Cheryl Chase has argued that “the problem” of intersex is one of “stigma and trauma, not gender,” as those focused on medical management would have it. Despite frequent references to shame in the critical literature, there has been surprisingly little analysis of shame, or of the disgust that provokes it. This paper investigates the function of disgust in the medical management of intersex and seeks to understand the consequences—material and moral—with respect to the shame it provokes.Conventional ethical approaches may not (...) provide quite the right tools to consider this affective dimension of the medical management of intersex, but we find in Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morality a framework that allows us a profound appreciation of its moral significance (Nietzsche 1887/1998). Understanding doctors' disgust—and the disgust that they promote in parents of those born with atypical anatomies—as a contemporary expression of ressentiment directs us to not focus on the bodies of those born with intersex conditions, which have been the privileged objects of attention both in medical practice and in criticisms of it, but moves us to consider instead the bodies of those whose responses constitute the motivating force for normalizing practices in the first place. (shrink)
In this paper, I apply Michel Foucault’s analysis of normalization to the 2006 announcement by the US and European Endocrinological Societies that variations on the term “hermaphrodite” and “intersex” would be replaced by the term, “Disorders of Sex Development” or DSD. I argue that the change should be understood as normalizing in a positive sense; rather than fighting for the demedicalization of conditions that have significant consequences for individuals’ health, this change can promote the transformation of the conceptualization of intersex (...) conditions from “disorders like no other” to “disorders like many others.” Understood in these terms, I conclude, medical attention to those with atypical anatomies should be recast from a preoccupation with “normal appearance” to the concern with human flourishing that is the proper object of medical attention. (shrink)
: Even as feminist analyses have contributed in important ways to discussions of how gender is raced and race is gendered, there has been little in the way of comparative analysis of the specific mechanisms that are at work in the production of each. Feder argues that in Michel Foucault's analytics of power we find tools to understand the reproduction of whiteness as a complex interaction of distinctive expressions of power associated with these categories of difference.
The recent publication of Michel Foucault’s 1974-75 and 1975-76 lectures at the Collège de France provides an opportunity to reconsider the potential contribution of Foucault’s “analytics” of power for understanding the contemporary operation of race. Unlike the deployment of gender, which, I argue here, is best understood as a function of “disciplinary” power, the deployment of race is primarily a function of “biopower,” an expression of power that is bound up with the state apparatus. The announcement of the federal Violence (...) Initiative in the 1990s provides an illuminating example of the operation of this power, and the chiasmic function of discourse that Foucault famously termed “power/knowledge.”. (shrink)
Ladelle McWhorter's Bodies and Pleasures provides an unusual and important reading of Michel Foucault's later work. This response is an effort to introduce McWhorter's project and to describe the challenge it presents to engage in askesis, the transformative exercise of thinking, which McWhorter's work itself exemplifies.
: Ladelle McWhorter's Bodies and Pleasures provides an unusual and important reading of Michel Foucault's later work. This response is an effort to introduce McWhorter's project and to describe the challenge it presents to engage in askesis, the transformative exercise of thinking, which McWhorter's work itself exemplifies.