Performance All the Way Down: Genes, Development, and Sexual Difference
The genetic and cellular mechanisms involved in the development of complex multicellular organisms are best understood as performative- that is, as involving "the reiterative power of discourse to produce the phenomena that it regulates and constrains" (Butler 1993). Drawing on Butler, Barad, and Grosz, I will discuss the performativity of gene expression and bodily development, with particular attention to human sexual development. The performativity of the sexual phenotype supports implications for the definitions and ontologies of sex and gender. Biology needs queer feminist theory to achieve an accurate scientific account of the generation and evolution of material bodies.