innate vs. constructed

I was left with a nagging question in the wake of today's class. Where does Foucault (and where should we) draw the line between the innate aspects of sexuality and constructed ones?


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.

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.


Foucault states that the 70s was a period of sexual revolution when people transitioned from the old perspective of a forbidden sexuality to suddenly liberating this sexual energy. However, Foucault seems to believe that our culture has been fixated on sexuality for much longer than this by having turned sexuality into a discourse.

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