Society and Sexuality in Waiting for the Barbarians and The History of Sexuality

Good Essays
Society and Sexuality in Waiting for the Barbarians, and The History of Sexuality

Within our modern minds reside two very different ways in which we deal with the subject of sexuality. The conceptual framework of modern society, to some extent, has developed out of past notions about the body. We can see that springing from our historical roots, issues concerning sexuality have been dealt with through mutual feelings of desire and disgust.

The relationship between these two opposed feelings arises from a dual sense of our awareness of our sexuality. One direction we are pointed in, is to view anything sexual in content, as socially digressive. The other crosses to the opposite extreme. Sexuality is something which is talked
…show more content…
The time line of his book is the chronology of sexuality throughout Western history. Foucault theorizes that the desire to remove a part of the self from the sexual realm grew out of the Victorian aversion against the "dirty", or supposedly unclean parts of the human experience. He says:

The seventeenth century, then, was the beginning of an age of repression emblematic of what we call the bourgeois societies, . . . As if in order to gain mastery over it [sexuality] in reality, it had first been necessary to subjugate it at the level of language, control its free circulation in speech, . . . and extinguish the words that rendered it too visibly present. (17)

Foucault says here that the roots of sexual repression begin to play a major role in Western intellectual formation in the 1600's. The presence of our own sexuality cannot be questioned, so the repressed discourse which arose out of this type of strict social control had to take a different course. The two sides of modern thought represent the course through which sexuality became legitimate both in private and in social discourses.

The issue of speech has always been one which has influenced the discourse on sexuality. Possessing control of the language of sexuality allows some measure of power and prohibitive discretion over the subject. It is the battle between what is said, and what is left to the unspoken, "darker" sides of the social persona,
Get Access