chapter  5
87 Pages

Gender, Sexuality, and Body Politics at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century

This chapter examines some of the central tensions, paradoxes, and ironies of the historical trajectories documented in previous chapters. I am especially concerned with social and cultural dynamics related to the paradoxical fact that an important range of transformations in pluralistic sensibilities and dispositions involved a contraction of pluralism and that roughly contemporaneous transformations in various domains of social practice and cultural valuation witnessed a proliferation of diversity, much of which, at least from the perspective of conventional standards of legitimacy, lies (far) beyond the cultural pale. The two sets of movements though at first glance seemingly disparate, opposed, or both are part of a single dynamic process that has also entailed the fragmentation of authority and crises of governance owing to the more or less concurrent emergence of competing loci of power and prestige that have helped birth new standards vying for legitimacy, some largely local, others derived from or informed in important ways by exogenous, globalizing sources.