Medicalization, Neoliberal and the Pathologization of Embodiment: The Case of FGCS

Jessica Neasbitt
History of Consciousness
UC Santa Cruz

Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery (FGCS) is a burgeoning area of developing cosmetic surgery in the U.S., Britain, and Australia. Hotly debated, the procedure is caught up in cultural discourses of medicalization, on the one hand (arguing for the necessity of such procedures to correct a “defect” in female anatomy), and, on the other, condemnations of the practice as yet another market invention to capitalize on women’s traditional anxieties regarding beauty, especially with regard to genital anatomy. This dissertation—situating FGCS historically and culturally within practices of neoliberal capitalism, new surgical technologies, changes in U.S. healthcare systems, increased bodily surveillance and advances in media technology, and a tradition of the development and use of standardized systems of classification within practices of Western medicine—illustrates how these factors work in concert to produce “defective” bodies and the technologies marketed as necessary to fix them.