Power and the Intersection of Gender and Sexual Oppression

Gwen Daugs, Fordham University


The focus of my dissertation is conceptions of power underlying the intersection of gender and sexual oppression. The central aim is to demonstrate that a biopolitical conception of power captures the intersection of these oppressions in the present. In doing so, I treat gender and sexuality as objects of power, rather than modes of power, thereby departing from feminist analyses of Marxian power, while still foregrounding the oppressive effects of the organization of gender and sexuality. Primarily, I examine the oppressive effects of their organization in moral panic. I demonstrate this in two parts. In the first half of my dissertation, I return to debates in the history of feminist thought beginning in the late sixties and through the nineties concerning the nature of gender oppression and its relation to sexual oppression. I focus in particular on the work of Gayle Rubin. Ultimately, I critically examine different conceptions of power feminists used in these debates to capture the operation of gender and sexual oppression and motivate the need for a biopolitical conception to capture their intersection in the present. In the second half, I turn to moral panic. I draw on sociological work on moral panic to argue that moral panic is a persistent feature of contemporary politics that increasingly operates biopolitically. Ultimately, I argue moral panic is paradigmatic of the biopolitical intersection of gender and sexual oppression in two ways: (1) moral panic relies on gender and sexual norms for its articulation and (2) moral panic substantially contributes to gender and sexual oppression by figuring gender and sexual deviance as threats to the future of the population, especially to children. My argument thus draws two conclusions. First, analyses of oppression, especially the intersection of oppressions, need to include an analysis of power. Second, given its oppressive effects, we need to take moral panic much more seriously than we do.

Subject Area

Philosophy|Gender studies|Sexuality

Recommended Citation

Daugs, Gwen, "Power and the Intersection of Gender and Sexual Oppression" (2022). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI29210694.