GSWS 096 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: The History Of Sexuality, Child Sexuality, Bourgeoisie
DepartmentGender, Sexuality & Women's Studies
Course CodeGSWS 096
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History of Sexuality - Foucault
● Repressive hypothesis: the history of sexuality over the past 300 years has been
a history of repression. Sex (other than for reproduction) is taboo. The only way
to liberate ourselves is to enjoy sex and be open about our sexuality
○ Foucault DISAGREES with this. He thinks that discourse about sexuality
has only intensified over the years. We started with married sex, and then
slowly became more aware of/talked about perversion (like child sexuality
● Foucault thinks that this hypothesis ignores other cultures
: an art of sensual pleasure (many other cultures)
: an object of distanced, scientific investigation
■ Our discourse on sex is shaped by confession. People are
expected to “confess” having sex as a deep dark secret, which is
then analyzed scientifically
● Juridico-discursive power concept: the definition of power is the ability to repress
and restrict through law.
○ Foucault DISAGREES. He thinks power is both productive and
repressive. Power does not repress sexuality. Sexuality is a channel for
power to be expressed!
● Four major focus points: the sexuality of children, women, married couples, and
the sexually perverse
○ Because sexuality is existent in so many kinds of people, it allows
sexuality to be spread into families and society.
● Bourgeoisie: Tried to control sexual deviance because they thought it was
dangerous. Had the intention of keeping their class safe/healthy because they
thought it was hereditary.
● The deployment (spread) of sexuality is how many people keep power over our
○ Since the bourgeoisie, society has placed tight controls over our bodies
○ People take this very personally because they think of sexuality as their
essence and identity.
○ Foucault DISAGREES. He says sexuality is just a social construct that
has made it easier for us to be controlled.
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