Reacquiring Sex: From Gender Studies to Theories of Sexuation

  • Alexander Smulyansky


The impact of gender studies as well as the prevalence of activist movements it inspires conceals evidence of a theoretical crisis brewing in the gender approach. Its signs should not be sought in the arguments attacking gender theory from conservative positions, but rather in the internal logic of the concept of gender’s development. Academic gender studies has grown from the soil cultivated by French structuralism and pays homage to the latter, as embodied in Judith Butler’s form of problematizing the source of power in the symbolic emergence of the sexed subject. The discipline’s main subject of research is subsequently the subject’s general vulnerability against the prospect of universal normalization that neutralizes the particular consequences of his or her sex acquisition. The author suggests that criticism of the gender approach should not involve a return to the modern European conservative concept of the «natural purpose» of sexes but should question the very hypothesis that presumes that the non-biological component of sex can be fully exhausted by the procedure of gender organization. To challenge this hypothesis, this article asks how we can justify the subject’s adherence to sex, which is formed during the sexuation procedure described by structural psychoanalysis, which involves a choice outside of both biological and gender identity. Moreover, the article demonstrates why such a choice may be fraught with greater changes for society than the procedure of choosing «gender identity» that is becoming increasingly stereotyped and institutionalized today.

Author Biography

Alexander Smulyansky

Lacanian psychoanalyst, leader of «Lacan-likbez» seminar,
St Petersburg, Bolshoy prospekt P. S., 18А, Russia


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How to Cite
Smulyansky, A. (2022). Reacquiring Sex: From Gender Studies to Theories of Sexuation. Stasis, 12(2). Retrieved from