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Lecture 3

SOC395H1 Lecture 3: Jan 28 - Foucault The Modern Disciplining of Sexualities
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Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC395H1
Professor
Adam Green

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SOC395 – GENDER AND SEXUALITY
January 28, 2016
Lecture 3: Foucault
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SOC395 – GENDER AND SEXUALITY January 28, 2016 Lecture 3: Foucault - Readings: o Foucault, Michel. 1980. The history of Sexuality, Vol. 1. (Pp. 1-76) o Rupp, Leila. 2012. “Sexual Fluidity ‘Before Sex’”. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture & Society. (37:850-856) Foucault - Repressive Hypothesis: Sex has been repressed in society o Cultural repression ▪ Became a taboo to talk about it - censored o Economic repression ▪ Sex was repressed because the middle class felt economically displaced ▪ Not in sync with the notions of capitalism ▪ Talking/having non reproductive sex -> wasting your • Should be reproductive, if it’s not, it’s not economical ▪ “Libido economy” • Direct your energy towards maximizing labour capacity, capitalism instead of wasting it - He is against the repressive hypothesis o Repression between who can speak about sex – experts should and should be authorized ▪ Repressing non-experts ▪ Making it an object of knowledge o Page 12: ▪ “A first survey made from this viewpoint seems to indicate that since the end of the sixteenth century, the “putting not discourse of sex,” far from undergoing a process of restriction, on the contrary has been subjected to a mechanism of increasing incitement’ that the techniques of power exercised over sex have not obeyed a principle of rigorous selection, but rather one of the dissemination and implantation of polymorphous sexualities’ and that the will to knowledge has not come to a halt in the face of a taboo that must not be lifted, but has persisted in constituting – despite many mistakes, of course – a science of sexuality. “ o Page 17: ▪ “The seventeenth century, then, was the beginning of an age of repression emblematic of what we call the bourgeois societies, an age which perhaps we still have not completely left behind. Calling sex by its name thereafter became more difficult and more costly. As if in order to gain mastery over it in reality, it had first been necessary to subjugate it at the level of language, control its free circulation in speech, expunge it from the things that were said, and extinguish the words that rendered it too visibly present. And even these prohibitions, it seems, were afraid to name it. Without even having to pronounce the word, modern prudishness was able to ensure that one did not speak of sex, merely through the interplay of prohibitions that referred back to one another: instances of muteness which, by dint of saying nothing, imposed silence. Censorship.” ▪ “Yet when one looks back over these last three centuries with their continual transformations, things appear in a very different light: around and apropos of sex, one sees a veritable discursive explosion.” • Rather than a repression, there is an explosion of science, creating a leeway and authorizing those experts to talk about sexuality • Under their guidance, the public revealed the details of their sexuality and sought help and/or understanding o Page 23: ▪ “This is the essential thing: that Western man has been drawn for three centuries to the task of telling everything concerning his sex; that since the classical age there has been a constant optimization and an increasing valorization of the discourse on sex; and that this carefully analytical discourse was meant to yield multiple effects of displacement, intensification, reorientation, and modification of desire itself. Not only were the boundaries of what one could say about sex enlarged, and men compelled to hear it said; but more important, discourse was connected to sex by a complex organization with varying effects, by a deployment that cannot be adequately explained merely by referring it to a law of prohibition. A censorship of sex? there was installed rather an apparatus for producing an ever greater quantity of discourse about sex, capable of functioning and taking effect in its very economy” • Shift between who did the talking, now its sexual experts o Split into different classes Sexual Expertise - The state, education system, medicine, psychiatry, psychology, criminal justice system, demography, biology o Specialized knowledges around all forms of sexuality – particularly non-reproductive forms of sexuality o Expertise located around all these sectors o Experts of sexuality grew up in one or a few of these ▪ Medicalization of sexuality arose - Sex grew medicalized and encoded in this medical discourse centered around sexual experts
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