The Perverse Implantation” by Foucault looks at the history of sexuality and how western culture has been narrowed down to a heterosexual couple. Foucault argues that prior to the 18th century, discourse on sexuality focused on the productive role of the married  couple, which was monitored by both canonical and civil law. This reminded me of Marx when he writes of this type of ideology as “…one type of sexuality that was capable of reproduction labor power and the form of family” (898). Translated in Marxist terms, we could read this as capitalists controlling sex and sexuality in order to maintain not only control over their populous of workers, but to control the stability of their work force. In the 18th and 19th centuries, he argues, society took an increasing interest in sexualities that did not fit within this union of heterosexuals. It was this group of “sub-people” that were searched out and punished for their deviance. Legal actions against minor perversions were multiplied: sexual irregularity was annexed to mental illness. During childhood, norms are set and if one deviates the slightest from the accepted form of sexual activity, that person is alienated and looked upon as someone with a problem. The nineteenth century has been the “age of multiplication: a dispersion of sexualities, a strengthening of their disparate forms, a multiple implantation of ‘perversions'”.

Foucault notes how repression has caused a backlash into a more “perverse” and secretive society. Indeed, curiously, the powers that sought to eradicate these people, was in fact the one creating them. Foucault argues that it is through the isolation, intensification, and consolidation of peripheral sexualities that the relations of power to sex and pleasure branched out and multiplied, measured the body, and penetrated modes of conduct.

I think all sexualities were seen as generally the same, until people began actively looking for and policing differences. This is the idea the power does not inhibit, but rather it produces. Instead of saying we all should adhere to n (normal), it says we should all adhere to n, but not to x, y, z etc. And it is through this definition of x, y, and z that power produces subjects that perpetuate it and resist it

Advertisements