Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Theory and Criticism


Dr. Chris Roulston


Vaginal Biopolitics considers the relationship between biopower and the vulva

and vagina. Although feminist scholars have theorized reproduction through the lens of biopolitics and examined vaginas in some instances, there remains an absence of analyses that explore the relationship between biopower and female genitalia. This absence is interesting given that the female genitalia are a rich site for such an inquiry: female genitalia firmly straddle the boundary between the erotic body and the reproductive body and it is in this sense that they become biopolitical. The intervention of biopower produces the vulva and vagina as that which can be made measurable and controllable by discourses, practices, and institutions of power. Taking up “vulval aesthetics” (i.e., Brazilian waxing, vajazzling, pubic hair and labia dyes) and female genital cosmetic surgery, I argue that the introduction of aesthetics and morphology has become another dimension of disciplinary control that produces and regulates women based on their erotic, and not reproductive, potential and capacity.



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