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Foucault: The History of Sexuality

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Scott Keenan

on 16 April 2014

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Transcript of Foucault: The History of Sexuality

Foucault as a person
Section 1: "We Other Victorians"
Section 2: "The Repressive Hypothesis"
Section 3: "Scientia Sexualis"
Section 4: "The Deployment of Sexuality"
Section 5: "Right of Death and Power over Life
Conclusions & Discussions
Foucault: The History of Sexuality
Foucault personified
Deployment of Sexuality
Repressive hypothesis as power tool of the bourgeoisie
Table Of Contents:
Part 2: Repressive Hypothesis
Part 3: Scientia Sexualis
"Knowledge-pleasure" : a pleasure of knowing pleasure. Think voyeurism, reality tv, amateur porn
Sexuality is well discussed under the guise of confession, psychoanalysis, medical biology.
"Sovereign Power"
Definition in the past
Sovereign through "Deduction"
Definition today
We "Other Victorians"
3 Doubts
"Juridico-discursive": power manifest itself through laws.
1) Is it historical fact that we are repressed?
2) Can the powers involved really be categorized as repression?
“Power is tolerable only on condition that it mask a substantial part of itself. Its success is proportional to its ability to hide its own mechanism.”
3) Is the "critical discourse" of those who claim to be repressed just a part of the same repressive system?
If we are to accept there is a discrepancy, then "juridico-discursive" is no longer true.
Notion of confession as tool of power
How sexual confession became scientific
Clinical codification
General causality
Intrinsic latency to sexuality
Method of interpretation
Medicalization of effects
Power transcend the laws. Power is everywhere. Power as a web of tactics, strategies, relationships, behaviors etc.
Example: power/resistance is no longer true. Resistance is not external to power, resistance is part of power.
Sexuality under other systems of knowledge
New Power over Life (Bio-politics)
Autonomical (Physical)
Biopolitical (Demographic)
Deployment of Alliance and Deployment of Sexuality
Different methods of understanding
But what's the big picture?
A History of Sexuality Looks at
Sexuality in society from the17th century onward
This is only a piece of the puzzle
Establishes a binary norm bound by society
Case study: Daenerys Targaryen
"The History of Sexuality" is just the tip of the iceberg!
Ties to:
Politics today
Creates hierarchy of differences
The Issue
Sold by her brother for an army to create a military alliance
Sex is only for procreative purpose
Loveless marriage.
The second volume, "The Use of Pleasure" deals with
how ancient GREEKS viewed sexuality, taking the argument one step back!
But wait, he doesn't stop there!
The final volume, "The Care of the Self" concludes that...
"Ethos was the concrete form of freedom...Extensive work on the self is required for this practice of freedom to take shape."
"It is a matter of the formation of the self through techniques of living, not of repression through prohibition and law" (Foucault)
Central Aim
"To define discursive fact and the way sex is put into discourse."
Mr. F is Searching for....
2) Power production (which also prohibits)
1) Instances of discursive production (also creates silences)
3) Knowledge propagation (which also creates misconceptions)
Implications for Justice
Spirals of Power and Pleasure
To admit sexuality is spoken about...
To discover who speaks about it...
Who does this benefit?
To discuss their central viewpoints...
Those "observing" gain power in the form of
knowledge and gain pleasure from exercising

Those "being observed" gain pleasure from giving
knowledge and gain power
to discuss the institutions that get people talking and how they distribute the things that are said
The closer you zoom in on sex, the more there is to see and know.
Is confession inherently liberating?
Transitional Phase:
Where does sex comes in?
Sex deals with the two forms of bio power
Lines of interest taken by sexuality:
(the intro to the intro...)
Repressive Hypothesis
Sex has been repressed since 18th Century
We can free ourselves from this repression if we talk about the repression itself more often...
all work and no play
(...makes Jack a dull boy?)
....achieving both sexual and political freedom
So, we're not really sexually repressed...
Now we talk about sex more than ever.

Proliferation of sexual discourse:
Religious confession (The Church)
Sex statistics (Government)
Children's sexuality (Education)
Now sex is how we see everything.
The explosion of discourse placed sexuality at the heart of everything - it became a lens by which we see all.

Sexuality became the center of a person's identity
The Heterosexual v. The Homosexual
Power = Knowledge
We gain power by learning about sex
Systems of power in less obvious institutions
Foucault and Feminism
By viewing sexuality as key to all discourse, we create a dichotomy and, in turn, a hierarchy between the heterosexual and the homosexual.
Discourse and power struggle
"Persecution of the peripheral sexualities" (42)
Dichotomy distinguished:
Homosexual/sodomy v. Heterosexual/legitimate marriage
Right and wrong established
Perverse v. Non-perverse
Hierarchy setup:
Superior vs. Inferior
Feminists: Are we really as equal as we claim to be?
How do our ways of seeing the world create inequalities?
Famine and the Media
Media gives us image of famine
We understand famine through that image
Which came first - the chicken or the egg?

There is no beginning or end to the spiral of pleasure and power.
Consulting a "professional", through confession and technical sexual training

The Targaryen has tradition of incest, the deployment of alliance restrained Viserys.

The final volume, "The Care of the Self" concludes that...
Full transcript