Desiring Normality

  • Camille Nurka


This is a speculative chapter which proposes that female genital cosmetic surgery appeals to a cultural fantasy of ‘normality’, or what it means to be a ‘normal’ woman. It argues that this norm is enmeshed in heterosexuality and the two-sex/gender system, which also regulates other forms of cosmetic cutting of the genitals: specifically, surgery on ambiguous intersex infant genitals and ritual female genital cutting (or FGM). It acknowledges that what it means to be ‘normal’ is culturally and racially inflected and offers a critical examination of the cosmetic procedure of ‘clitoral reconstruction’ surgery for women who have undergone ritual clitoral excision. This process involves unearthing the erectile clitoral tissue buried under the pubis to construct a pseudo glans-clitoris. In offering reconstructive surgery to African women, white plastic surgeons divert black feminist political action away from self-definition and autonomy and toward dependence on white benevolence. It ends by proposing a conception of bodily autonomy that challenges the normalising fantasies of sex and gender through an inclusive materialist concept of biodiversity.


Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery Clitoral Reconstruction Genital Cutting Intersex Infants Intersex Surgery 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Camille Nurka
    • 1
  1. 1.Mount WaverleyAustralia

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