Against the Heresy of Immanence: Vatican’s ‘Gender’ as a New Rhetorical Device Against the Denaturalization of the Sexual Order

In: Religion and Gender
Sara Garbagnoli
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Since the mid-1990s, the Vatican contests the concept of gender as forged by feminists to study social arrangements through which the sexual order is naturalised. This contestation came with the distortion of the analyses and claims formulated by feminists and LGBTQ scholars and social movements. This article understands the Vatican’s invention of ‘gender ideology’ as a new rhetorical device produced both to delegitimise feminist and LGBTQ studies and struggles and to reaffirm that sexual norms transcend historical and political arrangements. It also investigates how the transnationality of this discursive construct relates to the specific features it has taken in two different national contexts – France and Italy. The article is structured as follows: it first highlights the logic and structure of the anti-gender discourse. Then, it analyses how the same argumentative device is performed in anti-gender demonstrations. Finally, it scrutinises the rhetorical and performative strategies through which anti-gender actors have formulated their views and argues that ‘gender ideology’ can be understood as a political reaction against the entry of minorities into the fields of politics and theory.

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