It is commonplace in contemporary political discourses to posit secularism as the guarantor of gender equality. In Sex and Secularism Joan Wallach Scott provocatively challenges this association. Scott argues that the claim that secularism ensures women’s emancipation is historically false. Moreover, this claim has functioned to conceal the centrality of sexual difference to the foundation of modern secular regimes, as well as to justify “white, Western, and Christian racial and religious superiority” (3).

Sex and Secularism builds on Scott’s earlier book The Politics of the Veil (2007), which examined the headscarf controversies in France through the lenses of secularism, racism, individualism, and sexuality. This time around, Scott foregrounds her inquiry into secularism by tracing the shifts in its gendered meanings from nineteenth-century anticlericalism, Protestantism, and the colonial “civilizing mission” to the more recent history of the Cold War...

You do not currently have access to this content.