Foucault, Habermas, public and private space

Foucault emphasizes the difference between open, readable sexual discourses, and hidden and coded sexual discourses. This coupled with the ("official") relegation of sexuality to the home/parents' bedroom and to the brothel, away from public spaces, made me think of the last pm theorist we read who was also highly concerned with public and private spaces.

Sexuality as Identity

To go along with my previous blog about power as a simulacrum, I want to delve deeper into Foucault's claim that sex is nothing more than an imagined construct. Sex is simply a term used to discuss the discourses on sexuality. Centuries ago, sexual intercourse was nothing more than an activity done in everyday life. There was nothing that needed to be assessed or fixed. Now, sex is an act that requires its own knowledge.

Foucault and simulacrum

While trying to get a grasp on Foucault's position on power, I was very intrigued by his negation of the "juridico-discursive" model of power. This maintains that there is always a negative relationship between sex and power where power's ultimate objective is to suppress sex. Of course, Foucault adamently contradicts this belief throughout the book as he claims that power works to bring sex into discourse. Rather than supressing sex, power wishes to approach it in a more controlled manner.

Foucault and Gay Marriage

In the chapter "Domain", Foucault identifies specific measures of control that began in the eighteenth century. One such device is "a socialization of procreative behavior... a political socialization achieved through the 'responsibilization' of couples" (105). This brought to mind the "Marriage Protection Act" movement. Take this quote from the Senate Floor:

Protection of Marriage Amendment
Statement by
U.S. Sen. James M. Inhofe(R-Okla)


The concept of power relations is interesting but I'm not sure if I have a complete grasp over what he is saying. It seems that he wants to transcend beyond the traditional meaning of power simply being something that dominates and another that is being dominated. Instead of putting such a negative connotation on power in this way, he seems to want to shed some light on some of the less negative aspects of power.

Are Foucault & Lyotard postmodernist bedfellows?

I wonder where Foucault's general thesis of 'Part One: We "Other Victorians" ' places him in the spectrum of the rupture v. extension debate in postmodernism:

Foucault V. Freud

In the introduction to "An Introduction", Foucault regards Freud's contributions to our understanding of sexuality with sharp sarcasm. He writes, "Have we not liberated ourselves from those two long centuries in which the histroy of sexuality must be seen first of all as the chronicle of an increasing repression?

Sex: A power play?


The majority of the second half of the History of Sexuality, when not discussing sexuality and alliance, deals with the relationship between power and sex. While I think the two can be mutually exclusive - you can have sex without a struggle and you can have power without sex - Foucault seems to intertwine them to the point where there is relatively no difference. By the end of his introduction to sex, power=sex. "Sex is without any norm or intrinsic rule...

playing doctor

One of the assumptions of the 'repressive hypothesis' is that sexual desire is inefficient, and threatens to unbalance the system of production and consumption if it is not channeled and repressed -- sexuality (as a discourse, as a set of power relations and taboos around sex) is an effect of economic relations, and consequently has an easily intelligible motivating force, the imperative to maximize production. Foucault's move is to place sexual and economic, as well as knowledge relationships, on a single level.


In attempts to translate Foucault's arguments into a more direct postmodern discussion, I think he would support the concept of the collapse of social barriers by arguing that sexuality is not a natural category.

He seems to believe that sexuality is something that was created by our culture, our discourse, and that sexuality is basically a socially constructed category. In other words, there are no real categories of distinctions in life, but these categories originate from ourselves. They are man-made and not real.

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