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Discourse of Sex and the Creation of Docile Bodies

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Discourse of Sex and the Creation of Docile Bodies Subjection is a process that operates in society, and according to sociologist Michel Foucault, can be applied to a multiplicity of discourses. Foucault explains that the beginning of the nineteenth century marked the age of sexual repression and censorship, which became a time of subjection through exerting disciplinary control over a docile population. In his The Introduction to the History of Sexuality, Foucault explains how the scientification of sex came about. Specifically, it was an attempt to obtain a uniform truth about sex. However, there is no truth to it, but rather it is merely a vehicle for social control. Foucault distinguishes the discourses of sexuality from the science of sexuality, while also discussing how enforcement of the discourse on sex was made possible by various strategies of social control, such as the medicalization and scientification of sex. Further, he asserts that sex and sexuality became social issues in an effort to manage and direct the life of individuals, and this change contributed to providing society with more power over individual bodies through the “true” discourse of sex as this discourse internalized over time. According to Foucault, “truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint as it induces regular effects of power” (1980:131). Therefore, he suggests that the production of “truth” is not entirely separable from power, and knowledge is power, as it constitutes new objects of inquiry that can be manipulated and controlled (1994:97). In other words, true discourses do not exist since all discourses are merely products of a society that attempts to exert power over people, which is percei... ... middle of paper ... ...controlled by the “uniform truth of sex” (Foucault 1978:69). Thus, the moral rules over what is considered normal or abnormal regarding sex and sexual orientation are enforced and regulated by hegemonic institutions. These institutions act as vehicles to produce docile individuals that subject themselves to the so-called true discourses that are established in society at any given time. In this way, Foucault correctly claims that disciplinary power fashions individuals who voluntarily subject themselves to self-surveillance. When people fear that their sexual behaviors might be what the true discourse considers to be abnormal, they regulate their own bodies in order to conform. Therefore, the power of true discourses is omnipresent as it shapes human existence and permeates even the most private aspect of individual lives and ultimately impacts society as a whole.
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