Sexuality and Gender: Foucault's Construction of Sexuality

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Sexuality and gender: Foucault's construction of sexuality According to Foucault's theory of sexuality, both heterosexuality and homosexuality are constructs, rather than are ideas that are innately part of the individuals' genetic makeup or sexuality. Before the 19th century mania for classifying persons and documenting medical disorders, there were only homosexual 'acts.' Now, there are homosexual 'persons' because of the medicalization of the language of homosexuality. Heterosexuality was also 'created' as the mirror-image of heterosexuality. However, although Foucault's theory may initially seem to contradict the idea of being 'born this way' articulated by gay activists today, Foucault's theory is not fundamentally incompatible with the aims of the gay liberation movement. Foucault's theory of sexuality is tied to what he called the 'repressive hypothesis,' which states that "modern control of sexuality parallels modern control of criminality by making sex (like crime) an object of allegedly scientific disciplines, which simultaneously offer knowledge and domination of their objects. However, it becomes apparent that there is a further dimension in the power associated with the sciences of sexuality. Not only is there control exercised via others' knowledge of individuals; there is also control via individuals' knowledge of themselves" (Gutting 2008). Even when individuals try to rebel and become hyper-sexual to challenge the idea that sex must be repressed, they are
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