"Differently normal" and "normally different": Negotiations of female embodiment in womens accounts of atypical sex development
2013 (English)In: Social Science and Medicine, ISSN 0277-9536, E-ISSN 1873-5347, Vol. 98, 232-238 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
During recent decades numerous feminist scholars have scrutinized the two-sex model and questioned its status in Western societies and medicine. Along the same line, increased attention has been paid to individuals experiences of atypical sex development, also known as intersex or disorders of sex development (DSD). Yet research on individuals experiences of finding out about their atypical sex development in adolescence has been scarce. Against this backdrop, the present article analyses 23 in-depth interviews with women who in their teens found out about their atypical sex development. The interviews were conducted during 2009-2012 and the interviewees were all Swedish. Drawing on feminist research on female embodiment and social scientific studies on diagnosis, I examine how the women make sense of their bodies and situations. First, I aim to explore how the women construe normality as they negotiate female embodiment. Second, I aim to investigate how the divergent manners in which these negotiations are expressed can be further understood via the womens different access to a diagnosis. Through a thematic and interpretative analysis, I outline two negotiation strategies: the "differently normal" and the "normally different" strategy. In the former, the women present themselves as just slightly different from normal women. In the latter, they stress that everyone is different in some manner and thereby claim normalcy. The analysis shows that access to diagnosis corresponds to the ways in which the women present themselves as "differently normal" and "normally different", thus shedding light on the complex role of diagnosis in their negotiations of female embodiment. It also reveals that the women make use of what they do have and how alignments with and work on norms interplay as normality is construed.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier , 2013. Vol. 98, 232-238 p.
Sweden; Normality; Negotiation; Diagnosis; Female embodiment; Atypical sex development; Qualitative analysis; Young women
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-104132DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.09.018ISI: 000329273600029OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-104132DiVA: diva2:694654