Deconstructing the 'sugar daddy': A critical review of the constructions of men in intergenerational sexual relationships in South Africa
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Since a recent Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) prevalence study highlighted the relationship between intergenerational sex and risk of HIV infection, a range of studies in Southern Africa have documented the commonality of sexual relations between older men and young women. For the most part, these studies have focused on the material and status benefits for the young women, and on their vulnerability to HIV, violence and unwanted pregnancies, within the context of gender power inequalities to negotiate safe and equitable sex. In this Focus we review this literature and argue that there is a relative absence of focus on attempting to understand the older men's positions. We suggest the need for research that offers a more nuanced account of the complexities of men's performances of sexuality, which will move beyond depicting older men as inevitable perpetrators of unequal sexual relationships with younger women. In order to better understand and address the complexities of intergenerational sexual relationships, men's constructions of their sexuality and their gains and investments in such relationships require more critical analysis.