Tilting the Ethical Lens: Shame, Disgust, and the Body in Question

Hypatia 26 (3):632-650 (2011)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Cheryl Chase has argued that “the problem” of intersex is one of “stigma and trauma, not gender,” as those focused on medical management would have it. Despite frequent references to shame in the critical literature, there has been surprisingly little analysis of shame, or of the disgust that provokes it. This paper investigates the function of disgust in the medical management of intersex and seeks to understand the consequences—material and moral—with respect to the shame it provokes.Conventional ethical approaches may not provide quite the right tools to consider this affective dimension of the medical management of intersex, but we find in Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morality a framework that allows us a profound appreciation of its moral significance (Nietzsche 1887/1998). Understanding doctors' disgust—and the disgust that they promote in parents of those born with atypical anatomies—as a contemporary expression of ressentiment directs us to not focus on the bodies of those born with intersex conditions, which have been the privileged objects of attention both in medical practice and in criticisms of it, but moves us to consider instead the bodies of those whose responses constitute the motivating force for normalizing practices in the first place



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,991

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

131 (#143,263)

6 months
22 (#129,038)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Ellen K. Feder
American University

References found in this work

Principles of biomedical ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by James F. Childress.
The birth of bioethics.Albert R. Jonsen - 1998 - New York: Oxford University Press.
On the genealogy of morality.Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche - 1994 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Keith Ansell-Pearson & Carol Diethe.
The gay science.Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche - 1882 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. Edited by Thomas Common, Paul V. Cohn & Maude Dominica Petre.

View all 15 references / Add more references