Sex, Society, Power, etc.

by kthai

It may well be that we talk about sex more than anything else…It is possible that where sex is concerned, the most long-winded, the most impatient of societies is our own. 33

Yep, we care a whole lot about sex.

When I picked up Foucault’s History of Sexuality, I thought he would be discussing the repression of sexuality. To my surprise he states the opposite, that conversations concerning our sexuality have increased and become a focal point in society, not always because it’s being repressed but because it’s being analyzed.

It is said that no society has been more prudish; never have the agencies of power taken such care to feign ignorance of the thing they prohibited…the opposite has become apparent…never have there existed more centers of power…never more sites where the intensity of pleasures and the persistency of power catch hold, only to spread elsewhere. 49

I think Foucault is linking sexuality to power, but this confused me a bit. I think many people are still quite prudish (perhaps hypocritically) and that agencies of power (politicians and such folk) still feign ignorance to things they prohibit. I suppose along side of those repressive agencies of power exists others that are willing to share information and discuss sexuality.

Interesting how our sexuality could be used to decipher who we are and why we do what we do. “Nothing that went into his total composition was unaffected by his sexuality…it was less as a habitual sin than as a singular nature”. 43 This sentence, addressing homosexuality, made me wonder just how absolute sexuality is as a part of us. Yes we’re animals so I see how our behaviour and personalities are affected and may be in part driven by our sexuality. Just haven’t really thought about it much before.

Ars Erotica vs Scientia Sexualis

The way of ars erotica seems a lot more natural than scientia sexualis. The knowledge of pleasure is passed down, they don’t seem to want to prohibit any pleasures. There is a lot of talk about confessions in relation to scientia sexualis, because unlike ars erotica, the knowledge of sex does not come froma “transmission of secrets” but rather “the slow surfacing of confidential statements.” There’s also a lot about pleasure and how we gain pleasure from learning about what we find pleasurable. I guess there’s truth to that, studies about sex come out all the time and people always seem to be interested. I guess western sexuality is sort of like Dora, we’ve repressed a lot in the past and now we must seek or reveal confessions from ourselves and others in order to be liberated.

There is so much in this book, still trying to sort things out.