Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sexuality is a great conduit of power

Foucault asks how it is that we have come to see sex as the key to explaining us, as holding the truth about us. The answer has to do with the relationship sex has with power and knowledge. Foucault criticizes the "juridico- discursive" conception of power as something that simply represses and restricts, always taking a law-like form. He suggests instead that power is as productive as it is repressive, that it is multi-faceted and omnipresent. Power is everywhere and working in all directions. Sexuality, then, isn't something that power represses, but a great conduit of power.
Foucault identifies four major focus points: the sexuality of children, women, married couples, and the sexually "perverse." The deployment of sexuality through these four points allows power to spread itself into the family and throughout society. This deployment took place with the rise of the bourgeoisie, who saw sexual deviance as hereditary and dangerous to the continued survival of their class. The controls they placed on sex were thus primarily intended to ensure their own health and longevity. Philosophy Study Guides

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