Gender and Sexuality: A Global Tour and Compass

Alexandra Minna Stern

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780195373141
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Gender and Sexuality: A Global Tour and Compass


This article considers the adjacent analytics of gender and sexuality and explores the emergence, consolidation, and persistence of eugenics over the twentieth century with keen attention to transnational variations and networks. It seeks to synthesize the growing body of literature on gender, sexuality, and eugenics and discusses various examples for hereditarian ideas and practices in the United States and Latin America. Furthermore, it turns to three substantive areas and discusses women's ambivalent relationship to eugenics, with emphasis on how female reformers navigated the tensions between breeding as an act of empowerment versus a biological burden. It examines the complicated relationship between sexology and eugenic thought, which ultimately supports an overwhelmingly hetero-normative interpretation of the family, despite scattered subversive possibilities. Finally, it concludes with a brief discussion about eugenic continuities into the twenty-first century, especially in regard to debates over the gay gene and the demonization of same-sex relationships and families.

Keywords: gender; sexuality; eugenics; empowerment; female reformers

Article.  8928 words. 

Subjects: History ; Gender and Sexuality

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