Lecture Eight: The Lesbian and the Audience
November 2, 2011
The way speech and writing and other visual texts work in conjunction with
specific structures and institutions to shape social reality.
Daniel Fuco’s Definition
- A discourse is an entire vocabulry that is created and empowered to support
certain forms of social dominance. The vocabulary is not just a list of words but
a complex combination of words and associated habits, professional
credentials, customs and actions that enforce systems of social control.
For example, the law. The way in which the law is written is very complex and
those who have achieved a certain level of education are usually the only people
who can fully comprehend it.
Even in the event that someone without certain education, certain professional
credentials are required for a person to be able to practice the law.
The social construction of lawyers also bring about other associated habits,
customs and actions. This includes purchasing clothes at certain stores, dressing
a certain way, joining certain clubs or networking with certain groups of people.
Failure to achieve all of these criteria results in a person being denied to any
power that the certain discursive group has.
The Body as Discursive
There is the idea of “the perfect body”; if you stray from this ideal image in any
way (weight, height, skin color, hair color, teeth, ect), then you will not be able to
access the power that this discursive group has.
Created a heightened focus on the body as a site of social regulation and
Sexuality as an Object of Discourse
In the 1900’s, there were large changes in attitudes about sex and sexuality due
to changes in culture. Sexuality became heavily focused on, which led to the belief that people could
study, specialize and regulate sex and sexuality.
During this time, an idea of “normal” sexuality came into existence
- This classification became a distinction between what was normal behavior and
what was considered deviant behavior
- This idea became a form of discourse in terms of medicine and the law
- The law only recently began to change and make more equal rights for
homosexual couples (legalizing gay sex is an example, however even today a
lot of rights such as marriage rights are still being debated)
- Until the past few decades, medicine considered homosexuality to be a
psychological disease which needed to be addressed and could be treated.
Gender, Race and Class Inscribed on the Body
Categories about males and females come through culture, not nature
- The ideas of masculinity and femininity come from specific social environments
Gender - a social status usually based on the convincing performance of
femininity or masculinity
Persons may be women, men, boys, girls, transgendered, gender queer or
Performativity - race, gender, class ect are always in a state of “becoming”. We