In transatlantic sex wars, gender is supposedly alien to French culture, as if it were essentially American. This nationalist cliché can be turned upside down if one takes language seriously. Gender is not only, but it is also, a grammatical term, especially in French. It is omnipresent in the experience of French speakers, in particular through rules of agreement, both as a reminder to women of their gender and in the political history of the French language. Attempts to deny the importance of grammatical gender only make it resurface with a vengeance, as illustrated in Valère Novarina’s Le Vivier des noms and as evidenced in Foucault’s introduction to Herculine Barbin. This observation provides a starting point for a theoretical argument about gender, not just in the language but also as a language, and the implications of its “signifying” relationships of power, including in terms of intersectionality.

You do not currently have access to this content.