Sexuality, normality, intelligence. What is queer theory up against?

Hegarty, P. J. (2011). Sexuality, normality, intelligence. What is queer theory up against? Psychology and Sexuality, 2(1) 45 - 57.



I engage queer theory and the history of the intelligence quotient (IQ) movement in the United States here to re-imagine the critical nature of both projects. Early IQ researchers, such as Terman and Goddard, hypothesised that IQ was necessary for sexual morality and tested the hypothesis that prostitutes had lower IQ than other women. Terman was further concerned that gifted children not be ‘queer’ and appealed to a Freudian logic of sublimation to explain why children whom he deemed gifted sometimes engaged in homosexual acts. Intelligence testing is not simply a ‘disciplinary’ form of power/knowledge of the sort described by Foucault in Discipline and Punish; it is not oriented towards normalising ‘gifted’ people that it individualises. Rather, gifted people are made visible within a strategy of changing government to accommodate their difference from typical intelligence. This analysis of power suggests new ways of thinking about the intersectional politics of conservative rhetoric that relies on IQ testing, such as the book The Bell Curve.

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