Introduction Women and Sexuality: Global Lives in Focus examines historical and contemporary issues pertaining to women’s sexualities around the world. Each chapter addresses a different geographic region, including North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Central and East Asia, South and South- east Asia, and Oceania. The topics covered in each chapter include culture and attitudes toward sexuality, religion and sexuality, sexual violence, reproductive health and menstruation, marriage and partnerships, and the media and sexuality. This format enables readers to consider the experi- ences of women cross-culturally, evaluating how they are both similar and different. One construct that has heavily influenced women’s sexuality in all regions is patriarchy. We begin by defining this and other constructs that are central to understanding the content in this book. After defining key terms, we review important theories that help explain and contextual- ize women’s sexuality. Our hope is that the reader will refer back to these concepts and theories as they move through the chapters. DEFINING KEY TERMS Patriarchy “Patriarchy” refers to a societal system in which men have more power than women. Power is defined as the ability to influence people. In patriar- chal societies, men have more financial resources than women do, and they occupy a greater number of leadership roles. Nearly every country in the world is considered patriarchal (Kimmel 2017). It is impossible to dis- cuss women’s sexualities without addressing patriarchy, because in many
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