Analysis of Foucault's History of Sexuality with "Second Sex"

Topics: Simone de Beauvoir, Existentialism, Michel Foucault Pages: 4 (1386 words) Published: March 18, 2011
Prompt: "Sex, pleasure, culture: how do the texts we are reading define the three concepts we are pursuing in this course, and the relations among these concepts? Choose two of the works we have read so far (except Lolita), and develop a compare/contrast argument about how they define one or more of these concepts. You may choose among the following texts: The Crucible (the play); The Second Sex; Hedwig and the Angry Inch; the performance "The Book of Longing" (or the song lyrics or drawings from it); The History of Sexuality."

When you hear the word sexuality what is the first thought that comes to mind? Do you remove the “uality” in the word and immediately think of sex in terms of intercourse? Do you think of one’s general eroticism towards another person? Your answer to these questions is relative to your society’s culture at a particular point in time according to Michel Foucault and Simone de Beauvoir. Foucault’s The History of Sexuality and de Behavior’s The Second Sex both agree that a superior manipulates a subordinate to suit his desires. However, while Foucault examines that those with political power manipulate people’s views of sexuality through the discourse about sex, Beauvoir argues that men manipulate women based on their biology, thus placing them into her concept of the role “ the other.”

Foucault’s History of Sexuality opens with the immediate attack of the “repressive hypothesis.” The hypothesis claims that sex was pushed out of consciousness and practice in the nineteenth century as the bourgeoisie came to power; consequently society experienced a diminishing sexual attitude. Foucault argues that rather than observing the history of sexuality by studying acts of repression (Freud’s idea), we should concentrate on its operations on power. In his chapter titled “The Incitement to Discourse” he claims that repression did not cause a decrease in sexuality, but rather caused an increase in the discourses regarding sex. He then combines...
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