Volume 1 of “The History of
Sexuality” by Michel Foucault’s was first published in 1976 bearing the title, “An
Introduction”. The book lays emphasis on the 17th and 20th
century’s repressive perception of sexuality as it was hardly ever discussed in
the society. Volume 1 of this book is a representation of the author’s ideas
that challenge the “Repressive Hypothesis” (Tamm & Marek, 153).
study is a critical analysis of the “The History of Sexuality” with the intention
of generating a clear understanding of the subject matter with respect to Foucault’s
Anti-Repressive Hypothesis claims.
Analysis of “The History of Sexuality”
In this study, Foucault disagrees
with the assertions of the “Repressive Hypothesis” which perceives sexuality as something unmentionable
and restricted only to marriage couples. To begin with, his claims against the “Repressive
Hypothesis” imply that
sexuality was never repressed, and neither was the society forbidden from talking
about it for that matter. The westerners taught of it as act that defines power,
therefore those who were in marriage relationships had full control over it,
while those outside marriage were repressed from it. For some reason, the society
which was characterized by the repression of sexuality operated under the
practice of bourgeois where discourse, knowledge and power could be determined
by the industrious rich individuals in the society (Tamm & Marek, 154).
According to Tamm & Marek, “The
History of Sexuality” draws attention to societies from decades ago in relation
to how they perceived the act of sexuality- an activity that needed to be repressed
(154). The spill-over’s’ of such perceptions have been carried on to the modern
day society as some people still view sexuality as an act which justifies personal
liberation. Just like centuries ago, individuals still go to confession rooms
to relieve themselves of their misbehaviors, sexual sins being part of them
(158). The act of confessing sexual sins to a priest portray sexuality as an
act that should remain concealed, and not even the priest is allowed to share it
with a third party.
In a way of addressing the modern
absurdity about discourse on sexuality, Foucault wonders why individuals think
that they are repressed and why having sexual talks is perceived as something
that breaks social norms. According to Foucault’s arguments over the same, it
is logical to think that sexuality will make more sense to individuals if they
can freely talk about it in order to make the subject more familiar, and make
the act more enjoyable. Holding sexual conservations will not only bring more
understanding to the subject, but also it will personally liberate individuals
from the confinements of sexuality repression.
Following the rate at which times
are changing, and major criticisms that keep confronting the “Repressive Hypothesis”, discourse on sexuality has taken a
different turn as sexual independence is
not only justified in marriage relationships. Homosexuality and other forms of
sexualities have made sexuality more of an object rather than a subject. Basing
on cultural differences, sex has been considered something that defines
knowledge as far as sexual pleasure is concerned (Tamm & Marek, 163).
History of Sexuality” highlights Michel Foucault’s arguments concerning the
“Repressive Hypothesis”. According to him, discourse on sexuality majorly
emphasized knowledge and power as factors which repressed the previous society
from engaging in sexual conversations. Claims about the “Repressive Hypothesis” have been found applicable in the
modern-day society as individuals try to obtain full understanding of
Tamm, Marek. “Sex and Truth:
Foucault’s History of Sexuality as History of Truth.” Cultural History
5.2 (2016): 153-168.
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