Feminist Theory, Sexuality Studies, Gender and Health, Feminist Science Studies, Disability Studies
In my current book project, I bring together insights from queer studies, disability studies, and feminist science studies in order to intervene in forty years of feminist debates about medicalization. Specifically, I use the common commitment of these fields to thinking of the body as a “naturalcultural” phenomenon to reevaluate the ethics and politics of various bodily interventions. Based on a series of case studies, I develop what I term a “queer crip feminist science studies approach to medicine and embodiment.” This approach holds together the biological and the social and the individual and the structural by: critiquing those aspects of society which contribute to human suffering while respecting the intentionality of individuals who choose biomedical responses to suffering; acknowledging the potential of both bodily and societal interventions to promote human flourishing; and respecting the possibility that societal interventions may have consequences at the individual level while bodily interventions may have consequences at the societal level.
My dissertation, titled “Compulsory Sexuality and Its Discontents: The Challenge of Asexualities,” uses insights from sexuality studies, feminist science studies and disability studies to examine the interplay between compulsory sexuality in the U.S. and the efforts of some individuals to define asexuality as a sexual orientation or identity. In the dissertation, I use asexuality as an analytical lens through which to examine compulsory sexuality in western biomedical discourses about low sexual desire and in feminist writings on sexuality. I also analyze data from thirty qualitative interviews with individuals who identified as asexual from across the U.S., exploring the ways in which these individuals challenged and accepted compulsory sexuality. I argue that using asexuality as an analytical tool and taking into account the narrativized experiences of individuals who identify as asexual necessitates a rethinking of important concepts within the fields of women’s studies and sexuality studies. Overall, this dissertation contributes to a broader and deeper understanding of how norms about sexuality are constituted and naturalized and how they might be re-envisioned in order to accommodate a greater diversity of ways of being in the world.