the possibility of co-
existence and furthermore negates respect and tolerance of values different to one’s
own. Thus, it may be necessary to acknowledge the differential sexual values of the
varied population groups across the spectrum of sexual education mediums.
Additionally, it may be worthwhile to go beyond this and address the youth with the
question of whether it is necessary to address the difference is sexual values and how
then to go about it.
The Social Construction of “Sexual Knowledge” 60