Doubting Sex by Geertje Mak:
An adolescent girl is mocked when she takes a bath with her peers, because her genitals look like those of a boy. A couple visits a doctor asking to 'create more space' in the woman for intercourse. A doctor finds testicular tissue in a woman with appendicitis, and decides to keep his findings quiet. These are just a few of the three hundred European case histories of people whose sex was doubted during the long nineteenth century that Geertje Mak draws upon in her remarkable new book. Doubting sex offers a refreshingly new perspective on the relation between physical sex and identity over the long nineteenth century. Rather than taking sex, sexuality, and gender identity as a starting point for discussing their mutual relations, it historicizes these very categories. Based on a wealth of previously unused source material, the book asks how sex was doubted in practice - whether by lay people, by hermaphrodites themselves, or by physicians; how this doubt was dealt with; what tacit logics directed the practices by which a person was assigned a sex, and how these logics changed over time. Mak highlights three different rationales behind practices of doubting and (re)assigning sex: inscription, body and self. Sex as inscription refers to a lifelong inscription of a person in the social body as male or female, marked by the person's appearance. This logic made way for logics in which the truth of inner anatomy and inner self were more significant. Rich in fascinating examples and clear in argument, Doubting sex will be stimulating reading for academics in related fields, and make an accessible addition to reading lists for courses on gender and sexuality studies, queer studies, social history, history of medicine, and science and technology studies. [February 14, 2012]
I cannot WAIT to read this one. Not only does it speak to my heart and soul, but it fits in wonderfully with my Transcending Gender Reading Challenge. Here's hoping I can get my hands on an advance copy . . .hint, hint, cough, cough. :)
How about you? What are you waiting on this week?