Foucauldian Notion and Sexuality

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The very term Sexualit­‘ies’ bursts the notion of sexuality as a monolith institution. It underlines the fact that there is more than one form of sexuality which are often suppressed and constantly marginalised to legitimise and uphold the dominant norm. However I will use the terms ‘Sexuality’ and ‘Sexualities’ as interchangeable in this paper. I will begin by tracing various approaches that have historically been adopted to understand sexuality. Then I will discuss sexuality as a form of desire (transgression of heteronormative ideal) and how the women’s movement in India is conceptualizing it.
Sexuality as a Historical Concept : Normative vs Cultural
Sexuality is a contested terrain in a country like India where only one form of sexuality is legitimate, Upper class and Male. All other forms of sexualities are swept under the carpet and often seen as taboos, deviant, illegitimate and harming the ‘Indian Culture.’ To understand social relations in any society in any given historical point, discussion of sexuality/sexualities remain important. Historically, there have been many approaches taken to understand the processes which define the ‘how and why’ of sexuality. Freud relegated sexuality to the realm of biology whereas Radical Feminism by critiquing Freud took it out of the interior, private space and juxtaposed it with other institutions to show how it is socially constructed, exposed it’s ‘gendered reality’ and identified Patriarchal structure as the root cause

of it’s hierarchical dimensions.
Freud considered sexuality as a sexual drive, an instinct which is present in all human beings since birth, shaping individual behaviour. According to him, everyone is originally bisexual. One’s sexuality goes through different s...

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...elations degrade women to the realm of immanence or the ‘inessential other’ involved in the most arduous and mundane tasks of domesticity whereas men posit themselves as the ‘self’ and transcend the cultural inhibitions. Sexuality within patriarchy, hence for radical feminists is not a private matter based on individual choice rather socially constructed and as institutionalising gender disparities.
Caste also plays an imperative role in the construction of sexuality. Lower caste/class woman’s sexuality is constructed as transgressive and promiscuous (also available to upper caste men) in order to set up a dichotomy between the upper caste/class woman’s morally chaste and monogamous sexuality. So, through a binary lower caste woman’s productive labour is ensured (through a threat of sexual violence) as well as upper caste woman’s morally chaste behaviour (Gopal: 92).
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