More than unnatural masculinity: Gendered and queer perspectives on human enhancement drugs

More than unnatural masculinity : Gendered and queer perspectives on human enhancement drugs / Kathryn (Kate) Henne, Bridget Livingstone

Published in: Human Enhancement Drugs. - Routledge, 2019. - (Chapter 2; p. 13-26)

  • DOI: 10.4324/9781315148328-2


Popularized discourses surrounding human enhancement drugs often evoke gendered beliefs that frame this form of drug use as an unnatural pursuit of heightened masculinity. Not only is this form of drug use commonly associated with enhanced musculature, but it is also often presented as having aggressive side effects. Accordingly, many portrayals that reflect these embedded beliefs offer reductionist depictions of the diverse practices of human enhancement. This chapter departs from common perceptions to consider critically how gendered and sexualized norms inform understandings of human enhancement drug use in society. It builds upon earlier feminist and queer arguments that the study of gendered issues requires engaging questions of sexuality, as well as other interrelated formations of inequality. To do so, this chapter reflects on empirical research and critical theoretical perspectives, focusing on gendered and queer approaches that can aid in deconstructing the use of such drugs and societal anxieties about them. It contends that widespread concerns about human enhancement drugs being unnatural—and in turn seemingly unhealthy—are inextricably linked to heteronormative ideologies. It also illuminates how different feminist and queer perspectives can aid in destabilizing tacit assumptions about human enhancement drugs and their use.

Original document


12 June 2019
Henne, Kathryn
Livingstone, Bridget
Other organisations
Australian National University (ANU)
Renison University College
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Scientific article
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Date generated
15 October 2020
Date of last modification
20 October 2020
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