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The Biopolitics of Gender$
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Jemima Repo

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190256913

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190256913.001.0001

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The Birth of Gender

The Birth of Gender

Social Control, Hermaphroditism, and the New Postwar Sexual Apparatus

(p.24) Chapter 1 The Birth of Gender
The Biopolitics of Gender

Jemima Repo

Oxford University Press

This chapter documents and critically analyzes the biopolitical origins of the modern gender discourse. Contrary to the idea that gender originates from feminism, this chapter shows that pioneering sexologist John Money coined and developed the terms “gender” and “gender role” in the 1950s and 1960s in the United States. Through a reading of mid-century sexological studies against the background of structural functionalist and behaviorist theories of social order, the chapter describes how gender was born in the clinic to discipline the reproduction of life in new ways, showing how the gender apparatus produced systematized protocols for sex reassignment surgeries for infants with ambiguous genitalia and how the family was rendered a panoptic institution to ensure the reproduction of human life. The chapter therefore demonstrates how gender originated as a new life-administering technology of social order that did not replace but operated alongside the apparatus of sexuality as described by Foucault.

Keywords:   hermaphroditism, John Money, sex reassignment surgery, ambiguous genitalia, gender role, biopolitical origins, gender apparatus

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