Spatial boundaries and moralities of gender

consideration from obstetric and gynaecological practice in Chennai, South India

Victoria Loblay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the intersection of medical practice and moralities of gender in the context of obstetrics and gynaecology clinics in Chennai, South India. The focus of the article grows out of an attempt to better understand the moral values that underpin obstetric and gynaecological (O&G) practice in relation to female sexuality. Its key concern is the cultural construction of ideal femininity and the way gendered boundaries are put in place to neutralize the sexual potential of the medical encounter and to protect values around virginity. To deconstruct the ways in which O&G practice works to reinforce these norms, it analyses the configuration of spatial arrangements in the clinics, as well as the discursive strategies employed by medical staff and patients. It also examines how the arrangement of space and speech in the context of the clinic reflect the moral codes that govern female sexuality in South Indian culture more generally. Finally, it shows the depth to which everyday moralities of gender operate in the clinic and how medical practice serves to maintain the boundaries that shape the expectations surrounding femininity and sexuality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-223
Number of pages11
JournalSouth Asian History and Culture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • femininity
  • gender
  • medicine
  • sexuality
  • space

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