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Feminism of Michel Foucault

Hysteria was interpreted as the movement of sex insofar as it was the . . . principle [male] and the lack [female] (153).

To those who would argue that such Freudianisms constituted a breakthrough insight into the history of sexuality and repression, Foucault argues that Freud was a direct descendant of the power-brokers who for centuries had been supplanting the actual pleasures of bodies experiencing sexuality with the fantasm of public discourse about sex which had nothing to do with sexuality. No friend of Freud's, Foucault says only that the psychologist was masterly in re-charging the historical movement to deaden sexual pleasure. Freud was "wonderfully effective . . . in giving a new impetus to the secular injunction to study sex and transform it into discourse" (159). Surely, if feminism is seen as an ongoing effort to disrupt the relations of power which historically not only favor males but keep women alienated from power and from their own sexuality and selves, then Foucault is a strong ally of feminists.

Foucault's book is meant to be a wake-up call to any individual who would believe that the deployment of or discourse about sex has anything to do with sexual or any other variety of "liberation" (159). At length at the end of the book, he imagines a future generation looking back at the present generation and "wondering" what it was thinking as it boasted about having been the first generation truly liberated from sexual repression. Foucault's entire argument seems to be that the relationship between power (social, political, economic), the drive to acquire knowledge about what sex is, and sexuality itself is one which conspires to drive the life out of the actual body and its actual pleasures. What is so ironic to Foucault is that the people see this obsessive discourse as liberating when in fact it is enslaving and alienating. In that respect, he can be seen as issuing a challenge to feminists who imagine that the...

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Feminism of Michel Foucault. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 04:08, August 23, 2017, from
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