As a way of trying to ensure that feminism remains accountable and inclusive, there is an institutional tendency to multiply the subjects and objects of inquiry within women’s and gender studies. While sympathetic to this impulse, this essay also recognizes that such pluralization tends to reinforce the separation between subjects and objects that women’s and gender studies hopes to pluralize, often positioning “gender” as a more singular object than “sexuality.” In accepting such a teleology and taxonomy, is there a risk of ceding the terrain of gender to conservative forces that already harness it effectively to nation, to whiteness, to heterosexuality? This essay explores institutional stories of gender and sexuality in the u.s., the uk., and France, with a particular emphasis on the ways they align us more conservatively than we might want to imagine.

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