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Alam 1Amy AlamProfessor Harshita KamathReli 48213 February 2018Sexuality within Western and South Asian ContextsWhen one stereotypically considers the “Western” world, they imagine progressive and open sexualities, and the “Orient” as backwards. With religion and differences in discourse from analyzing Foucault’s History of Sexualityand Vatsyayana’sKamasutra, and the views each society has on homosexuality one can see how this is actually not always the case. Once colonialism came into practice, the West and South Asia inevitably began affecting each other and it can be argued that the views on sexuality from both of these different places began to influence each other.Foucault’sHistory of Sexuality argues against a topic called the repressive hypothesis. The repressive hypothesis highlights that sex is to treated as a private, practical affair that only properly takes place between a husband and a wife. Sex outside these confines is prohibited and the feelings have to be repressed. Extra-marital sex has to be unspeakable and unthinkable, and discourse on sexuality is confined to the heteronormative marriage. Foucault argues that to free themselves from that repression, they must learn to be more open about their sexuality, to talk about it, and to enjoy it. Discussing sex was socially unacceptable, yet such discussions floweredin scientific and medical communities when they solicited confessions from patients and subjectsto explore sexuality (Foucault, 55). According to Foucault, the Western mode of identifying the truth about sex iscalledscientia sexualis, a system rooted in confession surrounding sexuality. Inthis Western context, pleasure is gained from sexuality by talking about or “confessing” sexual acts and behaviors (Foucault, 58). Foucault also argued“through the principle of latency intrinsic
Alam 2to sexuality,” or the idea that the ways of sex were obscure and can be revealed via confession (Foucault, 66). The goal of Foucault’s text is to challenge this assumption of Victorian repression. Public discourse illustrates how the Western conceptofsexuality differs from the South Asian concept about sexuality and pleasure. Foucault described the sexuality in South Asia as ars erotica, where truth about sexuality is derived from pleasure rather than confession.

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