Motivational factors as predictors of educational outcomes

Year: 2012

Author: Kaur, Gurvinder, Yeung, Alexander, Craven, Rhonda

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


This paper challenges the ways in which intersex bodies are theorized in contemporary debates and begins to think about these understanding might be incorporated in sexualities education. Myths and ignorance regarding intersexuality abound, sometimes resulting in intersex bodies inhabiting the space of monstrous other in discussions of sex and sexuality in the classroom. The umbrella term intersex, also referred to as 'disorders of sex development' in medical milieus, includes more than 30 'conditions' where one's chromosome configuration, hormonal make-up, internal and/or external genitalia (combination or independently) are 'atypical' to those of 'standard' male and female anatomy (Fausto-Sterling, 2000 and ITANZ, 2010). We utilize Nikki Sullivan's notion of somatechnics in our analysis, an approach that does not distinguish between bodies, technologies and associated discourses but rather sees "bodily being (or corporealities) as always already technologized and technologies as always already enfleshed" (Sullivan, 2009: 314). Thus people associated with this phantom category cannot be understood as separate from or somehow outside the technologies of medical, educational and scientific organisations that regulate their bodies. Inspired by Sullivan, we argue this approach may "engender more-nuanced understandings of and critical responses to the complex and multifaceted technés in and through which embodied being(s) comes to matter in situated contextually specific ways" (2009: 317)

To this end we consider how intersex issues might be given greater space in the sexualities education curriculum beyond approaches which appear to feed young learners' voyeuristic curiosity with non-normative bodies; an approach that we observed while conducting our school ethnographies. In other words, in what ways could the inclusion of intersex issues in sexuality education go beyond the 'monstrous' conceptualization and objectification of intersex genitalia? We are thinking about intersex as a conceptual and morphological phenomenon with a view to informing classroom conversation about gender, sex, sexuality and embodiment. How might we talk with students about intersex as a category if it is socially constructed, disputed as an identity and represents a wide range of anatomic makeups? (Sullivan, 2009)

Although teachers may find the topic of intersex a 'risky business', this paper's focus is on the pedaogogical potential of conversations about the phenomenon of intersex. Our aim is to inspire scholars, schools and teachers to work with and against young people's curiousity for stories about what they perceive to be, and are often told, are monstrous bodies.