Taking an expansive approach to the many valences of “sex,” this issue brings together perspectives from sociologists, historians, anthropologists, and science studies scholars to consider the emergence of sex as a category, its surprising geographical and historical variability, and its imbrication with processes of regulation, racialization, and commodification. The issue challenges any attempt to ground sex universally in anatomy or to demarcate a firm boundary around what constitutes a sexual act. Articles trace repeated but often divergent attempts to define and redefine what “sex” is—from the historical construction of biologized sex in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Western Europe, to the discovery of sex at the chromosomal level, to changes in the interpretation of sexual behavior in animals after WWII, to the emergence of the concept of “gender” during research on intersex. Exploring how groups in wildly divergent contexts inhabit spaces where alternative sexual norms might take hold, articles limn lesbian masculinities in South Africa, trans and disabled activism and performance, and women’s sexual fluidity in a global historical context. They describe both the pleasures to be found in the margins and the often violent consequences of breaking the heterosexist rules of sexual anatomy and activity. The issue also calls on feminist scholars to question their own normativities around sexed and gendered embodiments, most pointedly in their relations with and representations of transsexual women.
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The full table of contents is below:
Symposium: Before Sex
Edited by Michael McKeon
The Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Sexuality Hypothesis
The Rise of Sex in the Eighteenth Century: Historical Context and Historiographical Implications
Thomas W. Laqueur
Women’s Bodies and the Making of Sex in Seventeenth-Century England
The Reformulation of Sexual Knowledge in Eighteenth-Century England
The Transformation of Sodomy from the Renaissance to the Modern World and Its General Sexual Consequences
Sexual Fluidity “Before Sex”
Transsexual Women and Feminist Thought: Toward New Understanding and New Politics
“An Unnamed Blank That Craved a Name”: A Genealogy of Intersex as Gender
David A. Rubin
Sexing the X: How the X became the “Female Chromosome”
Sarah S. Richardson
Gender across the Animal-Human Boundary: Making Males Aggressive and Females Coy
Erika Lorraine Milam
Paradoxes of Butchness: Lesbian Masculinities and Sexual Violence in Contemporary South Africa
Amanda Lock Swarr
Open Normativities: Gender, Disability, and Collective Political Change
What Is Human Trafficking? A Review Essay
Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, Maria Cecilia Hwang, and Heather Ruth Lee
|Why Stories Matter: The Political Grammar of Feminist Theory.
By Clare Hemmings.
|Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire.
Edited by Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson.
|Women and the Animal Rights Movement.
By Emily Gaarder.
Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice.
Edited by Lisa Kemmerer.