It is established in the real sense that many are of the view that since the seventeenth century the Western society has undergone a repression of sexuality. Michel Foucault in his noble work “History of Sexuality” tries to dispel this kind of mind set theory by disagreeing with unlike minded sympathizers on the idea of sexuality not being a subject of discourse. This paper tries to explain in coherence with Foucault’s thoughts that in the modern set up, processes that are needed in generating the real discourses that are aligned to sex have been implemented.
He raises three faculties of thought in “The History of Sexuality”. First of all, whether sexual repression was predetermined by historical evidences? Whether what is appearing in our point of view is really the emphasis or just a creation of a system of sexual repression that began in the seventeenth century? Secondly, are the undertakings of power being practiced in a more all-inclusive manner through censorship, denial and prohibition or do they belong to the social setup of repression? The final faculty of thought asks, whether the serious discourse that talks about itself to repression does so as a unit to the power process that has always worked without external interferences or is it part of the system that it perverts and condemns by naming repression? (Foucault, 1998).
Foucault’s faculties of thought on the conceptualization of repression were inspired by confirmations of increasing widespread mindset of discourse on sex beginning the in the seventeenth century. Foucault’s analysis starts with the dissection of the theory of Victorianism whose concept basically lies on the belief that sexual knowledge and practice were subjects to power of repression. According to smart, Foucault has raised conflicting faculties of thought (Smart, 1985). “What are the reasons given to sex being the point of discussion and what schools of thought are in it.” How has power affected the sex discourse as was discussed” What were the effects of power generated by what was said? What is the relationship between the discourses, power effects, pleasantries that manifest in them? What kind of information can be got in this relationship?
Initially Foucault’s work on sexuality had a similar orientation to the questions above though, evidently, new sets of rules regarding sexuality and a well-developed feeling of censorship, prohibition, and the sense of not engaging in sex discussions had grown in the early years of the seventeenth century. Foucault argued that in the increase of sexual discourse there was an evident tendency that had emerged (Smart, 1985). He stated that “there emerged a political economic and technical incitement to talk about sex. And not so much in the form of a general theory of sexuality as in the form of analysis, stocktaking, classification and specification, of quantitative or causal studies”
Discourses in sexuality changed a lot in the eighteenth and nineteenth Century in the fields of psychiatry, medicine, criminal justice systems, social work and pedagogy. Sex metamorphosed to an object of management and administration. Governments came up with policies that were directed to birthrates, illegitimate and legitimate births, marriage age, fertility and the regularity of sexual relations amongst it population. With this concept sex became restricted to the act of privacy and as a result it lead to the emergence of conflicting discourses between the governments of the day and it people (Smart, 1985).
Foucault clearly argues that the urge of speaking about sex takes place in the very system that it struggles to pervert and condemn (Bristow, 1997). He further argues by proposing that it is rather strange in western social setups not to condemn sex but to accept its existence and speak about it while at the same time critically analyses it as a secret. He further states that what separates these last three centuries is the spreading of mechanisms that propagate the very discourse of sex instead what emerged was a controlled and monitored refined incitement to discourse (Foucault, 1978). He really has no humility at all to the repressive hypothesis. He is of the view that the whole social setup cannot be sexually repressed when still incitement prevails upon the very faith that is spreads (Bristow, 1997).
Foucault believes that the theoreticians and scholars who engage in the discussions of sex discourse have never concealed what they were discussing, and discussing to a greater extent, propagating it and dividing it off created an artificial-discourse meant to evade the real truth regarding sex (Foucault, 1978).
According to Foucault’s rationale, opposed to the mindset that the 19th century had little if any kind of talk regarding sex, they did actually place working mechanisms in operation to generate real and actual discourses about sex. According to him censorship and prohibition on the utterance of sex are minor , or even compliments the outburst of discourses on sexuality (Cousins & Hussain, 1984).
Bristow, J. 1997, Sexuality, Routledge, Great Britain.
Cousins, M. & Hussain, A., 1984, Michel Foucault, Theoretical Traditions in the Social Sciences, Macmillan Education Ltd., London.
Foucault, M., Levy, B-H. 1988, Michel Foucault, Politics Philosophy Culture, Kritzman, L., ed., Routledge, Chapman & Hall, Inc., New York.
Foucault, M. 1998, The Will to Knowledge, The History of Sexuality Volume 1, Hurley, R., trans., Penguin Books, Great Britain.
Smart, B. 1988, Michel Foucault, Routledge, London.