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Public(ations of) private parts: Materialisations and meanings of genitals
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, The Department of Gender Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2013 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

For centuries the genitals of humans and other mammals have been conventionally interpreted within Western medicine as the most fundamental marker of their sex. This view has been persistent simultaneously with suggestions of other biological structures (e.g. sex hormones, chromosomes, and genes) being “the real” or “fundamental” sex. Interestingly, however, genitals have generally continued to be perceived as the most important basis for the formation of normal and abnormal gender identities and sexualities. Thus specific genital morphologies have been considered to be crucial for the formation of a normal self. In this paper I explore examples of the relation between the materialisations and meanings of genitals and idea(l)s about how a normal gendered_sexed body_self should materialise taken from different Danish medical contexts in the 20thcentury. These include narratives about various technologies for materialising genitals as well as different subjects’ experiences of the materialisation of genitals such as sex reassignment surgery, sex hormone treatment, prostheses, phantom genitals, and the choice not to have genital modifications. I consider in which ways these technologies and practices and the experiential narratives have contributed to normalising and queering of genitals, and how they have reinstalled and displaced them as the center and sign of gender_sex and selfhood. In order to imagine and formulate an ethics of dealing with genital differences that might lead to (more) liveable lives for individuals with diverse body morphologies, I raise the question: Which potentials and dangers might these forms of knowledge have for thinking gender_sex and selfhood differently?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University , 2013.
Keyword [en]
Diverse genital morphologies, markers of sex and gender, embodied self, livable lives, intersex, trans, materialisation and meaning, surgery, sex hormones
National Category
Gender Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-115086ISBN: 978-91-7519-581-0OAI: diva2:793524
Missing Links: The Somatechnics of Decolonisation, the 7th International Somatechnics Conference, Linköping University, 17-19 June 2013.
PhD-project with the preliminary title Fleshing Out the Self
Available from: 2015-03-06 Created: 2015-03-06 Last updated: 2015-03-11

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Holm, Marie-Louise
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The Department of Gender StudiesFaculty of Arts and Sciences
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