True Discourses

In the beginning of this passage, Foucault is talking about how Victorians were unsuccessful when it came to paying attention to sexuality in the nineteenth century, despite what one would refer to the sexual approach as. Foucault did not think that the Victorians actually failed to confront sex, but rather that they approached it in a completely different manner, an opposite way, than the fundamental refusal of recognition did, which in fact was a major factor in the formation of Scientia Sexualis. Foucault’s description of this was that it was acts engaging in the study of sexuality. In the History of Sexuality, Foucault mentions that “parents and teachers were alerted and left with the suspicion that all children were guilty, and with the fear of themselves at fault if their suspicions were to sufficiently strong” (Pg. 42). This passage from the text reflects Scientia Sexualis and the reason being is because it is stating that individuals are engaging in suspicious acts in order to gain more knowledge and a clear idea of the real reasons behind their sexuality.

Following this, Foucault states “on the contrary, it put into operation an entire machinery for producing true discourses concerning it… it also set out to formulate the uniform truth of sex” (Pg. 69). What Foucault means by this is that in distinction to the false statement that stated that the nineteenth century confronted sexuality with a fundamental refusal of recognition, Foucault believes that it confronted sexuality in such a way that it led to an operation of forceful factors regarding sex. Foucault states that the Catholic church is where it all began, meaning that the history of sexuality as well as the beginning contributions to the history of the growth (discourses) all started inside the catholic church, as well as the notion of sin, which persuaded people to confess themselves. “Govern sexual practices: canonical law, the Christian pastoral” (Pg. 37). Through this quote, Foucault is stating that the church along with Christianity are great contributions when it comes to the way individuals see things as well as their discomfort. He states how confessing ones sins leads to the construction of perspectives, which involve normal and abnormal sexual acts, this then leads to the production of fear within individuals that has no end due to the fact that there are confessions and discursive frameworks. This fear is more prominent within those who engage in acts that are seen or considered to be sinful.

To further support Foucault’s point, he mentions that there were more steps one had to do after confessing, which was to report what the bible stated as sinful behavior, which involved homosexuality and masturbation (masturbation was one of the main discourses that surfaced in the nineteenth century). He stated that confessional methods were major factors in the contribution of scientia sexualis, which is what demonstrates the truths about sexuality in order to develop scientific knowledge. The second discourse that Foucault talks about is science and how it shapes things into objects of knowledge for individuals to understand. A demonstration of how individuals become objects of knowledge is when individuals talk about their sins with one another along with those who want a better understanding of how things work, this then leads to individuals talking about their sexual lives. Foucault states how sex can only become an object in science and how it can be an act because an individual can engage or object sex, displaying acts of suspicion, whereas an individual is investigating and monitoring something in order to obtain information. He states that this is what leads to the creation of identities that become normalized and controlled throughout time.

Foucault’s definition of how individuals get compelled and embody societal forces is defined by these factors. These societal forces allow individuals to naturally think or believe in a certain way without anyone intervening due to the discourses and discipline power that Foucault discusses about sex. In the reading Foucault talks about these “true discourses”, which he defines as prisons, parents, schools, hospitals etc. All of these things shape an individuals views of sex. Foucault actually believes that these institutions that individuals are exposed to are the major contributions as to why they view themselves and everything or everyone around them the way they do, which as an outcome displays discursive frameworks. Along with what Foucault discusses about true discourses, he states that there is in fact no such thing as a true discourse because every individuals societal experiences that shape their true discourses are actually false, he mentions that they are only true based on the institutions that surrounded them at the time that they were growing up, he refers to this as product of discourses.

Foucault also discusses the uniform truth of sex, in which he describes as the only right type of discourses within sex. He mentions that there is good sex as well as bad sex and the other forms tend to be problematic, except for what he calls the uniform truth of sex. Referring back to homosexuality and masturbation, he explains how these two are in opposition of what the uniform truth of sex actually means.

The end of the passage discusses how sex became very involved with discursive frameworks that it began to shape individuals ways of acting. Foucault mentions that

“the attention focused on infantile sexuality, the supposed dangers of              masturbation, the importance attached to puberty, the methods of surveillance suggested         to parents, the exhortations, secrets, and fears, —the presence— both valued and feared     — of servants; all this made the family, even when brought down to its smallest             dimensions, a complicated network, saturated with multiple, fragmentary, and mobil      sexualities” (Pg. 46).

Through this quote, Foucault is discussing how people began to hide their true self due to the strong power discursive frameworks had on them.

Along with this, Foucault is talking about how individuals shaped their behavior in order to fit in with the societal discourses, but that only led to secret barriers that individuals had to deal with throughout their lives due to the discourses involved with sex. These discourse played a role in creating a society that had a disciplined population, greater surveillance, and overall more control. Individuals were not allowed to display their own desires and were not allowed to enjoy the pleasures of Ars erotica because they had to watch their behavior and make sure that the way they conducted themselves was normal. Foucault talks about how Ars erotica means that an individual is able to fully get involved in their sexual pleasures and fully maximize their sexual desires.

The way in which Foucault describes power is that he mentions that it works through individuals discourses and he mentions how power is a form of strategies that have real effects on individuals. He states how individuals are not able to be their true selves because they are already defined in the world. The thoughts and activities in which individuals are involved are in fact not their own, but the power of knowledge. Foucault states that the institutions and what individuals practice everyday are what contributes to their factors, which reflects what he discusses at the end of the passage, when he is talking about the meaning of individuals behaviorand how evil is reached through individuals. He also discusses how space is something else that can shape society and how individuals are so easily manipulated, which shows how much power can control and influence even the individuals consciousness.

Foucault mentions that there is in fact no such thing as truth or true discourses involving sexuality. However, the understanding that individuals have about the world is what controls their body as well as their mind. Foucault mainly argues that knowledge, which is something that individuals have learned about through language, is connected with power. The notion of sexual identity comes into society as power, when individuals confess about their sexuality. This power then molds individuals conduct as well as their way of thinking. Foucault mentions that the understanding that individuals have about the world is expressed through language and knowledge, which are linked to power that allows individuals to exercise their mind and behavior.