Jan 22, Foucault - The History of Sexuality Jan 22 Michel...

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The History of Sexuality Jan 22 Michel Foucault gender is about how men and women define themselves as masculine and feminine sexuality is the performance of erotic desires Repressive hypothesis = power is repressive, prohibitive, unilateral, and unidirectional; power is saying what people can’t do; power only prohibits sexuality Foucault argues against this begins the story using the tone of the repressive hypothesis, but we can tell by his language that he’s actually against it “For a long time, the story goes, we supported a Victorian regime, and we continue to be dominated by it even today” (3). o the “for a long time, the story goes” phrase tips us off that Foucault’s against the repressive hypothesis the repressive hypothesis views power like a pair of glasses; it’s something that you either have or don’t have o those with power exercise it over others o those without power must submit to those with power Foucault’s “productive hypothesis” = power is productive, pleasurable, with multiple sites and direction of application Foucault calls this the incitement to discourse = encouraging a particular scientific way of classifying sexual life Thesis: “A first survey made from this viewpoint seems to indicate that since the end of the sixteenth century, the ‘putting into 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 dessemination 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” (12-13). Foucault thinks of science as a systematic way of creating a body of knowledge Foucault’s examples of biopolitics = the politics of organizing the raw material of life into political bodies (1) Population study and control “One of the great innovations in the techniques of power in the eighteenth century was the mergence of ‘population’ as an economic and political problem: population as wealth, population as manpower or labor capacity, population balanced between its own growth and the resources it commanded. Governments perceived that they were not dealing simply with subjects, or even with a ‘people,’ but with a ‘population,’ which its specific phenomena and its peculiar variables: birth and death rates, life expectancy, fertility, state of health, frequency of illnesses, patterns of diet and habitation. All these variables were situated at the point where the characteristic movements of life and the specific effects of institutions intersected: ‘States are not populated in accordance with the natural progression of propagation, but by virtue of their industry, their products, and their different institutions. … Men multiply like the yields from the ground and in proportion to the advantages and resources
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