“the Sodomite Had Been a Temporary Aberration; the Homosexual Was Now Species.” Explain What Foucault Means by This Remark with Reference to the Nineteenth Century Process He Calls “the Medicalisation of the Sexually Peculiar”.
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4. “The sodomite had been a temporary aberration; the homosexual was now species.” Explain what Foucault means by this remark with reference to the nineteenth century process he calls “the medicalisation of the sexually peculiar”. At the heart of the statement and references contained in the title are illustrations of how power is expressed through normative discourse in Western capitalist society. The process of how an act once termed ‘sodomy’ became transformed into the term ‘homosexual’ is fundamental to the nature of power in general and to the mechanism of discourse specifically. Foucault draws our attention to domains of discourse that are characterised by establishing quantifiable knowledge as truth, which society…show more content… 20). With population issues viewed more in the utilitarian terms of capitalist interests, it became important for the state to manage these terms and monitor its own interests in how much control individuals had in their use of sex
(1977, p. 26).
Up until the 19th century any exercise of institutional regulation of sex was to provide rights, obligations and restrictions within the married unit (Foucault,
1977, p. 37). Foucault traces the process of the absorption of sex into discourse through the subjugation of sex to the monastic confessional tradition of the
Catholic church. This is something that was, according to Foucault, peculiar to the west not because of the act of confessing sexual transgressions, but because it demanded a high degree of self-report and self-regulation. Importantly, while a level of discretion was increasingly favoured by church authorities, the scope of the sexual confessions went far beyond prohibited acts to encompass all thoughts, desires and urges tinged by sex (1977, p. 19). The effect of the confession was to situate forbidden aspects of sex in a discourse that both increased the power of the discourse and placed sex at the heart of the nature of
identity, akin to the soul. This form of prohibition was, according to Foucault,
‘peculiar to the West’ precisely because of how the power of discourse succeeded in engaging the individual in a watchful inner-dialogue, resulting in the
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