… even the attempt to avoid assumptions about the meanings of desires, acts, and relationships by using a term such as “same-sex sexuality” may inadvertently lump together phenomena that are quite different.

Leila Rupp, “Toward a Global History of Same-Sex Sexuality,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 10, no. 2 (2001): 287.


As each module has shown so far, sexuality is not simply linked to sex, but encompasses many different aspects of our lives beyond just sex alone. It can been described by exploring three important aspects: sexual behavior, sexual orientation, and sexual identity. However, these three factors, like many other aspects of our lives, look different depending on our socialization, cultural background, geographic location, etc. and need to be taken into account when trying to understand what influences the definition of sexuality outside of our own socio-cultural sphere. 

In this lesson, we explore how Western concepts of sexuality register differently in the global context. We begin with a consideration of the notion of the “Muslim woman” and how the West has created an image of Islam that has cast women in colonial discourse as victims of their oppressive culture and traditions and allowed colonialism to emerge as their savior. As we near the end of this module and the end of this course, we turn to a unique manifesto as a possibility to think about Western sexuality differently.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Describe terms such as Orientalism, Muslim woman, and visibility
  • Understand how visibility and coming out are connected to the regulation of sexuality
  • Understand the difference between same-sex sexuality and homosexuality

Moving Forward

Each module contains a big idea + lesson, assigned resources, and a summary page. Visit each section below by clicking or tapping the images.