stacy leigh pigg and vincanne adams
Introduction: The Moral Object of Sex
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Our starting point for this volume is the recognition of the multiple moral
investments that people have in sex; our concern is how these investments
are shaped by science, medicine, technology, and planning rationalities. Sex
is a vehicle for moral objectives, and the ‘‘objectification of sex’’ is a moral act.
What, then, are the e√ects of development projects that objectify sexuality?
How does the type of objectivity contained within scientific accounts of the
sexual body enter into social life? If sexuality is located in dense webs of
socially meaningful moralities, then what are the repercussions of the myr-
iad modernizing projects that claim neutrality and objectivity while placing
sexuality within notions of population management, human rights, disease
prevention, risk reduction, child survival, and maternal health? How do the
sexual and reproductive sciences (in tandem with demography, epidemiol-
ogy, and the social sciences) attempt to create a universal ‘‘normal’’ sexuality?
And how do projects touching on sexual and reproductive health make use of
this notion? Sexual practices may be seen as sites for expressing, confirming,
or transgressing various existing and/or imported moral codes and, as such,
they may be seen as having explicit moral ‘‘objectives.’’ However, moralities
are also externally constructed by political arrangements, health programs,
conceptions of biology and reproduction, and nationalisms.
The chapters in this book address the attempts made to objectify sex and
sexuality in the name of health and well-being. Science, medicine, and tech-
nology frame sexual acts in apparently amoral biological terms. In so do-
ing they also generate specific procedures for knowing, manipulating, and
managing bodies. In scientific discourses pertaining to family planning and
AIDS prevention, for example, an implicit set of moral assumptions about