The History Of Sexuality, By Michel Foucault

1346 Words Dec 14th, 2014 6 Pages
In the History of Sexuality Vol. 1, Michel Foucault writes the body as a constructed and manipulated agent, the locus of sociopolitical discourse and power. To Foucault, the body cannot exist before the law (that which holds and ascribes its meaning). Similarly, sexuality cannot free itself from relations of power (Butler 1989:603). Indeed, the body is culturally contested; it is incapable of independence from any particular structuralized narrative. The ubiquitous yet uncertain subject of sex, as Foucault describes, is an “imaginary point, the consequence of materiality fully invested with ideas” (Butler 1989:603). He writes; “Nothing in man— not even his body – is sufficiently stable to serve as the basis for self-recognition or for understanding other men” (Foucault 1980:153). The culturally constructed body then, asserts a multitude of identities. The body is molded by distinct regimes of life, broken down by “rhythms of work, rest, and holiday” uprooted by cultural significant values, habits and moral laws (Foucault 1980:153). The legality of the body within the context of transactional sex has been a subject of constant debate, primarily limited to a severe binary whereby the focus on decriminalization rest upon the idea of human agency and the victimization of the body. Central to these narratives is, of course, the female form. On one end of the spectrum, anti-prostitution activists argue that women involved in the sex trade industry are but victims of an unjust…
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